"The amount of people who vote for a party rather than a candidate is staggering."
Agreed. A brief story.
I loved my dad, and greatly respected him. But he was a very strict "vote the party line" Democrat. When I grew up in Pennsylvania, I believe the voting machines still had the "party lever" lever, so that you can just flick one lever and the machine would cast votes for all the Democrats (or Republicans) on the ballot.
We were a lower middle class family, my dad worked in a factory, he belonged to a union, and as I mentioned, he was a very staunch Democrat. The one (and only) political discussion I can ever remember having with him, right after I turned 18 and was first eligible to vote, was very brief. He told me how (a) the Democrats always looked out for the poor people and the "little guys", (b) the Republicans only cared about the rich people and themselves, and (c) therefore I should always vote for Democrats. Implied (not directly said) was that Republicans were bad people.
This stuck in my mind as being a very narrow minded approach to voting. One should not vote for somebody just because they were a Democrat, or a Republican, or whatever the hell they were. Your vote should go to the person whose positions on the issues best align with your own beliefs on those issues. And you're rarely going to get a complete alignment between your views and one of the candidates, so you need to think things through. Voting is a responsibility. Voting for somebody for no other reason that they have a (D) or an (R) next to their name on the ballot is irresponsible.
This is one reason why I am, and always have been, registered as an unaffiliated voter.