In Gavin Newsom’s first television ad of the fall campaign he doesn’t mention he is a Democrat. In Harley Rouda’s race for Congress against Dana Rohrabacher, his recent television ads ignore the fact he is a Democrat. In Dante Acosta’s bid for re-election in the 38th Assembly District his mailings and handouts don’t mention he’s a Republican.

What is going on? I remember the days when candidates proudly included in their political messages the major political party they belonged to. I’m sure there are more examples than the ones cited above but they include someone running for a statewide office, a federal office and a district office.

In “resisting” California, at least, you would think Democrats would wear their party label like a medal since they blame President Trump and the Republican congress for so many troubles.

Political labels are used as markers, shorthand for voters to get a sense of where political candidates stand, especially valuable for voters who only pay cursory attention to candidates and politics. A psychological study reported on a decade ago concluded that simple words like “conservative” used in a political context could prompt a subject’s assessment based on a word.

Perhaps the lack of party labels is a message from the candidates that principals rather than party doctrine guide the candidates.

Perhaps in the case of a Republican running in California it is a case of staying away from a party label that is perceived as negative by many in the Trump era, possibly the situation for Acosta. Perhaps it is a Democrat running in a district that usually supports Republicans, as in the case with Rouda.

I believe there is something else going on here. It is the continued lose of relevance by political parties in our changing world. This is partly represented by the rise of the independent voter, clearly on the upswing in California, and all across the country. It also reflects the lack of political involvement by a generation of Americans coming to voting age. The spread of information technology also plays a part. Individuals don’t need a central clearing house such as a political party to make political judgments.

The use of political party labels is not what it once was and neither is the strength and relevancy of political parties.