Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Real Independent

One of the major focuses of the upcoming general election for President will involve the fight for “so-called” independent voters. The conventional wisdom is that the majority of these voters will support Senator McCain because of his reputation as a “maverick”, a reputation that is dubious at best. My first thought is that I personally believe that the influence of the independent voter is highly overrated. What constitutes an independent voter? Is it a voter who is not affiliated with any major Party? Is it a voter that votes issues and not ideology? As our nation careens towards the abyss how any voter can not take a stand on the issues is beyond me. While I have no Party affiliation per se, it is increasingly obvious to me that the Republican Party is bankrupt of any new ideas for the future and are trying to cling to a vision of America long since gone.

Many of their answers to the monumental questions facing this nation are to continue with business as usual. Questions such as the war, healthcare, the environment, the economy, and civil liberties have left them with a remix of past failed policies. While ideology has its place, we are at a state and have been for a couple of decades where what is best for the nation should trump what is best for Wall Street, the two despite the propaganda are not synonymous. There is a core group in Washington both Democrats and Republicans who have been overwhelmed by the issues we face and their only solace is to try to cling to a false representation of America’s past greatness.

Many of these so-called independent voters in my opinion are the once vaulted Reagan Democrats, who while they share some empathy with the plight of the poor and minorities of this nation it is often overcome by their personal fears and anxieties. These fears and anxieties can and often have been manipulated by the Republicans for political expediency. For this reason they are not rooted by any real sense to any fundamental beliefs other than self-interest. Their loyalties and their support tends to shift based on perceived assaults against those self-interests whether real or imagined. One of the main current themes being used to manipulate these voters is the immigration question. You have politicians as far away from the border as North Dakota using illegal immigration as a rallying cry.

Mr. Van Hollen said Republicans should be doubly worried by evidence that showed Mr. Obama outperformed Senator John McCain among independents in primary states when the Republican party’s nomination battle was still in doubt. Independents are considered Mr. McCain’s political strong suit.

Yet the memo said that, based on exit polls, Mr. Obama won 16,000 more independent votes than Mr. McCain in New Hampshire, a state where Mr. McCain is very popular. “This trend continued in the traditionally Republican state of South Carolina, another open primary, where Senator Obama won the independent vote with approximately 51,405 compared to Senator McCain’s 33,498,” it said.

Republicans see the independent bloc as gravitating toward Mr. McCain in the general election and believe the primary results will not necessarily translate since the Democratic primary was more compelling, attracting more interest from independents at the time.[1]

Many of these voters I think will be susceptible to the subtle and not so subtle references to race that will be dished up by the Republican attack machine. Many of these voters have already been manipulated by such ads as Willie Horton, Obama is Osama, and the like. So while many of these voters may not have a Party designation per se I would hardly count them as independents, they are about as independent as Joe Lieberman.

Our focus instead should be on moderate voters who will I think be more attentive to the message of change by Senator Obama and have become fed up with the lies and screw ups of George Bush and the Republicans as a whole. Now many of you will say that the moderates and the independents are the same and in some cases they are, but in a larger case they are not because moderates can include members of a Party as well as independents. Let’s face it folks there are going to be some people who are not going to vote for Senator Obama for no other reason than he is black and that is ok this is America. We will never turn these voters and we have to be ok with allowing those voters to be led by their hearts. Our goal should be on reaching out to those who hold moderate views on issues like race, abortion, and the war. We will need these voters in contested swing states like Ohio, Missouri, New Mexico, and the likes.

Obama represents our best chance to sweep and put into play states that Democrats haven’t contested in for years. We have to remember there are more moderates than racists or radicals and while we must remain true to our message we don’t have to alienate others in the process of delivering it. You might be surprised who might be agreeable to hear it. So let’s see who the real independent will be come November.

[1] http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/15/obamas-down-ballot-effect/

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