Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Those Mysterious Independent Voters

Are independent voters really so mysterious?

Why is it that our simple refusal to claim party affiliation leads supposedly intelligent political writers/bloggers to speculate wildly about what goes on in the mind of an independent? I posted about this before, back when David Brooks wondered "What independents want".

I've been an independent from the time I first registered to vote until the 2008 primaries. Did I suddenly see the wisdom of playing for a team? Uh, no. I changed my registration for the specific purpose of voting in the primary, a right otherwise denied me in my state. I do not self-identify as a Republican, and there's a very real possibility I'll switch to Democrat for the next primary, based on what happens with PA's redistricting. I'm a moderate conservative, social libertarian, and -- at heart and in my mind -- an independent still.

So I get annoyed by the folks like Brooks who wonder in print what it is we independents want. I stick by my common sense answer from the time -- Why not actually ask one?!

Seems maybe that's a little too much like work... why not just make shit up? And hey! The more insulting, the better!

Take, for example, "The Indy Conundrum" over at Mother Jones where Kevin Drum has the answer:

First: the vast, vast majority of independents don't really have any idea what Obama's plan to handle the deficit is. They just know that (a) the deficit is high and (b) Obama is president.
Aahhhhh. I see. We're stupid. Reminds me of Brooks. (Cue the flashback music and wavy graphics.)

"If I were a politician trying to win back independents, I’d say something like this: When I was a kid, I had a jigsaw puzzle of the U.S. Each state was a piece...."
Heh. That line still pisses me off.

Anyway, Drum wasn't finished. (Don't blame me for the interruption. It was Brooks.)

Beyond that, there are kids to get to school, laundry to be done, bosses to be pleased, and leaky faucets to be fixed. The details of the deficit debate are just a bit of partisan background noise that they haven't really parsed yet.
See that? Not only are we stupid, we apparently suffer from the world's first case of collective ADD.

"Don't bother me with Teh Poly-ticks right now, sonny! The dishwarsher's runnin', the dog needs put out and I gotta get to work! How many thoughts do you think my precious little head can hold all at once?!"

(As an aside, this might be the first valid reason I've ever seen to join a political party... Mussolini got the trains running on time, and apparently when you pick up that little "D" or "R", all the broken crap in your house is magically repaired so you can concentrate on toeing the party line! Yea! Where do I sign up? My dishwasher hasn't worked since the hippies screwed with the soap formula.)

Seriously, what the hell?

Drum's brain fart brilliant observations were provoked by a Washington Post piece on the new McClatchy-Marist poll. It shows that while independents tend to feel similar to Obama on tax hikes and Medicare/Medicaid cuts, they still don't approve of the job he's done on the deficit... or really, the job he's done overall.

Thus, it's a mystery! An enigma! A fer-gawds-sakes CONUNDRUM!

Except it isn't.

A lot of moderates and independents allowed themselves to be bamboozled into believing Obama was himself somewhat moderate. (Not this indy. I'd heard his little critique of the Constitution early on and was telling friends and family the man was a socialist before he ever ran across the football-tossing plumber.)

A lot of independents and moderates did want change. -- Until they got a taste of the kinds of change Obama had in mind. Ramming through unread, unwanted legislation... government takeover of the auto industry... the stimulus... TARP... czars... class warfare... public sector vs. private sector... redefining "opaque" as "transparent"...

Are you getting my point?

And yet, now that Obama is back in campaign mode, the liberal press/bloggers want to make it as if it's the independent voters with the problem and not the President. (Don't bother to comment or email that Brooks is a conservative. Bovine excrement. He's a conservative like I'm an Olympic athlete. Read: Not friggin' remotely.)

So, in the interest of saving these heavy thinkers some actual effort at their craft, please allow me to repeat what I wrote in response to Brooks barely a year after the election. And bear in mind, I can't speak for all independents. (We hate that! Something the two parties have never been able to figure out.) But it isn't that different from what my conservative friends think:

...THAT'S what independents want most. A government that listens to its people, and does what we want. A government that remembers American people have minds (some of them damn brilliant), and treats us accordingly. A government that serves us instead of ruling us. A government that protects us without controlling us. A government that provides the framework, and then gets the hell out of our way.
Mystery solved.


Pre-Posting UPDATE:

I wrote this yesterday (Wed., April 20) and didn't get a chance to post it. (I had to take the rabbit to get neutered, and hooboy do you ever wanna read that post when it goes up. Or maybe you don't...)

Anyway, I'm glad life got in the way for a minute. It gave me a chance to go and read the McClatchy-Marist poll results myself. Which I should have done in the first place. Turns out, the independent numbers track pretty closely to the overall voter numbers.

So Independents aren't the problem. Obama is the problem.

And the only real mystery here is how Drum came to his (baseless) conclusions...

But don't be too rough on him. Maybe his dishwasher won't work with hippy soap either. Can't expect him to concentrate on that and make sound political judgements at the same time, right?

Cross-posted at Republican Redefined.


Anonymous said...

Good points you make about Independent voters. I consider myself an Independent voter with a Libertarian bent. I also don't believe in "voting for the lesser of two evils," although I did hold my nose and vote for McCain in 2008 because of Sarah Palin. I won't be making that mistake again.

My state has open primary elections, except in the case of a runoff where you have to vote in the same party as you voted in the main election. North Dakota, however, has no affiliation requirements at all...all you have to prove is that you've been a resident for at least 30 days.


Matt said...

Good observations on independents. You can't pin them down because they are independent. The are all over the place ideologically, and you simply can't categorize them. It is stupid for anyone to try.