Since I was home today I took advantage of a rare opportunity to listen to Rush Limbaugh, and he was going on about independent voters and the efforts of the Democrat and Republican parties to "pander" to them
, as seen in the familiar spectacle of Presidential candidates courting the raw-meat radicals in the primaries only to sound much more temperate and moderate as the general elections approach. Rush's problem with independent voters is that he views them as wishy-washy moderates, neither fish nor fowl, who have no real considered opinion on the issues of the day and are likely to be spooked into voting for Bush (or Kerry) at the last minute by some fluke or last minute PR blitz.
I don't think he really understands the independent voter, or more accurately the people who describe themselves as independents. To me, both major parties have core memberships built up of smaller blocs of people who feel strongly about foreign policy, fiscal policy, social issues, or some combination of the above. However, not all voters choose up sides before the general election. People are constantly weighing their personal self-interest against what they think is good for the country along with what they think the morally right choice may be, which is why some Catholics hold their noses and vote for pro-abortion Democrats and other Catholics do the same while voting for anti-abortion Republicans.
On the other hand, Sergeant Stryker
seems to be of the opinion that people who don't agree with the major parties shouldn't waste their time on them - they should instead organize their pressure groups through the internet so that the groups can strike out against obnoxious politicians and elect some more to their liking. What he misses is the fact (as one of his commenters points out here
) that this is already happening. It's reached the point in the Democratic Party where one could justly accuse the party of not really standing for anything except the combined (and often contradictory) policies of their component groups. The Republicans, on the other hand, tend to organize around a particular charismatic leader. During the last election, people in the Minnesota GOP tended to define themselves as Sullivan supporters or Pawlenty supporters instead of members of the "theocrat" or "moderate" wings of the party, which are media inventions anyway as we saw when Sullivan conceded the endorsement fight and threw his support behind Pawlenty.
In the final analysis, we're all independent voters. Neither of the major parties can march its supporters into the booth and force them to vote the party line - and sometimes we lie to the pollsters. Just to keep it interesting. ^^