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Independent voters

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. ^^

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
tokenfanboy
Jul. 27th, 2004 10:53 pm (UTC)
Pawlenty has turned out to be far more conservative than I think his critics in the GOP ever thought he'd be. I'm glad he ran for Governor rather than the Senate. I think the right people are in the right places currently. Actually I think Coleman is pretty wishy-washy in comparison, but that kind of works when trying to build support for legislation in Washington.

That's probably why Governors win the White House more often than members of Congress. Executive leadership is stronger and commands more respect than Legislative leadership.
wombat_socho
Jul. 28th, 2004 10:20 am (UTC)
I haven't been too thrilled by some of the things Coleman's done either - his vote on ANWR drilling absolutely enraged me - but he could be a lot worse. He could be Arlen Specter. ::shudders::

Pawlenty, on the other hand, has been a pleasant surprise. I had my doubts about whether he'd be hard-nosed enough to slug it out with the Senate DFLers, but he's shown some real NHL-caliber toughness. He may not have the Hollywood flash of Schwarzenegger, but he doesn't have anything to learn from the Governator when it comes to dealing with a hostile press and an uncooperative legislator. He could well wind up as a potential VP replacement for Cheney in '06 or further down the line, assuming the party doesn't pit him against Mark Dayton to take back the other Senate seat.

I think you're also right about successful Presidential candidates coming from the states and not Congress. Except for VPs that won election in their own right (Bush the Elder, Johnson, Truman, Nixon - after an 8-year delay) all the successful presidential candidates have been governors.
tokenfanboy
Jul. 28th, 2004 11:44 am (UTC)
I think Pawlenty should run for a second term as Governor. He can do a lot more good for the State with a 2nd term rather than running for the Senate. He's got a few items through, like the new Education standards, but for his policies to really take root and not be immediately undone by the Legislature he needs to stay in office for a 2nd term. Plus he's doing a pretty good job keeping the State's budget from growing out of control.

Let Kline, or Mark Kennedy run for Senate instead. Dayton is easily beatable if they run even a halfway decent candidate.
qob
Jul. 28th, 2004 06:39 am (UTC)
I enjoy Rush and he's actually quite erudite on many subjects, but at the end of it, he's an entertainer and can't be boring. Scholarship and multi-faceted opinion is boring. He has to have a quick fixed opinion. Folks that have to work out their opinions (independents) frustrate him.
wombat_socho
Jul. 28th, 2004 10:24 am (UTC)
I often wonder where the fine line is between news, punditry, and entertainment, because it seems that Rush combines all three. While he likes to play the affable buffoon, he is indeed smarter than a lot of people (especially on the Left) give him credit for - but as you say, the constraints of the format don't allow him to dig into the subject the way a blogger or an essayist might, even if he was so inclined.
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