Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Speak Softly But Carry A Big Stick

Amid all the noise and pontification surrounding the 2008 and 2010 campaigns, one thing is for certain - independents decide general elections.

We don’t have high profile personalities screaming incessantly on cable TV, we don’t have mainstream news networks in our back pocket, we don’t have popular syndicated radio talk shows, we don’t have celebrity champions and we didn’t hold a rally on the National Mall, but we have the benefit of independent thought and we hold the electoral trump card.  You can't win a competitive general election without carrying the independent vote.

For the most part, we:
  • Vote for the candidate that best reflects our views (or perhaps conflicts the least with our views), regardless of party affiliation.
  • Are fiscally conservative and believe in limited government and our capitalist economy. 
  • Believe our addiction to entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Welfare programs, Public Employee Defined Benefit Pension Plans, etc.) will bankrupt our children’s and/or grandchildren’s generations. Ignoring this ticking time bomb because it’s a political loser is incredibly irresponsible. 
  • Tend to have more liberal views on social issues and believe every American should have the right to serve in our armed forces, get married and start a family and have full control over their bodies, minds, religion and speech. 
  • Are equally afraid of the Tea Party and MoveOn.org. 
  • Hate negative campaign ads and are much more likely to vote for a candidate based on their platform, rather than voting against a candidate – especially when that negative ad distorts the truth, or dwells on some insignificant issue from 15 years ago. 
  • Are global citizens and understand that we fail to embrace globalization at our peril.
  • Believe in a strong and smart military to protect our citizens, and if that protection requires some minor inconveniences on my privacy, or uncomfortable (but legal) tactics of war, that’s a price we’re willing to pay to keep us safe.
  • Understand that our dependence on foreign oil hurts our economy and our environment, but we need to be smart and rational about how we address the problem.
Most importantly, we’re frustrated with our electoral options and are tired of voting for the lesser of two evils (a product of our two-party system and closed primaries – as discussed on these pages previously). 

In the 2008 election, without a viable centrist candidate, independents got caught in the net of hope and change, and this optimism, combined with a disdain for the status quo in Washington, propelled Obama and his Democratic ticket to victory. However, after two years of missed opportunities, empty promises, enormous spending, and a historically overestimated mandate to move America hard to the left, independents restored balance to Washington in 2010 by voting with their heads rather than their hearts.

Many will complain about the gridlock that is sure to set in with a Republican House and Democratic Senate and President, however, it creates a much needed check on power, continues to highlight the limitations of a two party system and, most importantly, sets the stage for quality independents to seek out and win Congressional seats or even the Presidency in 2012. 


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