Friday, December 28, 2007

Clinton Doesn't Get It

Bill Clinton that is. Not Hillary. She doesn't seem to get it either, but that's fodder for another post.

Proof that the former president doesn't get independent voters is apparent in this snippet from an interview with him that appeared in the Concord (N.H.) Monitor on Dec. 21:
"I think independents are absolutely pivotal to our political system," [Bill Clinton] said. "But they don't like politics; that's why they're independents. So to them, you become polarizing if someone else attacks you."
Let's break down his quote sentence by sentence.

"I think independents are absolutely pivotal to our political system." He gets it! He really gets it! This part, anyway.

"But they don't like politics; that's why they're independents." Um, no. Many independents are politically zealous. What they—we—don't like is rabid partisan politics and politics as usual. I'll give him a partial pass on this one, because it's possible that's what he meant.

"So to them, you become polarizing if someone else attacks you." No, no, no. If that was true, we'd consider nearly every politician—partisan or independent—to be polarizing, since most of them are targets for attacks. It's not being attacked but doing the attacking that is polarizing. Otherwise, we'd be guilty of blaming the victim.

In a subsequent issue of the Monitor, Donna Lee Richards, an independent voter from Nashua, N.H., provided this response to Clinton in a letter to the editor:
Independents do not label themselves as belonging to a political party. This does not mean that they are not interested, informed or involved in politics and government. This simply means that they do not limit their views, issues or votes to those favored by one political party...We are not snoozing between presidential elections only to be woken and wooed by candidates, returning to our slumber in between because we "don't like politics."
Actually, I do most of my political snoozing during our seemingly interminable presidential elections. Or at the very least, I want to.

Many independent voters are interested, informed, and involved. We do not limit our views, issues, and votes to those favored by one political party. Donna Lee Richards gets it. If our elected officials and candidates—and the population in general—understood what Richards understands, they'd realize what a formidable constituency independent voters are.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

And the Winners Are...

...Democrat Dennis Kucinich, Reublican Ron Paul, and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney (if you just wondered "Who??", you're not alone---she's not well-known outside the Greens). They were the high vote-getters in the online Independent Primary, in which 106,645 votes were cast. (See my previous post for details on the primary.)

What was most interesting to me was that in none of the races was there a close runner-up. Kucinich scooped up 76% of the 80,153 Democratic votes that were cast; John Edwards, the number 2 vote-getter, only received 9%. The results were even more striking in the GOP column. Of the 25,269 votes cast for Republican candidates, Ron Paul captured 93%; Mike Huckabee came in a very distant second with 1.8% of the vote. McKinney captured 80% of the 314 Green Party votes; Jared Ball** (again you ask, "Who??") was the runner-up, also with 1.8% of the vote. Just over 900 voters, by the way, selected "none of the above."

You can see the entire results here.

*Cynthia and **Jared, just so you know:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Is There Really an Evangelical Voting Bloc?

There was at one time, but there is no such entity anymore. We started to see a serious departure from the evangelical allegiance to the Republican Party in the '06 midterms, and I suspect we'll see more of the same in '08. Rick Warren, he of The Purpose Driven Life, offered Newsweek his take on evangelicals' past support of presidential candidates:
Evangelicals tend to vote for people who claim to be born again. Every president back to Carter—Bush One didn't make a big deal about it, but he would say that. What do all those guys have in common? Nothing, except that all six of them were, quote, "born again." It didn't matter whether they were Republican or Democrat.

He's right. I knew plenty of evangelicals who voted for Carter the Democrat simply on the strength of his claim to be born again; Ford the Republican never made any such claim, and he lost to Carter. Since then, every successful candidate has made that claim. The difference today, I think, is that many evangelicals feel that the born-again label has been so abused and so misused that it's become meaningless, especially among politicians trying to curry favor with this alleged voting bloc. It's gotten to the point where evangelicals may have to develop a rating system if they're going to vote solely on born-again status, a kind of spectrum from least born again to more born again to much more born again to really, really born again to absolutely, positively most born again.

Or we could all simply vote for the best person for the job. Just a thought.

Monday, December 3, 2007

More on

Yesterday I posted a piece about, an effort by political activists to enable independent voters---who are often shut out of the taxpayer-supported primary process---to have a say in the presidential primaries. I just learned that voting closes on December 18, so if you want to make sure your voice is heard, you'll have to vote soon.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think an effort of this type will be effective, and if so, how will it be effective?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Primary for Independents!

Can you tell I'm excited about this? I, a bona fide independent, can vote in a primary without registering with either major party, and I can do it from the warmth and comfort of my own home. So can you! Okay, so maybe it doesn't actually count or anything, but you've got to admire the independent minds* that thought this up.

Here's the deal: You go to and vote for one of 16 current presidential candidates (eight Democrats and eight Republicans). You can only vote for one, of course, or you can select "None of the Candidates." Only then do you register to vote (talk about rebellious!) by entering your name, email address, and zip code. Hit "Submit," and your vote is counted. You can only vote once. Well, once per email address, but you wouldn't vote multiples times under a slew of different email addresses, would you? Another option, by the way, is to click on "I've Already Voted; Skip This Page." That's what I did, even though I hadn't voted and even though I know and trust the creators of the site. Still, I wanted to know more before I voted.

So here's the point: Obviously, your vote doesn't count in any legal sense, but there's a lot to be said about giving independents a voice in the primary process. Imagine what would happen if independents—whom the major parties know are pivotal to their success—voted overwhelmingly for, say, Democrat Dennis Kucinich and Republican Ron Paul. That would give the Hillary-Barack and Rudy-Mitt contingents pause, if nothing else.

But that's just me talking. The folks at Independent Primary say they created the site to:

...establish and measure the power and impact of independent-minded voters on the presidential election.

We are part of a movement bringing together ordinary Americans who think that the good of the country is more important than the good of the political parties.

Frustrated by the lack of genuine and inclusive dialogue about the issues that are critical to the future of our nation, Independent Primary is uniting independent-minded Americans into an organized force to challenge the partisanship and special interest control of policy-making which is endangering our democracy.

We are committed to find a new way of doing politics that is free from the domination of big money, political party bosses and the corporate-owned media.

Sounds good to me. I do think this is an effort worth participating in. And hey, you don't even have to leave home. No effort at all.

* That would be the fine people at IndependentVoice.Org, Independent Texans, Committee for an Independent Voice New Hampshire, and the Committee for a Unified Independent Party.