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.