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Independents will elect the next president


Fri, Aug 22nd, 2008
Posted in Commentary

"There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution."

-John Adams

A few months ago I got a call from an acquaintance inviting me to a public event.

"We need to make sure we get plenty of Democrats there," he said somewhat jokingly. The event wasn't a political one, so I was a little surprised when he made the Democrat reference. I suppose the man assumed that because of my anti-Bush, left of center political writing that I must be a Democrat.

I declined the invitation because of a conflict, but made a point of letting the man know that I was not a Democrat, had never officially been one, nor had I ever contributed to a Democratic political campaign. For the record, I have voted in every election since 1972, sometimes voting in the past for Democrats as well as a few Republicans. More often than not my vote has been cast for a default candidate - usually the one whose list of values most resembles my own - as the choice is usually limited to candidates of the two major parties.

The reality is that I, like most of the voting public, consider myself an independent.

In his book Independent Nation - How centrists can change American politics, John Avalon shows statistics from the National Election Studies program at the University of Michigan that in the year 2000, 40 percent of Americans voters described themselves as independents, 34 percent as Democrats and 24 percent as Republicans. And the trend is growing, as 44 percent of those aged 18 to 29 - the so-called Generation X - consider themselves independents.

As a group, independents share a common thread:

• More and more they believe that the two political parties are controlled by their partisan extremes and special interests.

• Most consider themselves political moderates or centrists, those in the middle of the political pack; the so-called bell in the bell curve.

• They possess no loyalty to the Democrat or Republican parties.

• They tend to believe in fiscal responsibility and social inclusiveness.

• They are fed up with politics as usual and willing to shake up the system.

"Not coincidentally, as our professional politicians have become more partisan, Americans have reacted by voting in a new era of divided government, balancing the power of the president with a Congress from the opposite party for all but six years since 1980," Avalon writes. He says that this is an attempt by voters to control extremists from each party highjacking the political agenda.

The danger to both candidates for President this year is that by playing to their partisan base they will alienate independents, the very voters who will elect the next president.

And these are some of the issues important to independents:

• resolving the war in Iraq;

• developing a long-range energy plan that is no longer oil-centric;

• revitalizing an economy that is plagued by crisis in our housing and banking sectors;

• addressing health care costs that continue to rise disproportionately to personal income;

• restoring America's diplomatic presence abroad; and, most importantly,

• bringing about change in how our government provides solutions to our nation's problems.

You won't see political advertisements from independents touting a particular candidate,you won't see independents reveling at any party convention, but they are out there standing in the wings waiting to elect the next president.Independents will elect the next president

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