Sylvia Thompson
'Political independent' does not necessarily equal 'political moderate'
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By Sylvia Thompson
May 3, 2013

We hear consistently one Republican operative or another stating the need for Republican candidates to appeal to independents. A candidate must never leave the hallowed "central ground" in all things political. Supposedly, the middle-of-the-road positioning of independents is the solution to gridlock in Congress. They are touted as the one group that can make or break an election; they are the key to political victory. Paid political consultants are therefore singularly focused on directing their candidates to pander to the group. Those who are solidly on the right of the political spectrum are deemed irrational fanatics whose views cannot be allowed to pollute the process.

The 2012 election was an example of "independents worship" at its height. Mitt Romney seemed hell bent on sticking it to conservatives by throwing meat to the vaunted middle in the electorate. His statement about Obama being a nice guy, but in over his head is memorable. We all know that Obama is not a nice guy, but that statement had a nice ring, and niceness presumably appeals to the independent. Romney's rush to distance himself from social and values conservatives was obvious at every turn.

The Republican talking heads, such as consultant Dick Morris, all joined the chorus. Forget the social conservatives; elections are won by harnessing the independent's vote. Romney was the man who could capture that vote (and in fact, he did). I recall Morris making a statement on Fox cable news to the effect that Romney could rest easy with conservatives, because after all, what could they do. That is, if they did not want Obama to win, they would have to vote for the Republican candidate.

Morris's statement is indicative of the thinly veiled contempt that establishment Republicans hold for traditional conservatives. When I heard that statement, I immediately thought that there indeed was something else for them to do – stay home. And they did, in droves.

I am an independent voter, and I can attest that the establishment's definition of a political independent is gravely flawed. Independents can be liberal, centrist, or conservative. They simply are neither Republican nor Democrat, nor any other party.

If they are conservative independents, they vote for conservative principles, which they hope are embodied in conservative politicians. These days, those politicians are mostly Republicans; not all, but mostly.

If they are liberal independents, they vote for progressive, left-winged ideals, which they see as embodied in liberal politicians. These days, those politicians are mostly Democrats.

Scott Rasmussen, the pollster (co-author of the book Mad as Hell) discovered in polling that independents are not primarily centrists; they adhere to ideals of one or the other of the parties. They simply see no need to identify with either party. Nothing stops them from voting and supporting financially the party of choice, except closed primaries.

People who do not want to be closed out of those types of primaries join a party. As an independent in a state where anybody can vote in a primary as long as the person declares an affiliation, I choose to affiliate Republican. I do so because the platform is conservative (the party leaders, not so much). If the Democratic Party ever gets a "come to Jesus" moment and espouses conservative rather than liberal ideals, I will consider voting for Democrats. I suspect that it will be a cold day in Hades before that happens, so I do not foresee voting for a Democrat anytime soon. If, on the other hand, a Republican is libertarian or liberal, I weigh my decision. That candidate gets my vote only if it means keeping an even more liberal or libertarian candidate from gaining political power.

I hope the 2012 elections opened eyes and removed heads from their positions deeply buried in the sand. The Republicans can play their "big tent, inclusiveness" games about appealing to illegal aliens (Hispanics and others), being more open to the homosexual agenda, and taking a more appeasing stance toward women on the subject of abortion, but if they ignore the socially conservative base (the majority), the Party is toast.

© Sylvia Thompson

 

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Sylvia Thompson

Sylvia Thompson is a black conservative writer whose aim is to counter the liberal spin on issues pertaining to race and culture... (more)

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