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Independent Voters-Lazy or Leaderless?

February 28, 2013

Ever since I was about ten years old, the machinery of our political system has fascinated me. Accordingly, the past five-and-a-half years has been interesting to say the least.

Throughout the centuries, and accelerating to warp speed after the internet got going, the science of crowd psychology has dominated over common sense. I love some of the things about the internet, but it has certainly made it easier for politicians to shovel their messages out to the public. This latest political cycle has resulted in the exchange of shovels for dump trucks.

Anyone who thinks our elected officials represent a majority of the people has to be living in a very deep cave. The only time our “leaders” represent the majority, is when the majority makes it necessary to notice them. Politicians represent the people with the most power to get them elected. Most people, contrary to what the polar opposite news channels want you to believe, don’t pay a lot of attention to Washington because they don’t believe they can affect what happens there. They don’t have an effective organization to elect candidates, and they appear to be too lazy to construct one.  

Contrary to the beliefs of the media, the majority of people instinctively know that they really don’t matter to a politician, because the extremists get all the press. It doesn’t matter which end of the political spectrum they inhabit, the radicals on either side grab all the headlines. Republicans keep losing because they simply can’t or won’t “out-sound-bite” the Democrats. The so-called radical right tries to compete, but they don’t seem to be able to capture the attention of the vast middle ground of politics. Independents just lie there and simmer quietly.

No one in the past fifty years has understood this better than the current administration. The last five years has been one big sound bite, tweet or photo op. Any semblance of actual interest in or empathy for the majority of the American people is strictly coincidental. This isn’t charisma; it is craziness.

Throughout history, excesses have been punished by a sudden and often cataclysmic shift of power. Sometimes this is political and survivable; sometimes it has been the total collapse of the status quo.

Recent Gallup polls indicate that the largest voting bloc is inhabited by self-described independents. I submit that most of those surveyed aren’t independent; they are just disengaged. They do vote, but most of them do it because it’s just what you do. For many of them the last sound bite that penetrated the fog will determine how they vote, or even if they vote.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for a public voice, which is why Dr. Carson made such a big splash. Any person that articulates some modicum of common sense will be drafted by the middle if they want to be. The trick is to find the person that can withstand the fire that will surely rain down on them from both sides and doing it with effectiveness. That’s kind of what being in the middle means today.

Politicians are acutely aware that the “middle” is like the crown in the middle of a highway. It slopes to both sides so the road drains well. Their job is to modify the tilt so that the stuff that they think is good for them (not us) all drains their way.

In contrast, the middle of a high steel girder is flat. If you step off one side or the other, you are going to be a grease spot on the ground unless you have your safety line tied off. On the other hand, it makes it easy to stay on a straight course.

The radical right has released a list of its anointed ones, and the lunatic left has their message well represented. Where is the middle?

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