Saturday, August 6, 2011

Case on point – raw power of independents unknown

Now more than ever, the story is as simple as this. Get out the vote – or else.

The numbers are stark. In a poll conducted by Pew Research for “The Washington Post,” 4 in 10 Americans said they have a less favorable view of congressional Republicans because of the debt-ceiling negotiations; 3 in 10 said their opinion of Democrats in Congress faded as a result.

Quite simply, people whose view of the Tea Party has dimmed because of the debt issue negotiations now outnumber those with a positive view.

With a two-year track record of unmitigated hell-raising and unpredictable influence under its belt, the Tea Party soldiers on into the 2012 general election cycle.

In a new paradigm, one for which the tax-hating faux Indians of the harbor may claim utter responsibility, 40% of registered voters now identify themselves to registrars and party officials as independent.

These are the people who will swing Presidential primary contests, Senatorial elections, the people's choice of Representatives, Sheriffs, Constables, County Commissioners, school board members and other assorted scroungers and cum shaw men and women from the Big Apple to downtown Sopchoppy.

Hey, come on, dear hearts. You know, it was one hell of a shipwreck.

Money, marbles and chalk on the line, it's no joke, and these folks are in no laughing mood, anyway.

The question is simple enough. Whither the independents?

The smart money knows it – and the money is big. Consider the words of Nate Daschle, son of Tom, the former Senate Majority Leader from South Dakota, who reportedly made $2 million as a lobbyist for Alston & Bird helping shepherd the opposition to the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 on his first trip out in 2008 – even though he supported President Barack Obama's bid for the big enchilada.

That was Senator Daschle's share of $5.8 million the K Street law firm gleaned from such health care providers as CVS Caremark, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, Abbott Laboratories and HealthSouth.

Interviewed by the Associated Press, Mr. Daschle, who is active in Indiana politics, said, “The tea party didn't happen by accident and it wasn't contrived. I's one of the purest and most organic movements in politics today, and while it may endanger its parent party, this is exactly the way the system was designed.”

How does the system work?

The independents aren't bound by ideology, so they only come out to vote in the general elections, eschewing primaries for the party faithful. That's the rule of thumb.

Can you afford to believe it?

Doesn't look that way.

For Mr. Daschle, all that changed in 2004. Senator John Thune beat him by only 4,508 votes in an ultra-narrow margin of 50.5% - 49.4%.

How was it done?

Through the hot button issue of abortion on demand, by and large. It's on every candidate survey the conservatives promulgate, comes up at every forum and meet the candidate event, gets a lot of hot air in every debate, even when a guy is running for obnoxious weed commissioner in a whistle stop somewhere on the high plains and prairies of the agricultural midwest.

When Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Carlson wrote the Senator in 2003 and told him he should no longer identify himself as a Catholic, it was because of his pro-choice votes on partial birth abortion, the protection of unborn fetuses when the mothers have been attacked by criminals, and other late-term issues.

His response angered the right. He said of Bishop Carlson that he was “more identified with the radical right than with thoughtful religious leadership.”

Ouch. Strong words.

One of the Vicars of Christ had just cut him loose, a shepherd empowered by the Church to guide him through life as an intermediary with God Almighty, and it was because the Senator supported a woman's right to choose how she would handle reproductive issues, thank you very much. Leave female troubles to the females, Mr. Daschle said.

He paid the price for it – big time.

The fallout was much more serious than just ballots. Investigators still believe the Senator's stance on pro-life issues was what motivated alleged anthrax mailer Bruce Ivins to target Mr. Daschle and his staff.

But the issue is as simple as this.

If independent voters come out in sufficient numbers, they can foil the major parties' choices in challengers – even possibly the renomination of incumbents. Unorthodox candidates such as Christine O'Donnell who so handily lost the Delaware Senatorial race of 2010 to an establishment Democrat, will be nominated by folks who have no real reason to remain loyal to a political hierarchy that seems to ignore their true wishes on cutting spending, a balanced budget, making people who earn very large incomes pay their share of income taxes, or curbing the federal government's cost of doing business with petroleum producers protected by an entire apparatus of U.S. Defense Department systems that cost billions to maintain each and every month.

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