The Independent Voter
Like many politicial scientists, I believe that one of the signs of our enfeebled democracy is the decline of the two-party system. People today often vote for personalities. This is a flagrant development that suggests American democracy shouldn't be taken seriously, let alone be sold as a system the Iraqi people or anybody else should emulate.
In the old days voters were saved from themselves by political parties, which instructed them how to vote and why, giving at least a patina of seriousness to the decisions they made at the polls. Today of course the voters reject the old idea of parties, instead preferring to think of themselves as above party. Proudly, they proclaim, WE'RE INDEPENDENTS!
The conceit that they are somehow superior to voters of old because they don't take instruction from party bosses is laughable.
The studies show voters today know less about issues than their grandparents did.
So who was the better voter?
The voters today show no sign of taking seriously their own claims to independent thinking. If they did they might actually do some THINKING. Instead, they neglect the sources of information which provide grist for thoughtful analysis--serious newspapers, serious magazines, and the like--and instead rely on talk radio and talk TV and a smattering of 30 second spots.
This is democracy?
And it ought to leave us ashamed.
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Stephen Thomas - 10/29/2004
"The voters today show no sign of taking seriously their own claims to independent thinking. If they did they might actually do some THINKING. Instead, they neglect the sources of information which provide grist for thoughtful analysis--serious newspapers, serious magazines, and the like--and instead rely on talk radio and talk TV and a smattering of 30 second spots."
Well, what you are really saying is that you don't like the conclusions that the voters reach. The fact that the electorate doesn't agree with you doesn't make them stupid.
An electorate that is sensible enough to elect both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton twice (and I voted for both) is one that sees the need for change and responds quickly.
The electorate, in general, rejects the racial and sexual politics of academic leftists. Less than a third of American women want to be identified with feminism. Pseudo-Marxism, which is all the rage in academia, is regarded among the electorate in general as a sign of dementia.
The electorate makes the right decisions over the long run. You are just pissed off because they don't agree with you. Get used to it. Your response to this is childish.
Michael Meo - 9/16/2004
is a French-language phrase translatable as "love for the gutter."
Historians are usually pretty skeptical of censorious condemnations of the present on account of the "Good-Old-Days," and this post tends to evoke that knee-jerk historians' twitch.
Just what elections were so sterling, that informed voters made a valid decision? The Election of 1876, let us recall, went to the Republicans because the railroad interests had the Congressional votes sewn up (C. Vann Woodward, Reunion & Reaction).
Did the political parties do such a great job when in 1960 they gave us the choice between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy? --either one of those guyus was a piece of work.
We are not a democratic country now. Okay. Rather than moon about how much we have lost, an irrelevency and of dubious validity, let us examine the cause of our lack of democracy.
For one thing, the triumph of the National Security State needs to be analyzed and exposed. For a start.
Murray Polner - 9/9/2004
It all recalls the late Neil Postman's remark about Americans in general: amusing themselves to death.
Oscar Chamberlain - 9/8/2004
On Rick's post: you assume that those who label themselves as independent are less knowledgeable. I'm not sure that is true. I know that a considerable number of independents vote regularly, think often, but diverge from a straight ticket often enough that they do not feel themselves a true party member.
Also, why do you asssume that those who do identify with a party do any more work thinking about the issues? Again, it could be true, but it might just indicate the local culture or the party member's preference in poker buddies.
On Jon's response, I generally prefer that the ignorant not vote. Of course, the definition of ignorance is not as easy as it seems. Way back in 1984, I remember talking to a guy who was going to vote for Reagan. I ran down the candidates issue by issues. He understood the issues, and if one had judged him by his answers, he was a democrat.
When I pointed that out, he admitted it, but then he said Mondale's name and shuddered. And that was that.
Was he ignorant?
Jonathan Dresner - 9/8/2004
Maybe it's grasping for thin straws of hope, but I prefer the underinformed 'independent' voter to the non-voter. If we could figure out what issues really matter to non-voters, we could start two whole new political parties, each with the voter base of a "Big Tent."