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Independent Voters are not really independent

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  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Ezra Klein, Vox, December 10, 2015: How American politics killed off swing voters

    Ezra Klein's article in Vox is revealing:

    "A paradox of modern politics is that 1) more Americans than ever are identifying as independents even as 2) fewer Americans than ever switch the party they vote for between elections.

    Today's self-identified independents, in other words, aren't very independent — they're actually predictably partisan, at least in the way they vote.

    Polarization has made the differences between the two parties so huge that swing voters are a dying breed, and the electorate is increasingly split between those who strongly prefer the Democratic Party and those who strongly prefer the Republican Party."

    The graph in Klein's article is revealing. "According to the polarization measures kept by political scientists Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, party polarization is higher in modern Congresses than at any time since the late 1800s."

    I certainly agree with the assessment that polarization is at its highest since the 1800s. What is harder to grasp is why? My view is that the media has largely contributed to this polarization by dumbing down the issues to sound bites and sensationalism. Media giants like Fox News are not really news outlets anymore. They are highly partisan in the way they put a political spin on events.

    Tribalism has also contributed to making a person "lazy" about critically thinking about how the party's platform can affect them. Many are one issue voters...guns, abortion, gays or God. A good example is the voters in Kentucky who just probably voted away their health care benefits:

    Esquire: 420,000 Kentuckians May Have Just Had Their Healthcare Voted Away

    "Make no mistake. Kentuckians voted to decimate a popular health-care system, and to make Kentucky a right to work state last night. They did so because Bevin mobilized the Kim Davis vote and spread enough Jeebus around that people (again) voted against their own best interests. (Also, it should be noted that Bevin plans to throw responsibility for the poor and the sick onto the rest of us. You're welcome, dickhead.) If your outrage over the treatment of a crackpot goldbricking county clerk outweighs the possibility that your aging grandmother is going to die of a treatable illness then, well, I don't know what to say to you except good luck and enjoy your freedom."

    Kentucky is not alone. In my canvassing of neighborhoods and talking to voters in Colorado, I found a lot of ignorance on the issues of the day, but usually the prospective voter could cite one issue that swayed his/her vote. One person who voted for Romney said she did it because she objected to Obama taking Hawaiian vacations at taxpayers expense. Sometimes it is as simple as that.

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Schmidt Wrote:

    Ezra Klein, Vox, December 10, 2015: How American politics killed off swing voters

    Ezra Klein's article in Vox is revealing:

    "A paradox of modern politics is that 1) more Americans than ever are identifying as independents even as 2) fewer Americans than ever switch the party they vote for between elections.

    Today's self-identified independents, in other words, aren't very independent — they're actually predictably partisan, at least in the way they vote.

    Polarization has made the differences between the two parties so huge that swing voters are a dying breed, and the electorate is increasingly split between those who strongly prefer the Democratic Party and those who strongly prefer the Republican Party."

    The graph in Klein's article is revealing. "According to the polarization measures kept by political scientists Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal, party polarization is higher in modern Congresses than at any time since the late 1800s."

    I certainly agree with the assessment that polarization is at its highest since the 1800s. What is harder to grasp is why? My view is that the media has largely contributed to this polarization by dumbing down the issues to sound bites and sensationalism. Media giants like Fox News are not really news outlets anymore. They are highly partisan in the way they put a political spin on events.

    Tribalism has also contributed to making a person "lazy" about critically thinking about how the party's platform can affect them. Many are one issue voters...guns, abortion, gays or God. A good example is the voters in Kentucky who just probably voted away their health care benefits:

    Esquire: 420,000 Kentuckians May Have Just Had Their Healthcare Voted Away

    "Make no mistake. Kentuckians voted to decimate a popular health-care system, and to make Kentucky a right to work state last night. They did so because Bevin mobilized the Kim Davis vote and spread enough Jeebus around that people (again) voted against their own best interests. (Also, it should be noted that Bevin plans to throw responsibility for the poor and the sick onto the rest of us. You're welcome, dickhead.) If your outrage over the treatment of a crackpot goldbricking county clerk outweighs the possibility that your aging grandmother is going to die of a treatable illness then, well, I don't know what to say to you except good luck and enjoy your freedom."

    Kentucky is not alone. In my canvassing of neighborhoods and talking to voters in Colorado, I found a lot of ignorance on the issues of the day, but usually the prospective voter could cite one issue that swayed his/her vote. One person who voted for Romney said she did it because she objected to Obama taking Hawaiian vacations at taxpayers expense. Sometimes it is as simple as that.

    Sure Schmidt, I agree a lot of what you wrote; however since I'm an independent but think as an Democrat, is just not to get a 'stamp' on my forehead. In the past certain things the GOP did where not all that bad as recently. Also since I was not used to a two party system (which is ridiculous) I prefer the Dutch system where you can elect any of the 10 parties which suits you much better. Of course if that party does not get enough influence in the government then you are still short changed; but it gives you more satisfaction. As you pointed out "States" like Kentucky are nuts because of religion; so I guess I should not move there. The problem here is way too many States, with way too many anomaly's, history, weird governors, cultures and racial mix. Indeed, you can better drop the word "United" from the "United" States
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    I found that article really interesting, especially because I've been saying that there's no such thing as an "independent" voter for a long time. They might call themselves independent, but they rarely, if ever, vote for someone of an opposite party.

    There used to be liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats, but both of those are a dying breed. I also agree that the media adds fuel to the fire because a functioning Congress won't get angry citizens to tune in. They have recognized that "sex sells," but the unfortunate thing is our government is now unable to function properly because of it.

    While the article didn't say it, it should be noted that the time frame they are discussing directly correlates with the Civil Rights movement and the dissolution of the Jim Crow south. And then this polarization just happened to spike to levels we have never seen before after America elected its first black President...

    polarization congress

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    jaredsxtn Wrote:

    I found that article really interesting, especially because I've been saying that there's no such thing as an "independent" voter for a long time. They might call themselves independent, but they rarely, if ever, vote for someone of an opposite party.

    There used to be liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats, but both of those are a dying breed. I also agree that the media adds fuel to the fire because a functioning Congress won't get angry citizens to tune in. They have recognized that "sex sells," but the unfortunate thing is our government is now unable to function properly because of it.

    While the article didn't say it, it should be noted that the time frame they are discussing directly correlates with the Civil Rights movement and the dissolution of the Jim Crow south. And then this polarization just happened to spike to levels we have never seen before after America elected its first black President...

    polarization congress

    Nice graphic; but what does it prove? Simply this country goes to hell; of course except the believers. Sorry I'm still an independent, because both parties make a mess of things and never stay within budgets. As well you get the Trump influence to polarize it even a bit more. Hitler would be proud of the direction we are taking. Read my previous mail as well.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Anyway, Independent or GOP or Democrat, it does not matter "polarization" makes this an pre-war Germany situation. The attention for the US itself is long gone. We only focus right now on the mess we've created in the world and have no time to fix our internal problems as well have an intelligent well oiled government . The attention is only focused on our "war" efforts and terrorists, while we sink deeper and deeper in debt because all our "money" disappears into the bottomless war efforts or other nonsense. If someone would have predicted this just after WWII, they would have said you are nuts. But just like gun control we are just about in the same situation with everything which will lead to the fall of the US Roman Empire, especially if Trump or Cruz figures are tolerated, then it is Hitler all over again. ( and everyone knows what happens then, except the use of "nukes" may signal the end of the world as we know it.)