Independents Will Make the Difference
on February 5th
by Jackie Salit
On the political calendar, February 5th is a date that looms large. Twenty-two states hold presidential primaries or caucuses. No wonder it's been dubbed not only Super Tuesday, but in some quarters Tsunami Tuesday. What is the Super Big Wave that could sweep through 15 of those 22 states? Independent voters -- who are eligible to cast ballots in open primaries and caucuses.
With our opposition to both partisanship and inbred special interest politics, independents have been setting the pace so far. [Click here for my analysis of the Iowa and New Hampshire results.] Increasingly, independent voters are looking for clear signs that a candidate recognizes us as a force for change. We connect to the election process -- not through a party -- but with a movement for a new kind of politic.
The Democratic Party primary has shaped up as a contest between the old guard establishment, the Clintons, [Click here for "Hillary Gets Real(ity)"] and the new guard progressive insurgency, which is attracting large numbers of independents, in the person of Barack Obama. (John Edwards remains in the race, though his 1930's-style class warfare message has not moved significant numbers of independents.)
The Republican Party primary has its own establishment reeling. John McCain tapped into a reservoir of good will among independents in New Hampshire, though Obama drew the lion's share of "undeclareds" there. This gave further credence to the story that the independent movement as a whole has become more progressive. (An interesting note: in the Michigan GOP primary anti-war Republican Ron Paul polled 13% of independents, his highest yet).
Barack Obama has connected with independent voters in many states but has yet to close the deal, even though his campaign manager, David Plouffe, has observed "Independents are obviously the pathway to the presidency." Obama needs to appeal to independent voters in a nationally televised debate with the following message:
I want to speak directly to the country's independent voters. I need your support. I know that independents care deeply about the state of the political process in this country. So do I. I know there is an organized independent movement out there, and I am asking for your help. I'm a Democrat, but
I share your spirit of independence and your desire for change, for reform,
for an end to partisanship. I ask you to stand with me and to help me
restore hope and progress in America.
Meanwhile, the on-the-ground networks of independent voters continue to grow and are featured in two new books, Declaring Independence: The Beginning of the End of the Two Party System, by Doug Schoen (Random House) and We the Purple, by Marcia Ford (Tyndale Press). As Schoen writes, "The networks of independent organizers already in place would surprise most people, especially those who are confirmed Republicans or Democrats. At this writing, some thirty-five state organizations participate in a regular conference call!"
Schoen's point is on point. He's reporting on our conference call and on the story of Independent Texans, Sunshine Independents (Florida), the NH Committee for an Independent Voice, IndependentVoice.org in California, Missouri's Show Me Independents, Georgia's iMove, the Independence Party of South Carolina, and dozens more locally based associations of independent voters that make up our movement. These on-the-ground networks tell the story that an independent movement is coming of age. For 12 years (and longer) the folks who bring you IndependentVoting.org have been "laying cables" for that movement and have attracted tens of thousands of independent voters in all 50 states to participate in that process. An outspoken, up-from-the-bottom, multi-racial, mainstream and engaged community of independents has put itself on the map. Sign up below to get connected.
As Time magazine recently observed independents "could well be this year's kingmakers." I concur that independents will decide the presidential race this year, though I don't buy the idea that we're "kingmakers." The first American Revolution got rid of the king. The new electoral revolution is taking us beyond the "kingmakers," i.e. the parties and the Beltway, to a process where the American people make the decisions.
Please fill out our 2008 presidential survey [by clicking here: ] and share your independent views about the presidential process and the growing movement to take America independent.