Pernicious Pandering Politics: How To Lose An Independent’s Vote
After the political parties’ primaries and conventions, the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election has quickly and narrowly focused on Independents, and rightly so.
Independents are generally considered to be voters not affiliated with either party for numerous and differing reasons. For instance, they may hold moderate or centrist views on many issues that don’t neatly fit into any party’s platform; or they may feel no party represents their extreme, more radical, points of view; or they may simply not want to be subject to a party’s policies or expectations; or they may be apolitical or apathetic; or they may pride themselves on being free, independent thinkers; or they may see themselves as rebels or mavericks… in truth, there could be as many reasons for being an Independent as there are ‘independent‘ voters.
Personally, I am, and always have been, a non-affiliated independent voter. Depending on the subject matter and the principles at stake, or perhaps your own point of view, you might think I was a progressive or a conservative or a progressive conservative or a conservative progressive. If you consider that I come from an extended family of passionate progressives and committed conservatives, it makes perfect sense.
Unlike the American politics portrayed in cable news channels or represented by partisan commercials, our family’s political discussions don’t devolve into name-calling, insults, pernicious lies, or pandering rhetoric. It can get passionate, but it is always respectful and insightful, and that appeals to my ‘independent’ sensibilities.
These ‘independent’ sensibilities guide me to explore both sides of an issue, research everything I can, and remain open to tweaking my position, if need be, as I learn more, while holding true to my core values and beliefs. I don’t presume to be right or to know all the answers. In the end, regardless of my conclusions, I always respect other people’s points of views, even when they don’t align with my own. I feel that being dogmatic about things can too easily lead to fanaticism, which can lead to intolerance, which often leads to violence, as we are witnessing around the world today.
People who are fanatical about anything, from the left or the right of the political spectrum, quite honestly, scare me. Violence toward the people who work in abortion clinics or whaling boats is never the answer. Demonizing people who are different from us never leads to anything good.
Dogmatic fanaticals, in the form of religious zealots or political extremists, seem to lose their ability to reason, to remain open-minded, and to maintain perspective. These people are vulnerable to manipulation by politicians and others who will tell them what they want to hear and/or convince them that the other side is evil.
When you vilify your opponents, then compromise and civil discourse becomes impossible. After all, who would want to compromise with the devil incarnate?
Platitudes, Pandering & Pernicious Lies
As an independent voter, nothing turns me off faster than politicians’ platitudes, pandering or pernicious lies. I don’t demonize people who disagree with me and I don’t like it when others do it. I like smart spirited debates, but not mean-spirited discussions. And the fact that you are for motherhood, apple pie, and the American way of life… or for families and freedom… or for hope and change… or for a strong America… or for jobs… or for clean air… I mean, really, who isn’t?
In the end, democracy is not a game or a sport to me, it is a duty we have to ourselves, to each other, and to our country to get things done, to solve problems, and to meet the challenges that await us… together.
The two presidential candidates in this race, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, have been known to say inappropriate things as they pander to their audience. It becomes big news when they get caught on tape saying things at those private fundraisers that they would never say at an open rally or in an interview with the media, or promising mutually exclusive things to groups with divergent goals.
When they do speak in open forums they distort their opponent’s positions, they pander to the crowd, they speak in platitudes, and they try to be as vague as possible, keeping from the American voters the kind of information they need to make an informed decision.
This kind of duplicity matters. It speaks volumes about that candidate’s character, values, and integrity. It speaks volumes about what little respect they hold for the American voter and the democratic process. It speaks volumes about the need for campaign finance reform to keep the few powerful and wealthy from having a bigger voice than the majority of American voters.
Getting the Independent Vote
In the end, both candidates know that the staunch conservatives will vote for the Republican candidate and the liberal progressives will vote for their Democratic candidate, regardless of who the candidate might be on any given year.
The only voters really listening to every word the candidates say, keeping track of every allegiance they make, and studying their records on issues and promises are the independent, open-minded, non-affiliated voters. The candidates know that it is with these voters that the election will be won.
So, if you want to win the vote of this independent voter, don’t tell me what you think I want to hear and don’t think that I want to hear you denigrate, deride, and vilify other people – I don’t.
Show me you have seriously thought about and studied the problems facing our country and that you have very specific, detailed solutions to turn things around.
Show me you have thought about this country’s future challenges and opportunities and that you have intelligent, creative ideas and plans to prepare us to meet those challenges and position us to take advantage of the opportunities that may come our way.
Show me you are a person of character, integrity and honesty, and then I will know that I can trust you to make decisions that are in the best interest of this country; I will know that your decisions will not be made to pay back political favors and contributions; and I will know that even if I don’t always agree with those decisions, at least I can respect them… and respect you.
Show me that and I will give you my vote.
Martie Hevia (c) 2012 – All Rights Reserved
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