Friday, April 07, 2006

Independent Means Independent

Let me make it clear here that I'm not talking about the Independence Party, that strange, dwindling rightward-leaning entity that attracted voters who seem to believe that finding the oddest candidates possible is a cure-all for American democracy. No, I'm talking about the true independents - non-affiliated voters who exist outside the political parties.

An essential thing to understand about the general election in New York's 24thcongressional district is Democrats are not the majority of voters... and neither are Republicans. Republicans have a plurality, which means that the Republicans have the largest number of voters, but a majority of voters in our district are non-Republicans. So, if the race this autumn is between a Democrat and a Republican, and every single registered voter turns out, and only Republicans vote for the Republican candidate, the Democrat will win by a double digit margin. The same is true for the Democrats, of course.

The independent voters make up the difference. With the help of independent voters, the candidate of either party can obtain a majority.

The candidates know the importance of political independents, of course, and that's what makes them behave in odd ways at times. Many in the Democratic Party seem to have interpreted the role of independents as a call to move toward Republican positions. They call this position "moderate", but it really amounts to a shuffle toward the right, only taking the positions that Democratic voters support when those positions are "safe". In this context, a safe position is one that does not anger most Republicans.

This strategy seems mistaken to me, based on the flawed assumption that if political independents are neither Democrats or Republicans, they must be something in between. Democrats who adopt this perspective are only able to think in two dimensions, unable to consider that political independents might be going in a completely different path than just the straight road that exists between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.

This morning, I am asking Democrats who adhere to this limited point of view to expand their perspective on the political landscape, and consider for a moment that political independents might not be half-Democrat, half-Republican hybrids, but rather, something completely different. Independents are independents.

For a novel political strategy that could completely befuddle the Republicans and lead to victory in the general election in November, an intelligent, imaginative Democratic candidate could go a long way by supposing that independents are independents because they value political independence. In this way of thinking, political independents are not necessarily rejecting the policies of the Democratic or Republican parties as much as they are rejecting the concept of political parties themselves.

If this concept holds true, then a Democrat who leans rightward and supports Republican policies sometimes will not be regarded any more favorably than a Democrat who plays the role of a "good Democrat" and always supports the Democratic Party line. After all, this supposed moderate Democrat would not be moderate at all in the minds of independents, because he or she would still be operating within the system of political parties, merely switching flavors from the Democratic line to the Republican line from time to time.

I am suggesting that, for many political independents in our district, the political party system itself, whether it is Republican or Democrat, is regarded as immoderate, an extremist political imposition on the democratic process. The way to attract their support, therefore, is not to reject a few policies from one's political party in favor of a few policies from the other political party, but to demonstrate the identity of a true political maverick who is willing to operate independently, and move away from the talking points of both the Democratic and Republican parties, when it is important to do so.

The way to establish such a position is not to abandon Democratic ideals, but rather to embrace them. I'm talking about the positions that the majority of Democratic voters, as well as the majority of Americans, support. End the war in Iraq. Censure Bush. Do something serious and meaningful to slow down global warming - NOW. These kinds of positions are supported by the majority of Democratic voters, and most Americans support them too, but the established structure of the Democratic Party is still so frightened of its own shadow that it has rejected them.

The way to appeal to independent voters happens to be the way to appeal to the majority of Democratic voters in our district: Show that you're motivated by principles, not by party. Show that you're more interested in being a good American than in being a good Democrat. Show that you're not afraid of angering Democratic Party bosses like Rahm Emanuel. Show that you're a real leader, which means that you are your own boss.

The math is simple: A "good Democrat" cannot win the general election.

Republicans outnumber us, and won't be fooled by feints to the right or ambiguous policy language. Independents hate the idea of politicians who pledge to be good followers of bosses who reside behind the scenes.

What we need to take back the 24th district is not a Good Democrat, but rather, a Bad Ass Democrat.

Wouldn't it be exciting to watch that kind of candidate shake up our district?

We have three candidates in the running for the Democratic nomination: Leon Koziol, Michael Arcuri, and Les Roberts. I'll leave it up to you readers to conclude which one of these would be able to take on the role of Bad Ass Democrat with the most credibility.


Anonymous said...

Have you seen the comments on the Oneida county Democratic website about this blog? They are listed on the March 20th post on this website Weekly Democrat.
In case you missed it, the reference is that this is a "Rove like smear" to Mr. Arcuri, any comments?

24 Independent said...

Of course I've seen it. It's just an indication to me of how far out of touch the Oneida County Democratic leadership has really become.

They're intertwined so tight with the Arcuri machine that they interpret any criticism of Michael Arcuri as some kind of blasphemy.

A Rove-worthy smear? Well, you can look around this web site to see if I'm Karl Rove or not.

Seriously, those Democrats over in Oneida County have been accusing me of being some kind of secret agent man of some kind from almost the minute I got online with this blog.

I'd say that if I am so kind of secret agent with the mission of bringing down the Arcuri campaign, I wouldn't need to do anything but sit back and watch. The Oneida County Democrats are the only county committee I've seen that spends more time blasting away at fellow Democrats than in criticizing Republicans.

Kind of makes you wonder what their priorities are, doesn't it?

I'm thinking of organizing a petition to officially rename Utica as Paranoidburgh. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

excellent post, really enjoyed reading it, well thought out. I would love to see more of these type of posts.

as far of the comments go, as a forgotten Herkimer County dem (therefore an outside observer), I just think that the back and forth (including your comment 24 democrat)just perpetuates this thing that does nothing to advance progressive democratic ideas or help any democrat win this campaign in the Fall. I urge you to focus more on what I have said in the first paragraph and just be the bigger man about it, I would say the same thing to the other side if I could.

Really though, nice job on the post. Very interesting thoughts.

Richard Saunders said...

And I suppose your never ending potshots at Democrats that live in the Oneida County area is good for the party?
Why do you keep attacking those "Democrats over in Oneida County"?
Your wife was right. Your posts are mean spirited. You do indeed need bunny slippers and a nap!
I'll NEVER vote for Leslie Roberts no matter what nominations he possibly gets.
Because of YOU!
Oh, to live in the liberal utopia of Trumansburg...glorious land of Ulysses, where everyone has $1500 bucks to try to gain influence with the candidates.
I don't know people that have $1500 bucks to cover their utility bills from this winter.

Anonymous said...

I went to look at past Oneida County Democrats postings on that Weekly Democrat blog. I posted a few things and they clearly were censored. It seems that the Weekly Democrat is purely propoganda for Arcuri and they will not allow any comments that are not purely supportive.

This should make you feel even better about what you are doing and realize how important it is. I have begun to accept that Arcuri will win the primary. The question now is who will run against Ray Meier in the general election in 2008 when the Oneida Dems screw up this election for us...

24 Independent said...

Richard, you ought to know, by reading what I've provided on this blog, that I am less interested in what's good for the Party than I am in what's good for the principles that I believe in. One of the problems of the Oneida County Democrats is that they seem to have built up an obsession with party loyalty that has led to some really bad attitudes about the principles that the Democratic Party claims to stand for.

The disdain of many Oneida Democrats for primary election democracy in the Democratic Party is particularly disturbing to me. This idea that we ought to just go ahead and forget the primary is good for one candidate, but a lousy deal for voters, and a good way to ensure getting a representative who isn't responsive to the people.

Yes, I've got money to donate. That's because I set aside a percentage of what I earn every month to donate to progressive campaigns and causes. I did that before I moved to Trumansburg, which you're right is a great place to live. I earned my way to Trumansburg through my own hard work.

Anonymous said...

Those were pretty smart Republicans that gerrymandered this district. They knew the Oneida democrats were territorial to an exteme and they knew that would cause a huge backlash in the rest of the district.

Anonymous said...

On the internet you can be as "successful" as you want. It used to be brain surgeon, now it's consultant. There isn't just one successful person on this board, but I always believed that if you are indeed successful you are secure enough so that you don't have to keep posting it or bragging about it. I generally give my money to the Food Bank and the Rescue Mission, not politicians. I kind of regard those as good Democratic causes. But hey what do I know.