Thursday, April 28, 2011

Political G.D.I. and Proud of It

Some of the comments on The Madville Times frat boys tend to be drunken louts post reminded me that I have always been an independent.  I don't join frats, churches, political parties, or any social club that claims they would have me as a member.

My status as a political independent concerns The New Republic's Michael Kazin.  According to Kazin, people of my ilk are "really just a confused and clueless horde, whose interest in politics veers between the episodic and the non-existent."  Further, political independents, according to Kazin, "seem to be more myopic than moderate."  In fact, "our next holders of state power might end up being chosen by a minority that seems to stands for very little—or, perhaps, for nothing at all."  This myopic minority is composed of creatures that so frighten Kazin that he despairs "come 2012, they [independents] just might be the ones to decide the future course of the republic."

Let's begin with the idea of a "minority" being a "horde."  Somehow, those two terms do not seem synonymous. Further, John Sides shows that this minority is small and shrinking. "The number of pure independents is actually quite small -- perhaps 10% or so of the population. And this number has been decreasing, not increasing, since the mid-1970s."

Further, Kazin ignores a phenomena that David Roberts calls "post-truth politics: a political culture in which politics (public opinion and media narratives) have become almost entirely disconnected from policy (the substance of legislation)."

Roberts goes into more detail when he asserts that politicians'
rhetoric doesn't have to bear any connection to their policy agenda. They can go through different slogans, different rationales, different fights, depending on the political landscape of the moment. They need not feel bound by previous slogans, rationales, or fights. They've realized that policy is policy and politics is politics and they can push for the former while waging the latter battle on its own terms. The two have become entirely unmoored.
In short the American political system, according to Roberts, has created a situation where "there are no more referees. . . .[there] are only players" because "[t]here are no Reasonable People behind the curtain, pulling the strings."  America's "political system is choked with veto points, vulnerable to motivated minorities, insulated from public opinion, and flooded with money."

Roberts analysis indicates that the problem isn't that independents stand for nothing or are easily confused.  Perhaps it's that we realize that the parties' rhetoric will not be put into practice.  With the exception of preserving their political power, it seems that the political parties, not independents, stand for nothing.

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