Third Party & Independents Archives

January 20, 2010

Mass. Election. Independents and Anti-Incumbents!

For years, I have advocated for independent voters to unite around the ant-incumbent strategy. Pres. Obama won as the challenger to the Bush/Republican years, riding the wave of disapproving independent voters. He won with 53% of the vote, and his approval rating remains in that ball park, depending on what poll you look at. The off-year gubernatorial races in 2009 were dominated by anti-incumbent independent voters. And now, in an historically Democratic State, Democrats lost and a Republican shall take the late Ted Kennedy’s seat. Are the Parties acknowledging this wake up call?

Sen. Elect Scott Brown's victory, however won't be applauded long by Republicans given his pro-choice stance. And Democrats will find Brown an obstacle on all their major initiatives going forward, from Cap and Trade and deficits to health care reform. Massachusetts voters won't remain happy with their choice either, as Brown said this morning, he intends to protect and fight for the interests of his State. Well, that is precisely what most other Senators do, put their State's interests above those of the nation's. So, when it comes to pork spending, or national challenges requiring his constituents to pony up a bit more in taxes to fight deficits and lower national debt, Sen. Elect Brown will be nothing new nor independent.

But, what choice did Mass. voters have? There were only 2 candidates running with any chance of winning, and the anti-incumbent mood and independent voters were courted with some expertise by Brown, and not at all by Martha Coakley. And Mass. independent voters are intent on demonstrating their non-partisan, bi-partisan capacity where incumbent parties, or incumbent candidates are concerned, as long as they have reason to disapprove of the results coming from our government. There were, of course, many other factors that played into this upset election, but, the polls show a dominant variable was the independent voters who can no longer tolerate the performance and results of Congress.

Brown did not run as a Republican. His party affiliation appeared almost nowhere on his campaign materials, and support from the RNC was paltry. He did not reference himself as a Republican on the campaign trail talking with voters. In hindsight, this may have helped him, because independent voters have no love for the GOP or RNC either. Some Democratic voters may have woke up yesterday feeling hoodwinked upon discovering that Brown is a Republican. But, that would be their own fault with no one to blame but themselves for not having become better informed. They know better than to expect full disclosure and honesty from politicians. Or, at least they should know better. The Supreme Court ruled in a case in recent years that politicians lying to the public is not a violation of Constitutional proscriptions.

Bragging Republicans don't seem to grasp what happened here, and are being drawn into false conclusions. Mitch McConnel views this race as evidence of a sea change in public opinion against Democrats and alluding to the potential of these same voters moving over to the Republican camp. He doesn't seem to grasp the concept of anti-incumbent voting, nor the concept that independent voters hold a disapproving attitude toward both parties. Republicans who believe their own incumbents will be safe in the 2010 elections, are missing the boat in understanding independent voters.

Democrats intent upon pushing through this Health Care reform regardless, are also failing to acknowledge the import of the ant-incumbent groundswell movement occurring amongst independent voters. Democrats will lose a number of seats in 2010 at the hands of independent voters by not courting their agenda for significant change in the way our federal government conducts its business. But, Republican gains may very likely also be offset by key Republican incumbent losses.

If Democrats or Republicans believe they can manipulate these voters into supporting their Party, they are chasing a fool's errand. By and large, this new breed of independent voter is a results oriented voter, and they are holding their own representatives responsible for those results, finally grasping the fact, the their vote cannot hold any other representatives responsible. Independents are discovering the true power and intent of their vote, to express their dissatisfaction by voting against their own representative or his/her party. We saw this in the 2006 and 2008 elections where independent voters rejected the Republican Party wholesale.

These voters are not for sale. They will vote for incumbents and for a Party again, when they can approve of the performance of the federal government, and not before. This understanding of this new breed of voters, appears to be lost upon the leadership in both the Democratic and Republican Parties, Obama excepted.

Pres. Obama knows keenly the importance of the Independent voter. He won the presidency seeking their vote and agenda for change in D.C. Obama did not draft health care reform plan details, which would have alienated so many independent voters as the Congressional drafts have. He outlined 3 basic principles and left the sausage making detail process to the Congress. In retrospect, given Obama's personal likability ratings, it was an insightful move.

Sen. Mitch McConnel hasn't got the wake up call. Neither has Gloria Trotten of the Progressive Majority, who in an email today said this election was a wake up call, but, then went on to explain that it is all about the strength of the enemy Republicans, and Progressives must give her PAC ever more money to fight this evil, or words to that effect.

The rancor and lack of constructive bi-partisan effort to make our federal government work for the American people in return for their hard earned taxes, and that of their children's already borrowed against, is central on the agenda of independent ant-incumbent voters. But, the party leaders in the Congress don't appear to get this at all. They have not yet heard the wake-up call these voters are sending. And that has to occur before they can begin to yield to these imminently reasonable demands of these voters.

Posted by David R. Remer at January 20, 2010 06:11 PM
Comment #294225

Very well stated DR.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 20, 2010 08:00 PM
Comment #294237

Thanks, Royal Flush.

A MoveOn.Org poll, I know, consider the source, indicates that Democrats who stayed home or voted for Brown, actually want the Health Care reform to pass, but, not in the compromised and contorted way it is currently fashioned. We will have to see if that polling result is supported by other polls. If it is, then Democrats need to follow Ed Rendell’s advice this evening.

Rendell advises Democrats to piece meal the HC reform with only those implementations which Republicans and Conservatives dare not challenge, like the anti-trust issue in States with only one or two providers, the requirement that insurance companies can no longer deny or cancel coverage for pre-existing conditions, and the cost of the legislation not be added to the deficit, but paid for.

Actually, this is rather a brilliant strategy. First it would simplify the bill, giving Americans exactly what they want from health care reform and in small enough package they can understand and grasp. Such a bill could pass well before the Nov. elections changing some attitudes toward Democrats by voters, especially among Democrats.

Additionally, it is brilliant because it would cause the Insurance industry to bang down politician’s doors, Republican and Democrat, demanding provisions in the current health care reform be put back in the piece meal legislation, in order to be compensated for taking on all those new millions of pre-existing condition customers.

The irony being the insurance industry spent millions lobbying against this HC reform with its government subsidies to them and compensation for previously ‘uninsurable’ customers. Needless to say, this piece meal approach would not give the insurance companies what they demand, since the public has no sympathy for Wall St. these days. Also, because the insurance industry cooked their own goose lobbying against the last reform bills.

Its brilliance lies in giving the voting public exactly what they want, and sticking it to the insurance companies and GOP who sought to make health care reform Democrat’s Waterloo. Will the Democratic leadership follow such a prescription for success with voters. Highly doubtful.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 20, 2010 10:27 PM
Comment #294242

Make me president and I will be a Constitutional president. I don’t remember Obama saying that during the campaign. I remember he made a lot of promises.

Make me president and I will ask Congress to pass HC reform with these three basic principles. He didn’t say that either. I remember him saying I will fight for health care reform and if you go to my website you can read my health care reform proposal.

We expect our presidents to be Constitutional but, we also expect them to be a leader and a fighter. Obama is failing in that area.

Posted by: jlw at January 20, 2010 11:03 PM
Comment #294245

Obviously, jlw, you have chosen to tune Obama on the campaign trail out as well as the newly elected Obama out when he enunciated those 3 principles for Congress. Selective memory is a common enough phenomena in the realm of politics.

And you don’t remember him EVER, EVER detailing the health care reform bill provisions do you. That is not a case of selective memory, because he never did. It must be paid for, it must drive down health care costs, and it must cover more uninsureds, especially those who can’t get insurance in the private market due to pre-existing conditions. These were the only demands he made of Congress on the HC bill. And he enunciated these repeatedly during his first months in office for the media and public.

If you are not in the woods, do the trees cease to exist? Just because you don’t remember, does not mean the internet isn’t full of media references to Obama’s HC plan principles and approach.

Outlining those principles WAS leadership. Those principles are the ones nearly ALL Americans can subscribe to. As for fighting for the reform, he did plenty of that, including bi-partisan outreach, until the GOP demonstrated there would be no cooperation coming from them. Your memory may be well service by searching Google, Bing, or Yahoo Search indexes, on these topics, and then reading what is there.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 20, 2010 11:11 PM
Comment #294249
It must be paid for, it must drive down health care costs, and it must cover more uninsureds, especially those who can’t get insurance in the private market due to pre-existing conditions. These were the only demands he made of Congress on the HC bill.

Well, that is leaving a few things out, David…

“(A)ny plan I sign must include an insurance exchange: a one-stop shopping marketplace where you can compare the benefits, cost and track records of a variety of plans - including a public option to increase competition and keep insurance companies honest - and choose what’s best for your family. “

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 21, 2010 01:18 AM
Comment #294250

BTW, that sounds a lot like the suggestions of many Republicans about a year ago, as well as the likes of John Mackey. We know what happened to him…

The notion that non-progressives weren’t trying to provide alternatives to what was being developed is nonsense. Just because it was ignored or rejected out of hand doesn’t mean it wasn’t offered.

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 21, 2010 01:23 AM
Comment #294251

Rhinehold, right, the anti-monopoly feature was added to his list, after he became president and after the wrangling had begun in Congress. Republicans and Democrats wholly support such a provision to end the monopolies in the States. Obama clearly had the key features the public could and would have endorsed, and which the partisans in Congress would have had a hard time defending opposition to.

Congress, in their infinite lack of wisdom, immediately set out compromising before establishing what it was the people and nation needed from this reform, de minimus. They did what they always do, made a wish list of all the things that could be added to meet the approval of all the different constituencies and special interests back home who will vote in the next election. They failed to define the basics which the majority of the American people could get behind, and go from there, since doing this would have provided all Congress persons a base for consensus, except those glued to the hip pocket of the insurance industry’s lobbyists.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 21, 2010 05:45 AM
Comment #294252

Rhinehold, far too many progressives and non-progressives were adding crap to the bill or bartering their vote away for stuff that the majority of Americans could not embrace. You seem to have this dynamic backwards. There was far too much in this bill to appease a host of small minorities of interests groups. Obama’s de minimus approach would have provided a basis for consensus for those Congress persons desiring to pass a bill for the people and future economy, instead of local special interest demands which the majority of Americans would not approve like the Ben Nelson Amendment for Nebraska, as one egregious example.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 21, 2010 05:50 AM
Comment #294258

Impossible, IMO, that we could get a GOOD HC bill, or any kind of bill, from this demrep legislature. I am amazed that people are willing to continue playing the game with such a corrupt and dysfunctional Corpocracy. Like playing the slots in Vegas, IMO. Legislators have a working life of 10-20 years. Corporations live on in perputity. Democracy winds up with a vocal minority in charge of the silent majority. Our minority is present in Corporate Personhood, vocal through Money Is Free Speech.
Like getting in a fist fight with one hand tied behind your back. Can’t understand why people won’t take the advice of people like Jefferson and carry out real reform, git er dun. 3rd party with a different political attitude and all that.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 21, 2010 10:12 AM
Comment #294265

David, What you extrapolate above is exactly correct. Well done. I agree, the election of Brown is a referendum on the dysfunctions of government. A referendum on lack of accountability and positive productive governance. A referendum on the status quo.

What is sad is that it took such a severe condition of deterioration to awaken the electorate. Recovery will be hard, slow and painful.

Posted by: RickIl at January 21, 2010 11:26 AM
Comment #294266

Roy, ultimately, without a strong anti-incumbent tendency amongst the electorate, all political parties will succumb to the argument that principles don’t mean a thing if you are not in power to implement them. Which of course, results in political parties sacrificing principles for power.

That is why a strong anti-incumbent tendency amongst voters which activates upon disapproval of government results, must precede the rise of any new Party. Without that, a new Party must succumb to the same pressures as the old parties.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 21, 2010 11:27 AM
Comment #294267

RickIl said: “Recovery will be hard, slow and painful.”

Yes, quite correct. That is the price of allowing problems to grow out of control. If those problems can be solved at all, given the current state of war between Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 21, 2010 11:30 AM
Comment #294269

Agree David, could be the TEA bag movement. And what rules would a new party need to implement to ensure that party would never be co-opted by special interest? For surely, any new party would, within a couple of years succumb to corruptive influences. And, do we just want some fringe changes or do we want real reform? I don’t see how just changing the guard will bring any focus to real reform, just more minor change. What I’m saying is that we need real reform, like abolishing Corporate Personhood and Money Is Free Speech. Do you think just a change of the guard would deliver such reform? I don’t. We need a populist party targetting initially pure reform issues and focused by having members act as oversight for those in charge of getting reforms carried out.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 21, 2010 11:42 AM
Comment #294271

Roy asked: “And what rules would a new party need to implement to ensure that party would never be co-opted by special interest?”

Ultimately, rules will not do the trick. Ultimately, it must be the voters exercising their anti-incumbent vote that will keep a party from being co-opted by minority special interests.

The Supreme Court just ruled today to overturn McCain-Feingold by a 5-4 vote, making the co-opting of government and elections by wealthy corporate interests both Constitutional and legal. That’s the result one should expect from a conservative court. Conservatives believe in minority special interest power since, they are perpetually, a minority group, themselves. As a fiscal conservative, I include myself in that minority group.

For a time however, it is possible that fiscal conservativism may become popular throughout the public. Unfortunately, it comes after the crises, instead of preventively before the crises.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 21, 2010 11:52 AM
Comment #294277


Which means we have not averted another 1880’s and 20’s style depression. While I tend to agree with the free speech issues, and feel that 501c’s have been a complete loop around that anyway, this is a complete selling of America to corporate interests. The gilded age is back.

I’m honestly not sure if anything other than violent revolution like in 1776 will reverse this.
We need not fear King George, just Burger King, et. al.

I don’t care if every bond trader on wall street or Bill Gates spend every dime they have pushing a candidate, but to have Goldman Sachs, AIG, and Bank of America now push candidates is truly a corruption of personhood.

This was a disturbing “activist” action on the part of the 5 conservatives, overturning precedent and the courts own rulings on an issue well beyond the scope of the case before them.

Posted by: gergle at January 21, 2010 12:11 PM
Comment #294282

You’re right on the money as usual David.

Sad news! But we saw it coming (the Supreme Court‘s decision). Maybe this is the straw that will break the camel’s back. In the next ten years we might see an amendment to the constitution to fix our campaign financing.

P.S. You did notice that in Massachusetts, the land of independents, there was scarcely a third party vote.

Posted by: Mike the Cynic at January 21, 2010 12:42 PM
Comment #294285


Scott Brown stole a lot of the votes that were origially polling for Kennedy, taking away the ‘third party vote’. He did what Obama did in 2008, reached out to the disenfranchised indpendants, only to have his administration and the Democratic-Controlled Congress label them as ignorant racists for their trouble of putting them in office.

It is a shame that Kennedy did not get more than 1% of the vote (Brown ran as much as a libertarian as he could get away with under the Rep flag), but it would be disengenous to say that the 3rd party/independants in Mass didn’t have a say on who was elected…

Posted by: Rhinehold at January 21, 2010 12:59 PM
Comment #294287

Mr. Remer wrote; “As a fiscal conservative, I include myself in that minority group.”

Add me to that group as well Mr. Remer. We can survive poorly decided and politicized social issues and fight again another day. These decisions are not disastrous for the nation as a whole.

National and state fiscal responsibility is however, crucial to everyone. We all must ride or sink in that boat.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 21, 2010 01:06 PM
Comment #294298

Mr. Remer,

As much as I enjoy your occasional ramblings about the anti-incumbent movement, it’s more than fair to say that the election of Mr. Brown was NOT a referendum of any sort, with the exception of a possible outcry against the current health care bill (or possibly, just gov’t HC in general).

Unfortunately, whenever someone wants to change the status-quo, you can’t go calling it a victory for your movement. The way the pendulum tends to sway in politics is both vexing and healthy. Although not much seems to be accomplished, it just seems to be the nature of the current beast.

This isn’t another rant about the futility of the anti-incumbent idea/movement as many have come before me to explain these shortcomings far better than I. It’s just a quick reality check: people vote their immediate interests. Brown was against the HC bill, people listened.

One bright point in all of this ridiculosity, there is a healthy pool of independent voters in Massachusetts, and the more people who don’t have knee-jerk loyalty to a party for arbitrary reasons, the better.

Posted by: LXIX at January 21, 2010 02:30 PM
Comment #294299

LXIX, if the independents vote against the sitting incumbent or the opposition party to the former holder of that office, it is, by definition, an anti-incumbent vote. And cumulatively, such turnarounds in incumbency and party have been growing per election. Ergo, there is an anti-incumbent movement underway amongst Independents.

Yes, the HC bill was impetus. That’s the whole point of the anti-incumbent movement. To vote against the incumbent or party when voters cannot approve of their actions. All anti-incumbent voting is a result of disappointment in the current party or incumbent over one to many issues. That should be obvious.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 21, 2010 02:39 PM
Comment #294306

Do you suppose the lack of ACORN involvement may have had an impact in MASS?

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 21, 2010 06:28 PM
Comment #294317

Gergle wrote: “Which means we have not averted another 1880’s and 20’s style depression. While I tend to agree with the free speech issues, and feel that 501c’s have been a complete loop around that anyway, this is a complete selling of America to corporate interests. The gilded age is back.
I’m honestly not sure if anything other than violent revolution like in 1776 will reverse this.”
Democracy: a type of government that will always fail when the people learn they can vote themselves a raise. i.e. Corporations (are people) buying themselves a raise. i.e. Corporate Personhood law and Money Is Free Speech Law and Campaign Ad restrictions lifted for corporations and unions. Next they will begin working on direct contributions to specific candidates as the Corpocracy has managed to stack the deck in their favor.
Socialism/anarchy: When the vocal minority gains control of the silent majority. i.e. Corporations = vocal minority, voters/taxpayers = silent majority.
Weigh the situation with Brown vs Tea baggers. It took something as major as a bill effecting 1/6 of the GDP to get ONE ‘Independent Republican’ elected after six months on the entire country sitting on the edge of their TV couch biting their nails. What kind of disaster would it take to to ‘throw the bums’ out? And, year after year of that to ‘keep them honest’? Should we believe that ‘throwing the bums’ out will relieve us of Corporate Personhood and Money Is Free Speech law? How would it ever be possible to achieve real campaign finance law without first abolishing CP and MISFS?
Gonna take a 3rd party with a diff. pol. Attitude, IMO

Posted by: Roy Ellis at January 21, 2010 09:16 PM
Comment #294349

Roy, the political climate is ripe for the rise of a third party. It will however, need the confluence of several resources in order to acquire high visibility amongst the electorate to really take off and draw independent voters to it. That confluence is dubious.

Still, with or without a third party, the growing ranks of independent anti-incumbent voters is the most hopeful sign on the political stage that something dramatic is about to happen in American politics. Let’s hope the outcome is for the better. The election of Brown in Mass. was pretty dramatic. I am confident there is more to come.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 22, 2010 10:17 AM
Comment #294367

I am content with two major political parties with both being fully aware of, and influenced by, independent voters. I am a registered independent and vote for candidates of both parties when I agree with their positions.

To try and organize independent voters would make them no longer independent, but rather, greatly influenced by their party leaders. The independent vote has been growing steadily and by being independent they have great influence on our traditional two party system.

Posted by: Royal Flush at January 22, 2010 12:45 PM
Comment #294557

Royal Flush,

Your argument, in general, is valid regarding a party conflicting with voters remaining independent.

However, an Independent Party whose party platform is organized around forcing greater responsibility and accountability from Democrats and Republicans by an anti-incumbent voting response to both party’s candidates, would not compromise the independence of party members.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 25, 2010 03:31 PM
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