No, I’m not referring to the Miami-bound Indianapolis Colts. I’m talking about political independents.
Myriam Marquez’s most recent Sunday column tackles the Florida Senate race and attempts to draw a parallel to Massachusetts independents driving Scott Brown to victory and the critical role of Sunshine State independents in deciding who will be Florida’s next junior senator.
Independents, according to Marquez (who is one, BTW):
(d)ecide on issues, not on platforms created by corporate America or labor unions or religious leaders. And most independents are fiscally conservative and socially liberal. We are gut voters looking for new ideas, for leaders to crack the partisan divide, which is why Barack Obama was so attractive to independents.
Marquez, to her credit, admits her disappointment at falling for Obama’s empty rhetoric:
Then, as president, he left it up to the most liberal Democrats in Congress to come up with the specifics, but not before selling out to insurance companies. So much for change. Labor unions got their protection from the proposed tax on Cadillac insurance policies while the rest of us are expected to pay up if the reform becomes law.
Wall Street? Blah, blah, blah. Obama talked the game, but didn’t demand a change in bank rules. The bankers are getting multimillion-dollar bonuses on the backs of the public bailout, and now the president is talking tough again.
Unemployment? Obama let Congress do the dealing, which meant the public unions got theirs. Money poured to public-school teachers, fire departments and cops — all absolutely necessary expenses to avoid ever-more crammed classrooms and unsafe streets.
But the unemployed construction workers, secretaries and small-business people didn’t get much. A little more money in their unemployment checks and food stamps. They want jobs, not welfare.
Again, Obama missed a chance to push for more money for public works projects in which private contractors could hire workers for tax cuts focused on small businesses — not Fortune 500 companies. All of this he should have done his first year.
Should have. But it’s not in President Obama to do them. He’s not fiscally conservative. Never was. He is, however, most definitely partisan. Something independents run away from like the plague.
This all gets to something that has always struck me as somewhat curious about some independents, and I get the feeling Marquez exhibits some of the following characteristics. They (some) proclaim to march to the beat of a different drummer, and even relish in their disdain of partisan, ideological yahoos to the point of being smug about it. All this in the name of centrism.
However, as the 2008 presidential elections demonstrated, these same proud independents (some), somehow lost their “independence” and failed to match Obama’s rhetoric with his record. In their permanent desire to go against the flow, they voted for someone who so far has taken us down the stream towards the waterfall instead of upstream towards high ground.
Now, I’m not slamming all, or even most, independents. Just the ones that like to point out how dumb people are for having an established ideological ground despite how well or poorly formed that foundation is. The fact is, it would have served independents like Marquez to put aside their inclinations and listen to the real and genuine concerns many Americans had and continue to have about Barack Obama. Results like the one in Massachusetts prove that most independents are indeed capable of acting out their label. Let’s just hope they don’t lose their way. We’re going to need them later this year and beyond.
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