Moderates and Independents

by Thomas Goldsmith Oppenheimer on May 19, 2012

I know that numbers crunchers are advising the candidates about the demographics which will determine the outcome of the November presidential election, and I won’t dispute whatever conclusions they draw. However, this one man’s observation is quite simple: two camps who won’t determine the outcome are on the far side of each aisle. Staunch Democrats see in Obama the embodiment of their principles of liberal government, even when his actions belie the platform. They will vote Obama no matter what. Staunch Republicans are just as incapable of seeing anything good in Obama. He could convince Al-Qaeda to denounce Islam and hand over all their guns and ammo, devise the means to make the US an economic juggernaut, and cure cancer, and those opponents would still vote Romney.

So the middlers and the independents are the ones whose votes are out there to be won. The question is which subgroup will be influenced by which issue. I think that Obama will begin now with solidifying the issues that liberals promote, such as gay marriage and environmental issues. I think Romney will do the same with staying firm on immigration and reducing the size of government. What I am wondering about are the other issues and the effects on the undecided or the still-to-be-influenced voters.

Will Obama relent and support the Keystone pipeline? Will he open up oil reserves to reduce gas prices and take the high price complaint off the table? Will Romney soften his stance on gay marriage, or make any and all tax increases a target for his stump speeches?

I have trouble with this component of the process because I don’t think the monor issues, like gay marriage, and abortion, and a number of others are critical issues. We have had more than 40 presidents, and they have had myriad opinions on those side issues, and we don’t evaluate them as effective or ineffective presidents on the basis of those issues.

The legacies of presidents are determined by some simple issues. Did they keep the American people safe? Did they promote the expansion of the economy and thereby foster a higher standard of living for the people? Did they support programs that allowed or encouraged individuals to improve themselves and their lot?

I did not like John McCain’s positions on a number of things, and momentarily considered voting Democrat in 2008. However, when Obama made larger government a natural effect of his vision, I ran in the right direction. Because Obama will be the left candidate, I am among those whose vote cannot be won. I am fascinated to see what each candidate will do to sway the swayable.

What do you think the issues of significance will be?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Christina July 15, 2012 at 8:01 pm

It’s as easy as this. I am “No Party Affiliation” and so is my husband. We are NPA because we don’t take the time to study and research each candidate. (If I did I would have to make it a full time job because when I involve myself with something I give it all I got.) We feel that we can leave it up to the respective die hard Reps and Dems to make a wise decision. As for my true beliefs… And the General Election.. I would have to say that I’m personally 90% Rep. & 10% Dem. I’m just hiding in the closet with a NPA sign on the door. I will be voting for Romeny in the Gen. Election. As for which minor issues may sway NPA’s??? All I can say is “That s!@# is one big infected pimple.” Just sitting here thinking about it is giving me a headache. It seems so easy on one hand but so hard on the other. I see things in very absolute ways but that stuffs just a bunch of gray matter that swims around my brain like a fish in a fish bowl. I Hope that my view and maybe others views after mine will give you a better Idea as to what power the NPA’s will have in this election.

Reply

Sid June 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I must say that as someone who is center-left I find your article’s tone most welcome. We often only hear the most egregious and incendiary comments from both sides of the aisle and I find it most refreshing to see your temperate stance toward partisan politics. Thanks for the calm conversation. It’s much appreciated.

You point out that liberals see Mr. Obama as the embodiment of their liberal ideals. Many do, but you also mention that in his actions he departs from the party’s platform and they support him anyway, implying a monolithic and ideological emphasis in the way they vote. I would say that the liberal end of the Democratic party is very unhappy with many of the more conservative actions his administration has taken. Obama has accomplished things that had a Republican president done them, Republicans would be trying to carve his face on Mt. Rushmore. ( I can give you a list, but please. They’re all politicians after all. ) Whether the ‘liberals’ will even participate in November’s vote on any scale comparable to 2008 is in doubt, to my mind. I wouldn’t paint them as so monolithic. The Democrats aren’t nearly as organized or effective politically as the Republicans.
Do you think the tea party will stick with Romney simply out of animosity to Obama and the Democrats? I see a possibility that he might turn them off during the campaign. Do you?

Reply

Anonymous June 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Well Sid,
I see the Tea Party as something akin to the Occupy people. They are organized and of one voice only when the media paints them as such. Neither activist group has anything resembling a clear vision or a useful platform. However, I think the Tea Party thinks they will be able to gain and cultivate power, and they believe they will be able to do so regardless of whom the Republicans nominate.
In an earlier post, I mentioned that I am in favor of voting for Romney, despite reservations about his real political stances, because I believe the tea party will prevent him from exercising the influences he genuinely believes in. For instance, at his core, I think he is les opposed to socialized health care than he lets on (see Romneycare.) I think he knows that balancing the budget with Draconian tax and spending cuts will throw the economy into the next recession – and maybe depression. However, his concern over placating the tea party, and other conservatives, will drive him to a decidedly conservative approach that will avoid the most negative consequences, but which will still discourage the further expansion of government.
By contrast, I think Obama is inclined to be a far left liberal. He has displeased his true supporters because the populace will not tolerate anyone who doesn’t govern from the middle. I do not think he is intentionally destructive; I think his true beliefs are that government needs to take care of people. That belief, in my opinion, makes him dangerous to the country.
Here’s the simple truth: in a second term, Obama will have the nerve to take his programs far to the left. He can’t run again. Romney, if elected, will need to avoid any extreme positions, thus rendering him less dangerous.
Vote Romney. Save the country. Vote Obama, start covering your head.

Reply

Sid June 3, 2012 at 8:56 pm

This is what I don’t understand: why would you think Obama is far to the left in his heart? What I see is a conservative Democrat who has passed a free market Republican designed approach to bringing down the costs of health care, brought two costly wars to a close, eliminated two enemies of this country along with a host of others, guided a stimulus package through that helped bring the economy out of the ditch at least, rescued our financial institutions from ruin and probably the economy with it, halted torture, eased the burden on students who have loans, passed various tax cuts as part of the stimulus, all while dealing with an enormous mess he inherited all the while trying to negotiate with a party that chose to be utterly uncooperative during the middle of a severe down turn, while under the most aggressive and determined political attacks ever staged against a President. (Deep Breath.)And a bunch of etc’s.
So in all sincerity, I ask you why is it you think he’s from the far left? Educate me!
This is my take on this.
We can have a big government that doesn’t interfere with our freedom (Norway) and we can also have a small government that destroys all of them (Panama under Noriega.) This is all idealized, of course. I’m sure you can think of exceptions. But big government to me is a neutral term. Its just a government that’s big. Meh! The important question about government to ask is ‘what does it do?’ Is it merely a government that pursues liberal policies that bothers you? Is that your real objection? Big LIBERAL-ish government? Didn’t Bush’s expansion of government surveillance of US citizens bother you? Or was it OK because you trusted him, but you wouldn’t trust Obama if he did the same thing? I’m not saying you would or wouldn’t, so contradict me if I’m wrong. Yer tern.

Reply

Sid June 3, 2012 at 9:44 pm

Sorry, I got started and got way off topic. We were talking about the election and how the parties will influence things. I agree with anon about the Tea Party and the influence they’ll likely exert.

Reply

Thomas Goldsmith Oppenheimer June 3, 2012 at 10:34 pm

Sid,
I was the anonymous contributor, but I forgot to sign in. Here goes in response to your question.

1. Heathcare – read almost any review of the healthcare bill and one major factor becomes clear: the bill usurps all capitalism, substituting instead an overriding belief that government is the best arbiter for who needs what care, and at which point s/he will be excluded from it. The adjudicators by definition will not come from the medical establishment, but from ‘impartial’ bureaucrats. Consequently, a knowledge of human nature tells me that people who do nothing will be getting rich, and that the architect of the program has little faith in the individual.
2. Whether the subject is the bailouts or the stimulus or even the wars, the prevailing belief exhibited by Obama is that government needs to monitor and control human behavior. Read up on the regulatory process in the US when compared to some of the more economically robust economies, such as Germany. We have R&D departments that develop products well in advance of other countries, but our companies are moving to international sites because here the product will take 7 years to be approved, while other countries will expedite the process.
3. A central theme of Obama’s commentary is his belief that government will provide control for the worst of human behavior. I think failure will do a better job of curtailment. Yes, the costs will sometimes be objectionable and disgusting, as people will do heinous things in response to greed. However, stifling regulation and intrusive government will cost more, as it will send product development overseas in an attempt to circumnavigate the process.
4. Obama knows that the top 10% of wage earners in this country already pay more than 50% of the taxes in this country. Attacking the top 10% – those reporting more than $200,000 in income – will have a deleterious effect on the country and the economy. Obama, in my opinion, has no intention of following through with the attack, but left to his own devices, I suspect he might give the most liberal approaches a try.
5. As is the case with Romney, I have no idea where Obama’s ideology lies. I merely speculate that his rhetoric has some connection with his thinking.

Reply

The Nomad June 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Thomas,

I think you make several good points regarding the entrenched attitudes regarding political parties. Many individuals are very much set in their ways. In response to your point regarding President Obama’s growth of government, I’d like to respectfully point out that the number of government jobs under the Obama Administration has actually shrunk. I’ve posted a link in reference below.

http://mediamatters.org/research/201205290014

Reply

Thomas Goldsmith Oppenheimer June 1, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Please read the entire article. You are being led by a liberal website article that, despite its best efforts, still manages to reveal the flaws in their own presentation of information.

Federal government jobs have increased by a good number. State and local government jobs have been lumped in to allow the claim that government has shrunk. State and local jobs, spread out across the country, have been lost because state and local revenues have shrunk, and local municipalities, mostly, have been forced to cut programs, and therefore, jobs.

Interestingly, the comments that follow spend a great deal of time trashing Fox News, and Republicans in general, for committing the exact deception that they are using to make their case.

I know Romney has probably inflated his numbers as well, using some creative accounting. However, government jobs themselves are not the sole measure of the ‘size’ of government. Latitude and scope of government influence and control are also involved.

Reply

Erik the Red May 28, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Thomas,

I agree. Just like with the latest smear on Scott Walker in Wisconsin, the general consensus is that the voters on both sides have already made their decision and any “new dirt”: won’t make a difference.

With the nation as a whole, however, who are concerned with more than just teachers’ salaries and collective bargaining, there are definitely other issues that come into play for, as you mentioned, those in the middle.

First, I think that The Prez may have shot himself in the foot nationally regarding Gay Marriage, though it remains to be seen. I mean, he’s obviously safe in NY and Cali and Illinois no matter what his stance is, was, or will be. But he seems to have thumbed his nose at the vast majority of Americans who, despite all of the media’s attempt to soften their views and/or enhance their acceptance of such a union, still have trouble accepting Gay Marriage.

Taxation is another biggy. Here on Long Island, we have the 2nd highest property taxes (next to the Napa Valley, I believe) with no end in sight. Though NY City is hopelessly ObamaLand as well as are the Hamptons, I have personally spoken to several small, independent business owners who are royally ticked. People everywhere (particularly those on fixed incomes) are getting upset for having their cost of living raised at every whim to pay for other people’s mismanagement.

You and others are surely tired of hearing it from me, but the only real answer for those people in the middle who are undecided is to vote for Ron Paul (that is actually the best answer for the decideds too, but I digress). He has the best answers for the above and many other topics (I didn’t say ALL), not to mention that he isn’t an Establishment sellout.

Peace

Reply

Pat May 23, 2012 at 9:43 pm

I think your full of shit. You’re right, have always been right and will always be right. Sorry, I don’t buy your independent bs.

Reply

Thomas Goldsmith Oppenheimer May 24, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Thanks for your detailed analysis. I may very well be full of it, but I believe this forum is designed for interested readers to point out the faulty facts or poor reasoning. The result then is a discussion that has the potential to benefit both parties and other readers as well.

It may interest you to know that I am wrong at least once a day, and that I have had really tough days where I was wrong multiple times. On those occasions, someone was able to provide me with information that I was missing, or to demonstrate where I ahd made an error in either inductive or deductive reasoning.

In short, your opinion has added nothing. Thanks for the effort. I assume that if you could have done more, you would have.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: