Two Types of Independents

I’ve been watching the poll numbers for President Obama. While he’s on a downward slide overall, he’s in particular trouble with what the politicos term “independents.” Just who are these people?

Actually, there are two groups I would call independents. The first group is less numerous—people concerned that the political parties are not holding firm to their principles. This group is comprised of probably equal numbers of those on the left and the right of the political spectrum. They tend to be upset with the lack of conviction they see in their respective parties [whether Democrat or Republican] and are often tempted to vote a third party.

The second group is the one that the analysts spend more time discussing simply because of their numbers. This group counts all those who are caught between the two parties—sometimes they vote Democrat, sometimes Republican. I have another name for them: unprincipled.

They look around and take measure of whether they like what is happening or not. If they don’t, they punish the party in power and give the opposition the opportunity to take over. Quite often, they make their decision based on what will make them feel better about the future, especially their financial picture. They rarely base their decision on what is right governmentally or upon sound economic principles. Their vote can be bought by whoever promises them enough hope and change.

Unfortunately, elections turn on whoever wins over this group. Obama took the “independents” last time. Now they are turning on him, but only because they don’t like the way things are going, not because they are thinking about principles. It’s a sad political truth, but one that must be recognized.

I maintain that this mushy middle group can be turned toward correct principles, but we have to enunciate them clearly and effectively. Sometimes those with sound principles don’t know how to communicate them. We have to work on that.

One of my favorite comic strips was Calvin and Hobbes. I use examples from that strip constantly in my teaching. One of the most insightful of those comics was one that illustrates what I’ve been talking about.

Too many people simply have whims. If they think of principles at all, they assume their whims qualify. Principles need to be bedrock truths based on the revelation given by God. Those are the only ones that really count.