June 7, 2012

The Dependence on Independents, or Switching Between Coke and Pepsi Won't Prevent Tooth Decay

This should not come as a surprise to anyone, but your intrepid blogger was watching PBS Newshour last evening.  There was a story about the results of the latest American Values survey from the Pew Research Center.  The study has been tracking social and political attitudes over the past 25 years, and as should surprise no one, the partisan divide has widened significantly over the past ten years. But, what might be surprising are some of the reasons that Pew sites for the widening gulf.

It may not be that the population on the whole is getting more partisan, but rather that the Big Two parties are concentrating.  According to the survey there are now more Americans who identify as independent than Democrats or Republicans.  We'll come back to that in a second.  (Probably, a big part of the polarization is the rise to prominence of the Rupert Murdoch/Roger Ailes-effect on journalism.)

Pew Director, Andrew Kohut went on to describe the typical independent voter (see if this sounds familiar?): he/she values substance over rhetoric, doesn't see social issues as significant, and is most concerned about jobs and education.  Yep, that sounds about right.  Perhaps, the widening divide between Republicans and Democrats is due to the more reasonable people leaving.  Or, perhaps the Big Two have gotten so silly that the rational middle is being driven out in a desperate move of self-preservation.  Chicken or egg.

Wouldn't it be nice if the rational middle stopped voting for D's or R's? Stopped just being the swing that decides elections and have something tangible to vote for?  It'd be nice to be able to avoid the Sophie's choice for once, and break up the toxic morass that is the Either/Or problem we have when choosing representatives.  Maybe, even Fox News would go off the air...but, alas, I have no great alternatives to suggest.  Looks like for the foreseeable future we are stuck with the same old problem of deciding between a turd sandwich and a giant douche.  What are you going to do, vote for Gary Johnson?

"I've been on Jon Steward as many times as Obama."

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