Politics

Independents Gaining Ground In 2010?

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USA Today highlights an interesting trend that may be good news for the centrists, indies, moderate repubs and moderate dems out there.

A taste…

WARWICK, R.I. — Lincoln Chafee comes from a long line of Rhode Island governors, three in the previous four generations, all of them Republicans. Now the former Republican senator and mayor of Warwick is running for governor himself.

As an independent.

No independent has been elected to lead a state for more than a decade, since pro wrestler-turned-politician Jesse “The Body” Ventura became governor of Minnesota in 1999.

But this year there are three credible independent contenders for governor — a record. […]

The other two are Tim Cahill, and indy turned Dem who’s running against incumbent Dem Gov Deval Patrick in Massachusetts, and Eliot Cutler, a Dem (who was briefly registered with the GOP) turned Indy who’s running for Governor in Maine. Cutler was a former Carter administration energy official who also helped craft the Clean Water and Clean Air acts while he was a legislative assistant under Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine.

Also, let’s not forget Charlie Crist, who’s now leading in a three way race in Florida for that Senate seat.

I think we all realized that this was coming sooner rather than later, especially with the Joe Lieberman situation. He was one of the first to switch to the middle after his party rejected him…and it seems like he’s been having a pretty good time in the middle. True, a lot of hardcore Dems hate him, but he still toes the party line a majority of the time so Dems might want to wise up. Especially since it’s likely that Romney will be the Rep candidate in 2012 and Lieberman could easily support Obama under those circumstances.

But to get back to the point…

Again, this writing has been on the wall for years. People hate party politics. And even though Fox News and the far right wing have co-opted the Tea Party, what we’re seeing as a result of these primaries is that people don’t want to go with the status quo. 2010 is a bad year for incumbents, be they Dems or Repubs. Most likely this will hit the Dems more because they make up the majority, but the mood is universally “throw the bums out.” Voters see the inherent flaws in being tied to this ideology or that, because politics has always been about the art of the compromise, and these newly minted independent politicians could actually deliver a new path forward.

But will people actually vote for an Indy?

Well…

Sixty percent of those surveyed in the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll say they are very or somewhat likely to vote for an independent candidate this fall, signaling at the least an openness to the idea.

“These are bad economic conditions and an extreme public disenchantment with the major parties,” says Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution and a former political science professor at Brown, in Providence. “That creates an opportunity for independent candidates.”

What’s unfortunate is that the Tea Partiers would be electing people who are far more likely to just be another cog in the right wing machine, as opposed to true independent thinkers. Well, let me back up. It’s not unfortunate because, as mentioned, the net effect may be politicians who are now not tied to any party and can make the best decisions.

Still, we’re not naive. We know that palms will still be greased and backs will still be slapped, but at least it appears we’re moving in a better direction.

So…who will you be voting for in the Fall?