One of the key reasons I’m an independent voter, with membership in no party, is that I see so many people representing the major parties on TV who just repel me. I really don’t want to be on the same side as those people.
One of them is the Rev. Al Sharpton. He’s an ardent Democrat with a national TV show on MSNBC. The problem I have is that he’s also a blatant liar, one of the most shameless hustlers of all time. Anybody who paid any attention to the Tawana Brawley case knows that.
I won’t take the time and space here to go into the details of that old case. It’s easy enough to look up. My point is simply that until and unless Sharpton comes clean on the Brawley case and the vicious, lying smear he orchestrated against a good and decent guy, Steve Pagones, I’ll never have any use for the man.
Once, at a political dinner in Albany, I asked Sharpton when he plans to apologize to Pagones for falsely trying to paint the guy as a rapist.
“Never,” Sharpton snarled back.
Later on, one of Sharpton’s deputies, a Brooklyn clergyman named the Rev. Herbert Daughtry, came over and asked me what I have against Sharpton.
I said, “Reverend, I’m just trying to do my Christian duty in giving Rev. Sharpton a chance to get square with God for the lies he told during the Brawley case. I’m only doing what I can to help Rev. Sharpton save his own soul.”
That pretty much put an end to that conversation.
On the other side, I just wince at the pure BS I hear from so many of the Republicans – the birther insanity, the Obama is a socialist nonsense and all the rest of it. But I’m annoyed most by people like Bill Donohue, who ends up on TV every time Fox News goes looking for an angry Catholic spokesman.
Bill Donohue, the $400,000-a-year head of a group called the Catholic Conference, always fits the bill. He’s an insufferably self-righteous professional Catholic, even though he’s divorced, and he seems to spend every moment on TV in a state of foaming, red-faced rage over this or that. Compared to Bill Donohue, Newt Gingrich is Mohandas K. Gandhi.
I was raised Catholic and identify with that religion more than any other. (My precise religious views and practices are none of your business, just as yours are none of mine, but that’s a conversation for another time.) The idea that the perpetually furious, warlike Bill Donohue represents me or most other Catholics is nothing short of hilarious. He represents Catholics the way Tomás de Torquemada represented Catholics.
I don’t want to be on the same side as him, either.
What’s interesting is that people who think as I do are exploding in numbers in the voting population. More than 2.5 million fed-up voters have left the Democratic and Republican parties since the 2008 elections. A USA TODAY analysis of state voter registration statistics shows registered Democrats declined in 25 of the 28 states that register voters by party. Republicans dipped in 21 states, while independents increased in 18 states.
The trend is most conspicuous in states crucial to the 2012 presidential race. In the eight swing states that register voters by party, Democrats’ registration is down by 800,000 and Republicans’ by 350,000. Independents have gained 325,000. The strident, offensive voices of the left and right have driven millions of people out of both parties.
Registered Democrats are still bigger than any other group – More than 42 million voters, compared to 30 million Republicans and 24 million independents — but Democrats have lost the most. They’ve lost 1.7 million party members, or 3.9 per cent, from 2008.
Democratic registration has done worse than Republicans in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — the eight swing states with party registration. Republican losses are biggest in Nevada, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
By contrast, the number of independents has grown for years and is up more than 400,000 since 2008, or 1.7 per cent. To win re-election, Barack Obama has to capture a majority of independents. He did that in 2008 when 52% of independents voted for him, but independents are a varied lot. They’re not all moderates. Some think the Democratic Party is too conservative to join. Some see the Republicans as too liberal. We know this from the 2008 election exit polls.
Those polls also showed that self-described independents who voted for Obama in 2008 were more worried about the national economy, and correctly so, than independent voters who backed John McCain. Fifty-five per cent of Obama independents were very worried compared with 44% of McCain independents.
Independents who voted for Obama also were more likely to be swing voters than were independents who voted for McCain. About 25 per cent of Obama independents voted for a Republican for the House in the 2010 midterm elections, while only 10% of McCain independents voted for a Democratic House candidate.
What it boils down to, it seems, is that most independents just retch when they flip on the TV and see partisan, religious phonies like Sharpton and blustering, sanctimonious, partisan loudmouths like Donohue. Guys like that represent pure poison to most independent voters like me, and we’re the people who decide elections.