Monday, April 18, 2016

The Triumphant Return of the "Independent" Granfalloon

A very long time ago, during the second or third blush of the Villager's love affair with Imaginary Independents (who all live in magical land of Noble Centrism far away from the tawdry skullduggery of Both Sides), I wrote a column explaining that "independents" are a fairy tale invented by a Beltway media which had coped with the complete collapse of the Bush Administration and the vindication of the Left by hiding under their collective blanket and pretending that everything was otherwise.
The "Independent" Granfalloon

...And since his schtick depends on squeezing a few extra drops out of the same old lemons week after week, [David Brooks] is never happier or more in his element than when he is curled up in his NYT Snuggie, sipping cocoa from his David Fucking Broder commemorative mug in front of a big, roaring fire of Conventional Washington Wisdom, and repeating in well-modulated tones what everyone else in D.C. is thinking. Which is why he let his Villager spurs all the way out as he rode the subject of the "independent" voter into the ground, opining in great, farty word-pillows about the mores and folkways of a group of people who -- by definition -- have no, definable commonality.

So after stitching together a couple of snippets from a couple of polls into a big, floppy sack, Bobo dumped every loose button and paper-clip of his own privileged, white, suburban, middle-aged, Boomer Burkean bourgeoisie terror into it and called it analysis...
What Independents Want

Liberals and conservatives each have their own intellectual food chains. They have their own think tanks to provide arguments, politicians and pundits to amplify them, and news media outlets to deliver streams of prejudice-affirming stories.

Independents, who are the largest group in the electorate, don’t have any of this. They don’t have institutional affiliations. They don’t look to certain activist lobbies for guidance. There aren’t many commentators who come from an independent perspective.
Surprise! By making a tasty tossed salad out of a grab-bag of different polls and "trends" that are a scant seven months long, Bobo desperately wants you to infer that the country is being driven by "independents", and independents have made some massive leap to the Right. He then sucker-punches the same, wingnut strawmen -- unions, abortion, "too much Gummint"-- in the crotch before leaving us with meaningless burbles of eternal Bobo wisdom like this:
If I were a politician trying to win back independents, I’d say something like this: When I was a kid, I had a jigsaw puzzle of the U.S....
Independents support the party that seems most likely to establish a frame of stability and order...

Nobody knows what “independents” want, because “independent” as a modern political category is a textbook example of what Kurt Vonnegut defined in "Cat's Cradle" as a "granfalloon":
"...a proud and meaningless association of human beings"
Because “independent” can mean any-damn-thing, or nothing at all...

So, seven years and 10,000 election cycles later imagine my purr delight at reading this little gem of democratic awesomeness in yesterday's Los Angeles Times (h/t Reality Chex):

The American Independent Party is California’s largest third party. A poll shows 73% may be in it by mistake. Are you one of them?


APRIL 17, 2016

With nearly half a million registered members, the American Independent Party is bigger than all of California's other minor parties combined. The ultraconservative party's platform opposes abortion rights and same sex marriage, and calls for building a fence along the entire United States border.

Based in the Solano County home of one of its leaders, the AIP bills itself as “The Fastest Growing Political Party in California."

But a Times investigation has found that a majority of its members have registered with the party in error. Nearly three in four people did not realize they had joined the party, a survey of registered AIP voters conducted for The Times found.

That mistake could prevent people from casting votes in the June 7 presidential primary, California's most competitive in decades.

Voters from all walks of life were confused by the use of the word “independent” in the party’s name, according to The Times analysis.

Residents of rural and urban communities, students and business owners and top Hollywood celebrities with known Democratic leanings — including Sugar Ray Leonard, Demi Moore and Emma Stone — were among those who believed they were declaring that they preferred no party affiliation when they checked the box for the American Independent Party.

“I just blew it,” said Deborah Silva, 64, of Point Arena in Mendocino County. “There were a number of choices. I just checked the box that said ‘independent.’”

Silva said she left the Democratic Party after being at her “wit’s end” from the deluge of mail, phone calls and other campaign paraphernalia from Democrats trying to win her vote.

While California's top-two primary system allows people to vote for any candidate, regardless of party, presidential primaries have different rules.

Republicans have a closed primary this year. Democrats will allow voters registered as having “no party preference” — the state’s formal term for an unaffiliated, independent voter — to cast a ballot. But a voter registered with the American Independent Party will only be allowed to vote for presidential candidates on the AIP ballot.

“And now, I’m going to have to tell them,” said Jill LaVine, Sacramento County’s registrar of voters. “And this is going to hit them hard.”

The American Independent Party's roots date back to 1967 when George Wallace, a segregationist, launched his ​second​ run for the White House. Wallace, ​who had run as a Democrat in 1964, helped create the new party and ran on its ticket.​ Today, that party exists only in California.

"We’re not segregationist anymore,” said Markham Robinson, who serves as chairman of the American Independent Party’s executive committee. “What we are now is a conservative, constitutionalist party.”

Someone really needs to needlepoint "We’re not segregationist anymore. What we are now is a conservative, constitutionalist party.” on throw pillows to be given away as gifts to any visitors to the Land of the Free who would like a two-sentence history of American Conservatism.

From me, back in 2009 again:
Snake-handling queer-hating Leviticans who think the GOP is too gutless because it won’t advocate rounding up Teh Gay and putting them in camps?


Bunker-dwelling survivalists?


Pimple-faced 30-something John Galt wannabees who masturbate themselves blind to “Atlas Shrugged” because that hot chick in accounting won’t give them a second look, but won’t she be sorry when Objectivists stop the engine of the world and people like her will have to stand in line to offer their vajay-jays to the alpha studs wealth producers!


Klansmen who want to smoke a little weed?


America's compulsive political middle-children who have been taught so thoroughly to compromise their way out of any conflict that they will travel a 1,000 miles just to find a fence to straddle?

The opinionless little ciphers who just want to make sure they line up with a winner?

The moral cowards wouldn’t pick a side with a gun pressed to their heads, because of the terror of then being committed to actually doing something instead of snarking their way through life declaring "Well, ya know, bote sides are juss a buncha crooks anyway!" about every situation regardless of context and circumstances?

If asked, I guarantee you all virtually of those people would tell you that they think of themselves as “independent”.


Lonnie Harris said...


1) Conservative too ashamed to claim Republican and not arrogant enough to claim Libertarian.

2) Someone who doesn't vote and bitches about government.

Neo Tuxedo said...

Someone really needs to tattoo "We're not segregationist anymore. What we are now is a conservative, constitutionalist party." on Andrew Sullivan's empty forehead the next time he demonstrates his complete de-understanding of the history of American Conservatism.

I have no idea if you were thinking such a thought on this specific occasion, but it would be compatible with everything else you've written about Captain Bareback.

trgahan said...

While a good number are former Bush supporters too embarrassed to say so, I think most "Independents" Mr. Brooks et al. meet are working professionals who are wealthy and privileged enough to prosper no matter who's sitting in the White House, so they can indulge in fence sitting while everyone else does the dirty work.

They tend to personally support Republican economic policy (cause they believe they are ONE tax cut away from being a billionaire and blaming the boss/company for anything is unseemly) while backing Democratic social policy (cause they want to smoke pot and stop paying for health care); however their bank accounts/civil liberties are never directly threatened because of their social station so they never have to reconcile the link between to two.

When backed into a corner, they write it all off as "Both Sides" (if more conservative) and "No one is pure enough for my liking!" (if more liberal).

Unknown said...

Your description of the motley crew of neofasciscts, neoconfederates, goldbugs, and so forth who call themselves "independents" only because today's modern GOP either embarrasses them or isn't braindead, hateful or extreme enough is spot on.

Of course, a growing cohort could also be described as "former right-wing deadenders, usually blindly loyal George W. Bush partisans until fall 2008, who now claim to be "independent" for the sake of career survival but haven't actually moved away from the GOP in any meaningful way other than to reflexively barf out "both sides" every time they're forced to comment on the latest GOP atrocity against reason.

dinthebeast said...

Didn't I read a study a couple of years ago that said that most self-described independents actually behaved like Republicans or Democrats? I believe the word "lean" was employed several times...

-Doug in Oakland

Green Eagle said...

Something I learned fifty years ago during a thankfully short-lived experience with the Republican party, and which all Republicans know:

The existence of "independents" as a group of intelligent, informed people focused on the issues and not the parties, is a total myth. Just think for a moment: as an adult, who has presumably taken some interest in politics over the years, how could you not know what you believe, and consequently which party you believe in? How could you not, for example, know which candidate you are going to vote for, as soon as the conventions are over, if not far earlier? People who have not made their minds up by the last few weeks of the campaign are the most ignorant and apathetic of all voters, and the easiest to manipulate.

The sad truth is, that with the voting populace being approximately divided between the two parties (for whatever insane reason) the five or ten percent of these "independents" decide every election in this country. That is why negative campaigns work. All of the rest of us have tuned out to political advertising long before the election, but these pathetic citizens are still up for grabs, and when you still don't know who you are going to vote for by late October, a little hatred and a few lies go a long way to helping you make your mind up.

RUKidding said...

Well it all depends on your definition of independents (hear me out) and how the term is used.

FWIW, I observe myself and friends and acquaintances who, for more thoughtful reasons, have distanced ourselves from the R-Team and D-Team. Speaking for myself, I don't feel that, at the fed level, the D pols who "represent" me have done a good job at all, and I don't vote for them anymore. Party politics seems to be a bit truer to form at the state and local level, although not always.

But that's talking about reality, and about people who, mostly, think and pay some real attention to what's going on.

As to what these bozos parrot out the online/print/broadcast nooz media, the use of the term is debased and basically bullshit. They're not really trying to figure out what "Independents" want or how we might think or what our viewpoints or needs are. It's a convenient term to bandy about and use for various purposes that have no connection to the real concerns of human citizens out there in the trenches trying to get by.

I would say that with this particular primary season, there probably are more citizens than usual who are watching the results closely, possibly tuning into (at least portions) debates and so forth to figure out who they might want to vote for in the primary. Some are, like myself, not registered to any party, but sure most trend towards the one of two "big" parties but don't always cast votes there.

But once the dust settles on the conventions, the pandering to so-called "Independents" is mostly bogus. Citizens have either decided to go with the party they typically favor, or they've decided to sit it out, or they're going to cast a vote for what's misleadingly called "third" parties. Doubtful that minds are swayed much after the conventions, although I still feel that the post-convention debates have merit.

I was aware of that issue with the American Independent Party in CA, where one must always carefully read the fine print on anything having to with voting, especially ballot measures. But the number of citizens registering in CA for the American Independent Party does highlight how disgusted people are with the status quo. The usual media bobbleheads do nothing to sort it out or be useful in any way.

This drek though:
Liberals and conservatives each have their own intellectual food chains. They have their own think tanks to provide arguments, politicians and pundits to amplify them, and news media outlets to deliver streams of prejudice-affirming stories.

As stated by Drifty, above, WTF "media delivers streams of LIBERAL prejudice-affirming stories"??? What? Where? When? Yeah, typical Both Siders lies from Fuck Cakes. IOW, another day ending in "y."

bluicebank said...

Knowing something about California politics, it's complicated when it comes to independents, aka "no party preference."

The indies here, myself included, are mostly Liberals, though recent defections from the state's Republicans have narrowed the gap to 3 points. Also, indies are less likely to vote, followed by Republicans, then Dems who has the highest "likely to vote" numbers. Source: ... this still makes the indies a sizeable portion of the voting public, though. (The percentage of idiots who accidentally registered for the AIP is quite small compared to actual indies.)

Now here's the funny thing: The state GOP won't let indies vote in its primaries, but the Dems will. So when a Republican leaves the farm, he/she is given the back of the hand, and they're only allowed to vote Dem (or, heh, Green, or Libertarian).

Even funnier is that California has a "jungle primary," where only the two top vote getters proceed to the General. Thus the state's brain-damaged GOP robs itself of potential primary votes and ends up, as it has, with two Democrats running for a seat in the General, and not one Republican.

And THAT is why the state GOP can't have anything nice. Because they're stoopid.

RadGal70 said...

Same thing in Oregon, only the Independent Party isn't batshit right wing. If you truly want to be independent, you have to register as unaffiliated.

Robt said...

The mistreated loyal party follower. Upset that something did not go exactly as told.
I knew someone that declared independent because Bill Clinton had consensual sex between two adults, out of wedlock. To me, he was more disturbed by right wing antagonism than anything else. So instead of being a Democrat he became a independent liberal. He found himself amongst a large group of angry conservatives.
There were too many that told me they were republican and became independent years ago but actually became independent conservative at GW Bush's end.

There are some I knew that left independent party for the "Give-Me- Tarian party".

I have been disappointed with both parties. You will have to thoroughly examine each party and get out the binoculars and look way down the road they are on. I could tell you what I see but extreme partisanship will just provide an enemy.
There are no more liberal republicans in their big tent of white supremacists, the born to wealth, the wealth of superiority. The Jim Jones's of politics. The businessmen who fail can only blame others and the ones that succeed who feel they own everything and know enough more to dictate.

the Five-me -tarian is the ultimate conservative independent.
Like Trump and his call to ban all Muslims, except his rich buddy businessmen Muslims. This is the libertarian wealth superiority.

I think the best way to describe independents is in this analogy.

Need a right to work law.
Because I don't want my union dues going to a democrat (being republican).
Unions would lobby and give money to republicans if they would work toward ensuring union rights. Democrats have and so naturally receive support.
"Those damn unions and democrats" right?
So now under right to work law pushed by republican, I won't pay dues and take a free ride on the pay, work environment and benefits the union pays union dues for and unites to strive for.
There is the guy that had really bad attendance and job performance and was being given warning from the company. He thinks "that damn union didn't defend me and get me off the hook of responsibility" so I am out of this stinking union but I will work here. Free ride from a conservative working in a union who recites Rush Limbaugh's personal responsibility monologues.
No, he won;t go out and get one of those great paying conservative non union jobs because he doesn't really have the pride in the bullshit that was filled in his head. Because Liberal.

If you look at the Democratic party, they did not start the purity trials (yet). Conservative Democrats still exist.
Biggest reason there is no public option in the ACA.

So what, independents are disgruntled party folks?
At the end of Bush's term, Sean Hannity began claiming he is a registered conservative. So very adamant he was not a republican.. But not sure if anything that comes out of his mouth is nothing but untruths.

Hillary Clinton has tried to disparage Bernie Sanders for not being a democrat. He is registered an independent. But he has always caucused Dem.

On the other side of the moon, Trump who is not conservative is running in the republican party that has purged the RINO's only to leave the extreme remaining. Check the political spectrum and see where the far extreme are on that mao.
Dems still have a mix group of the spectrum. Sen Joe Manchin anyone?
In the same party with Sen Warren.
Can anyone at all, show me the equivalent in the GOP?

Instead of standing and fighting to mold your political party, people leave and take there marble home. Then go to the independents.

I know I could not vote for Hitler if he put a "D: in front of his name. There again, I could not vote for Hitler if he put an "R" in front of his name.

But some can. And even as independents.