Anna and the Independent Voter: Targeting Minorities

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's A Free Country political reporter Anna Sale continues her monthly series with us. This week: how independent groups are going after minority voters.

University of California Berkeley Political Scientist Taeku Lee said the stereotypical image of the independant voter does not hold up to scrutiny.

What struck me was the overwhelming presumption, that, when speaking of independent voters, you are just speaking about a predominantly white segment of the electorate, which, you know, all the exit polls from 2008 show clearly that independent voters today in the United States are far more demographically diverse segment of the electorate.

Anna says her experience in Virgina talking to Latino and Asian voters led her to independent voters with a different independent identity.

Throughout this series we’ve used that word [independent] to mean folks who are opting out of the Democratic and Republican parties. And it’s a little different with Latino and Asian voters, because they’re not so much opting out as they haven’t opted in, yet. They don’t look at the Democratic party and Republican party and see themselves, yet. When you ask them how do they identify themselves politically, you get answers like “none of the above” or “I don’t know.”

Anna said labels like liberal or conservative don’t really apply to the way that new immigrant voters analyze their lives, and the parties have not done a good job of aligning their positions with new voters concerns.

When you look at who self-identifies as independent, or who will say I don’t really fall into liberal or conservative, who reject those labels, you get more than half of Asian voters and Latino voters.

Clarissa Martinez from La Raza says it is a missed opportunity.

There is a lack of outreach to these voters by, what is frankly in our political system, the biggest machine to energize political participation, and that is parties or candidates.

Anna said its not just Asian and Latino voters being treated as political bystanders. Mudcat Saunders, a rural strategist for Democrats in Roanoke Virginia, said rural white voters are also being shut out, with no economic populist message coming from either party.

If Barack Obama gets after the corporate greed that everybody knows exists in this country – I mean everybody knows that – if he will get after that, I think that he would be a heck of a lot more acceptable, you know, to the culture down here.

A Latino caller from Jersey City said he is independent because he wants to see a wider spectrum of candidates, less dependent on money.

Money really shouldn’t be the reason you’re put up as an elected official…There’s college graduates, there’s high school graduates... there’s people who don’t know English... This is the United States, you know, it’s not a white country, it’s a multi-cultural country.

An Indian-American caller from Queens said he identifies as independent because the two-party system is too polarizing.

A lot of times you have to be kind of pragmatic, and come to the center a little bit, but they just stick to their sides and it becomes childish. The country’s suffering.

A Hispanic caller from Rockland County said he is independent because neither party speaks to what he feels are the important issues.

Our biggest issue is that our politicians need to stop focusing on corporations… That’s not solving our problems because these are the same companies that put us in this position.

An Asian American caller from NYC who identifies as independent said while she understands that party politics are more practical for a country with such a large population, she wishes politicians would consider proposals on their merits rather than with an eye toward progressing their party.

I think the process is too polarizing… it causes people to decide along party lines instead of as individuals.


Anna Sale


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Comments [18]

martin schneider

The constitution allows the two houses of congress to make their own rules and procedures, therefore a freshman representative in a minority party has no power. Remove the partisan controls. one person one vote, so a senator or representative can represent their constituents, not heir party.

Aug. 25 2011 05:00 PM
Jayr from queens

I wish politicians in state and federal levels could just keep in mind that we are all playing on the same team. Imagine the kind of bullheadedness that goes on between republicans and democrats happening in a home or a business: It's just toxic, frustrating and non-productive.

Aug. 25 2011 11:45 AM

... 400 super rich Americans control more wealth in the country than 150 million other Americans, and yet are effectively taxed at a rate of just over 16% while the rest of spay up to 35% plus higher levels of sales, property, and other taxes. To put that in perspective These 400 rich oligarchs effective tax rate has dropped by more than 2/3 since Dwight Eisenhower's administration – while the rate for working people has nearly doubled.


Aug. 25 2011 11:29 AM

We live in a country of unbridled capitalism not any kind of democracy. Free market capitalism is out of control and undermining any attempt at democratic process.

Marx may have been wrong about communism but, he was clearly correct about capitalism.

It is time to look to a better solution!!

Unfettered greed is not working!!!

Aug. 25 2011 11:22 AM

@ David from Fredericksburg, VA

A fellow nauseated, here!

Anyone not blowing chunks every single day has their heads in the consumeristic sand!!


Aug. 25 2011 11:14 AM
Andy from Boonton, NJ

I was listening to what Mudcat was saying on air and thought that every rural area has different needs and deserts of all kinds: food, small businesses, tech services, car based services, home based services, etc. So a broad national solution is almost guaranteed to be wrong headed from all corners. UNLESS the gov encourages micro loans. Seriously micro. Enough for one piece of equip, rent for a few months, a few months for one part time employee. Maybe this could help the underemployed, allow them to have a very small business on the side based on the needs of their community.
Impossible? Let ms know.

Aug. 25 2011 11:09 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

All the politicians make me SICK. No banking dirt bags have been prosecuted, talk about irresponsible people getting yet more via mortgage help if their mortgage is underwater. (Mine would be, but stupid me - I put "too big" of a down payment so my loan is not greater than the value of my house). Healthcare bill that benefits insurance companies & does NOTHING to control costs. If I hear oh, if you're 55 we won't touch your social security. Yeah - I'm 49 so I'll have plenty of time to make up for little or no social security when (and if) I retire.

I heard someone say the other day that maybe we'd have been better off it flight 93 had crashed into the capitol building. It greatly saddens me to half wonder if they were right.

Aug. 25 2011 11:09 AM

In this, the great United Korporations of America®, there is no right of left, no Democrats, no Republicans... there is only the Party of the Korporation® and the Holy $$.

Don't be deceived, the corporate superstructure is protected regardless of the so-called "party" in office.

Where did all the money go?? To the people without jobs, to struggling homeowners?? to students who can not afford outrageous tuition??? to people who can not afford basic health care???

NO!! It goes to the bankers and corporations and insurance companies!!

Record profits, bailouts, fewer jobs, higher premiums and tuition...

Where does the money go...??

The Super Wealthy are still so!!

In an economy like what we have now you can only get ahead and protect your assets with the collusion of a sympathetic government.

Do the math!!

Aug. 25 2011 11:06 AM
Jayr from queens

I wish politicians in state and federal levels could just keep in mind that we are all playing on the same team. Imagine the kind of bullheadedness that goes on between republicans and democrats happening in a home or a business: It's just toxic, frustrating and non-productive.

Aug. 25 2011 11:03 AM
Brooklyn_Working_Mom from NYC

Anthony took the words/sentiment out of my mouth. I am anti-politics these days - so many of our leaders have really let me down (& I am not alone in my feelings). I am female and feel similar to many minorities. This 'patrician' system just isn't working & it seems both sides look out for primarily the same interest groups.

Aug. 25 2011 10:57 AM
bob from queens

As Ralph Naders says: "We gave the best government that money can buy." Whether voters lean left or right is an increasingly moot concern in a system where money trumps all.

Aug. 25 2011 10:55 AM
Mark from West Milford nj

I feel alot of the problems with obamas attempts to advance his initiatives is a basic prejudice by the white conservative block that is in charge in most of Washington and spins a story that a lot of white America is believing in. A lot of white America can't deal with a black president. And I'm white

Aug. 25 2011 10:55 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I think it is a good and admirable thing that Americans historically have tended to reject ideologies and political philosophies, and basically go with whatever appears to work.

And our "winner takes all" two-party system has proved to be politically more stable and more responsive than the fractionated multiparty parliamentary systems of Europe and elsewhere.

The rise of independents forces both mainstream parties back to the center and away from extremism.

Aug. 25 2011 10:55 AM
Chris from Brooklyn

Campaign finance reform! Both the big parties are corpratist parties focusing on wedge issues to divide the population. Nobody will represent the people if they have to collect millions of dollars to get into the polls. If the elected officials represent the public, let the public pay for the elections.

Aug. 25 2011 10:54 AM
Christopher from Brooklyn

We don't live in a democracy as much as a republic. Why is that so frequently left out of the discourse? We can only be as good as our elected representatives allow us to be.

Aug. 25 2011 10:50 AM
Laura from Brooklyn

The number one most urgent thing we need to do is put the health and welfare of the global environment front and center. And the most pressing issue among the many crisis the environment is facing is Global Warming. This is not being faced in a serious way by either party.

Aug. 25 2011 10:50 AM
Camille from Brooklyn, NY

I think we need to make a distinction between Independent and Non-Affiliated voters. There is and "Independent" party just like Democrats and Republicans. Libertarians are a party - just like the Green party - not independent.
I am registered as a "No Party" voter. I am an African American female in my mid-30's who was a Republican party for may years and am disgusted by all of them now.

Aug. 25 2011 10:49 AM
gary from queens

One of the proudest things I felt after admitting to myself that I was a conservative (by around 1995) was the conservative philosophy itself. The fact that conservatives HAD a governing philosophy. It involved the role of the central government (Federalism) and economics (free markets, sound money system, etc.) and national security (what constitutes US vital interests, etc.)

Conservatives and their think tanks tackled those issues in the context of their political theories. Like a scientist would, by advancing a hypothesis (theory) and testing it in reality. That is the forthright way to deal with our nation's problems.

In stark contrast, liberals and Democrats do not have a political philosophy. Other than big government through spending. But that's discredited anyway.

What they rely on for political power is "identity politics", or "going after minority voters" as this segment phrases it. It is the devoid of a governing philosophy. It essentially says, vote for me and i will use government to favor you in some way.

It is cynical and borders on violation of the Equal Protections clause. It seeks to build coalitions of people willing to support government favoritism to another group if they will support the same for them. Wonderfully reciprocal, when it works.

It avoids substanitive issues of merit. Debate is not about true equality of means, but about preferences and outcome manipulation. There's no debate on the merits of an issue. Rather, it facilitates political demogoguery.

As we've seen.

Aug. 25 2011 09:35 AM

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