Monday, July 25, 2016

July 25, 2106--A True Independent

I pretend to be, but in reality am not a political Independent.

Yes, back years ago, I voted for Jacob Javits who was a "liberal" Republican senator from New York. And at the presidential level, after a failed four years of Jimmy Carter's presidency, in 1980, conveniently not remembering, I may have held my nose and voted for Ronald Reagan.

About that one, I have regrets.

But in every other election cycle, I voted as a pretty much party-line Democrat.

When I think about myself as an independent, I am not referring to how I vote but rather that I like to think about myself as independent-minded.

So this cycle, at the risk of alienating my liberal friends, in the spirit of independent thought, I have been struggling to understand the Trump phenomenon and contending here and elsewhere that he ran one of the most remarkable primary campaigns in history and that he is smart and politically skilled enough to have tapped into the zeitgeist that derives from and motivates many millions of disaffected Americans.

Though never intending to vote for Trump, I have been attempting to remain independent-minded enough to make the distinction between my voting plans while taking note of his ability to understand what is motivating alienated voters. I have also tried to alert those of us who are not among his supporters to the forces churning within our culture, forces not well enough understood by the liberal elites.

For example, just the other day, as an example of out-of-touchness, David Brooks in his column in the New York Times rather hysterically claimed that only Ted Cruz among Republicans has the chutzpah and cojones to tell the faithful the truth--that Trump has taken the Republican party hostage and will turn it into a "cult of personality." Brooks pined for the GOP party of "Lincoln, TR, and Reagan."

He forgot to mention that it is also the party of Nixon and George W. Bush. In fact, it is more their party than either Lincoln's or Brooks.'

Clearly, though describing himself frequently as an Independent, Brooks among most others has his mind fully made up, not to be confused by historical inconveniences.

In fact, surveys show that most who claim to be Independents are anything but, and conclude that only between and 5 and 10 percent truly are. They are the only ones struggling to figure out which candidate to vote for--Trump or Clinton. The rest of us are committed to one or the other and there is almost nothing that could happen between now and November that would convince us to switch affiliations.

As Trump horrifyingly but insightfully boasted, he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still win the nomination. And Hillary could have said, "I could break the law about passing along top secret documents via my private e-mail server and also be nominated."

So how intrigued Rona was the other morning when we stopped at a local market to pick up a copy of the New York Times.

Passing the paper to her, Kate said, "I am in a quandary about the election and for the first time may not vote."

"Really?" Rona said.

"Really. I like some things about Hillary and some things about Trump. But then there are enough things about each of them that I don't like that I may stay home on Election Day."

"Are you a registered Republican or . . ."

"Neither," she said, "I'm an Independent."

"We'll talk more later," Rona said. "We're rushing to meet someone. But to tell you the truth, you may be the first legitimate Independent I've ever met. Everyone else I know may say they are but aren't."

"That's me! Kate smiled.

Back in the car, after reporting this brief exchange, Rona said, "That was such an unusual way to talk about the election. How there are things she likes about both candidates."

"Very unusual," I said. "Do you think we know any liberals who consider themselves Independents saying anything like that about Trump?"

"Or for that matter any Trump people having anything positive to say about Clinton?"

"I can't wait to talk more with Kate as November approaches. Very interesting."

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