At our recent precinct convention I was surprised to see some neighbors I hadn't realized voted Democrat.
"I don't usually," one lady assured me (reassured me?), "Well, what I mean is, I'm not affiliated with a party. I'm an independent."
I was curious what had persuaded independents to the Democratic side, or more particularly to Obama's side, and more importantly, what the Democrats need to do to convince these independents to vote for the final candidate in the presidential election.
"It's time for a change," another lady said, 'We have a lot of domestic problems that need attention, and I think the Democrats will give those issues the attention they need."
That point of view resonates with the other independents I spoke with, each of whom had some similar and some different reasons why they were independent. In general, they believed in voting on the issues, and their issue priority list shifts a bit, as does who and which party they believe can best address their top issues.
I also kept hearing about a big hole in our party system: there is no party for socially liberal and fiscally conservative.
I think that's the key the Democrats need to consider when trying to win over the independents. The Republicans like to paint the Democrats as big spenders. In truth, both parties are big spenders. Consider how much the war has cost so far ($87000000000.00) and how big the deficit is ($427 billion). The irony (or difference) is want versus need: the American public seems largely convinced that war is a necessary evil but social programs are unnecessary. Thus debt for war is acceptable and budgets for social programs are not.
So when the Democratic candidates speak persuasively about domestic
programs and social reform, a large contingent of the American public,
including the independents---who are often socially liberal but
fiscally conservative---hear cha-ching cha-ching. We've been
conditioned this way.
But it's a fair question: how will these things be financed?
The current explanations are perhaps not persuasive enough. People don't believe that we can fix the economy and expand social programs without increasing taxes, and since everyone is already worried about a possible recession, the last thing they want to consider are higher taxes.
If the Democratic presidential nominee---whoever that ends up being---wants to win, he or she needs the independents. To achieve that?
Start addressing the fiscally conservative concerns more plainly and clearly.
I think all anyone is hearing right now is a repeated recitation of each candidate's curriculum vitae.
I think what we want to hear is more about Obama's and/or Hillary's fiscal plans. In fact, when I asked independents, more than one said Obama's specifics in his plan, which was straightforward and believable, is why they elected to vote for him.
So Democrats, quitcherbickering and start talking more about your budgeting, and how it's going to work, and not cost us too much.
Julie Pippert also uses her words at her personal blog.