January 26, 2010


(Pick which one is going to get all rogue and strange)

Fear of the independent voter. It's certainly been around for a while. Probably since there was such a thing as a secret ballot. In 1975 the big worry was the coming election in 1976. Who were all those independent voters and were they really going to vote another Republican into the White House? The concern was mostly for the demise of the two-party system. Were they irrelevant?

On May 7, 1975, NPR ran a National Town Meeting entitled "The Independent Vote: Is It Killing the Two Party System?" Hosting the discussion was Robert Novak and the panel consisted of Arthur Schlesinger, Louis Harris and Richard Obenshain, co-chair of the RNC.

Arthur Schlesinger: “No one can doubt that the two-party system is in grave trouble. And no one can doubt the rise of independent voting. But I think the rise of independent voting is the consequence, rather than the cause of the crisis of the party system. The real question, it seems to me is why is the party system in this trouble, why have party loyalties become so weak, party affiliations so fluid, party organizations so irrelevant?”

Then as now, the difficulty in pinning down who the independent voter was and what made them tick. But the real question was if two party politics was going to head into obscurity.

They wondered in 1975 - they worry in 2010. No change.

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