Watching the Independents

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 84 views 

The off-year elections held in states elsewhere than Arkansas seem to be following a theme that’s held true since the end of the 16-day government shut down last month. There has to be a reasonable amount of “give and take” on political issues. Being stubborn and shutting down the government or un-doing laws passed simply because one Party wants a “do-over,” is not government.

It is closer to anarchy.

The members of the conservative arm of the Republican Party and certainly those who espouse their personal membership in the TEA Party are falling out of favor with the Independent voters and the business community.

Uh-oh.

It’s true this group has never had any recognized standing with Democrats – other than to be unreasonable and ardent foes on every public policy issue that Democrats have traditionally championed. Even the “Mainstream Republicans” (those who swear to be true Ronald Reagan Republicans) have tolerated this influx of hard-charging, quick-action, and often verbose hard-liners within their party ranks.

This surge from the hard-right, has no doubt helped Republicans make political headway in almost every state house, the Congress and nearly everything but defeating twice-elected President Barrack Obama.

Are the days of hard right charging politicians demanding change drawing to a close? Hard line conservative members of the GOP and certainly those TEA Party candidates have, by their own standards, set about to derail long-standing public policy issues on women’s reproductive rights. They’ve sought to add additional abortion restrictions, block immigration policy initiatives, push massive cutbacks in public assistance for food stamp assistance for the poor. And yes, they are explicit: What America needs is a real government shutdown, to get the public’s attention, they believe.

And these and other such issues, are awakening the Independent voter in America. Hopefully, that solid 20% segment of Independent voters in Arkansans, is waking up as well.

Look at the recent election results.

New York City for the first time in decades elected a Democratic mayor as Republican after Republican has handled the nation’s largest and one of the world’s largest cities.

Yes, the State of New Jersey, in a landslide, re-elected Gov. Chris Christie, an outspoken Republican. But he is a governor, who has proved he can work with all sides – even Democrats – to accomplish goals for his state.

The GOP in Virginia set to sweep into the Governor’s Office with a deeply conservative Kenneth Cuccinelli thought to hold an insurmountable lead. But his hard-line views on women’s rights and immigration policies resulted in a nail-biter victory by Terry McAuliffe, a former fundraiser for Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Closer to home, the United States Chamber of Commerce (a real conservative group) had to get involved in a south Alabama brawl between a TEA Party acolyte and a moderate Republican over business issues.

Right here at home, on the House government shut down vote, 4th District Congressman Tom Cotton, couldn’t pull the “No” handle to continue the government shut down.

Our 3rd District Congressman Steve Womack, the former Rogers Mayor, had clearly sent signals during this debacle he was “tired” of all the politics and would vote to restart the government. And he did.

So did the other two Arkansas Congressmen.

Congressmen Rick Crawford of the 1st District and Tim Griffin of the 2nd District also vote to end the shutdown. So tired of all the politics, Griffin, days later, threw in the towel, saying he was done with serving in Congress.

Cotton’s vote would have entirely been an insignificant vote – since the measure was already passed – but a signal to TEA Party backers he was a for real Congressman of their ilk. But Cotton, a newbie to the in-state political game, didn’t give the TEA Party members what they wanted. The big question is if the TEA Party stick with Tom Cotton?

And will the results of recent elections translate into stemming the hard right tide that began in 2008, became a tsunami in 2010, and continued in 2012?

Only the Independents and their votes will tell us in 2014. Democrats proclaim the tide is turning, while Republicans say the momentum continues.