By Carole on Feb 22, 2012
As the fight for the Republican presidential nomination chugs along, the party establishment continues to push former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as the only contender who could win over independent voters in a general election. Just like in 2008, the message is that only a moderate Republican who fails to inspire the conservative base can defeat Barack Obama in November. It was the wrong message then and it is the wrong message now.
While making so-called electability (also known as the ability to win over independent voters) the only criteria that should be used to choose a candidate, most who do so fail to acknowledge why independent voters exist. These are people who are so minimally informed and marginally interested that they cannot choose between liberal and conservative ideology, the nanny state or self-reliance, spreading the wealth around or the right to keep what one earns, mandatory worship of big government or true religious freedom.
These are voters, who during the last presidential campaign were swayed by a catchy yet meaningless slogan; who were so enamored with the idea of being part of an historic first that they didn’t bother to notice the inexperience and incompetence for which they were actually voting.
Yet to win over this easily swayed minority of Americans who seem to pay closer attention to American Idol than American politics, we are told we must accept a moderate candidate who inspires neither the base of the GOP nor those all-important independents.
It makes much more sense to accept what the Democrats have known for years – that the party base will work harder for a candidate that is a true believer; someone they can call their own. Democrats have also learned that independents are not won over by some vague idea of moderation or a promise of bipartisanship that is impossible to keep.
No, independents are won over by novelty and excitement. According to James Jackson, a 40-year-old Fort Worth independent who even leans Republican, "It seems like in the last month or so everything's just chilled out. I just haven't been following it lately."
If Republicans truly want to take back the White House, they must do what the Democrats did in 2008 – nominate a true believer of their own; but a competent one. And doing it in a novel and exciting way that draws the attention of those “chilled out” independent voters wouldn’t be a bad thing either.
Which brings us to the possibility of a brokered convention. Again, the GOP establishment is trying to sell us on conventional wisdom; that it would be a disaster if no current candidate won enough delegates by the end of the primary process. They cite the difficulty a new candidate who might emerge as the nominee would have in gaining national traction, raising enough cash or establishing enough of a campaign organization.
But that conventional wisdom was established before the internet, before the 24/7 news channels and before super pacs. Information, money and personnel are much more quickly disseminated, acquired and organized in modern political campaigns than they were in the past. And with most of those all-important independents (and quite a few Democrats and Republicans) not even paying attention to the 2012 race yet, a qualified and dynamic candidate could get that golden ticket out of Tampa and make it all the way to the Oval Office.
Rather than the political disaster the naysayers predict, a brokered convention could be just the kind of reality show that those independent voters love and it could produce the kind of winner the country needs.
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