OPINION

MUSHY MIDDLE!


by Steve Fair

A recent Gallup poll found that 43 percent of adults in America identify as political independents. This is a new high. Those identifying as Republican or Democrat are at 27 percent each. Those identifying as Democrat are at the lowest level ever. More independents lean Republican than Democrat. Gallup says the implications are the Democrats are in a weaker position in 2024 than they have been in recent election years. They conclude the Parties need to nominate a candidate who can appeal to independent voters. Politicos call those voters the mushy middle. Because of the noise on both sides of the political spectrum, conventional wisdom is the mushy middle is shrinking, but apparently not. Appealing to voters who are angry and believe allegiance is more important than objectivity is futile. It’s those open-minded, ready to consider something without prejudice voter that sway elections- the swing voter. Three observations:
First, those in the middle are not always unprincipled. They can be uninformed on an issue. They can be very well informed on an issue. Many just want personal freedom, individual responsibility and have a compassion for those in need. Most all Americans — liberal or conservative — agree with those traditional Judeo- Christian ethics. Why are those in the middle considered compromisers and accommodators by both liberals and conservatives until election time? Because that is when the middle’s vote is needed. Campaigns and candidates praise the mushy middle and say virtually anything in an attempt to get their vote.
Second, the middle represents the majority. The Gallup results are not surprising. Americans are fed up with their government. Liberal thinkers don’t believe the country is liberal enough. Conservatives believe America is too liberal. The middle isn’t sure what they think. They do recognize what is going on with their government isn’t working. The majority of voters are fed up with politicians who promise and don’t deliver, ignore real issues, spend too much taxpayer money and will not admit failure- ever. But those same midway Americans fail to see they get the government they deserve. A Pew research poll several years ago found 75 percent of Americans do not actively engage in politics. That is why the middle is branded mushy and pliable. The middle is manipulated and exploited for political gain because they are the low information voter who can be persuaded with a clever ad or fancy mail piece.
Third, staying in the middle is not a good strategy. When you stay in the middle of the road, you can get run over. Those in the middle should align with their core, fundamental values. Most are principled people who aren’t afraid to take a stand in every other area of their life- except politics. That is why they should take the stand. Their laissez faire attitude might look objective, neutral and impartial, but it doesn’t result in good government. Government by the people requires eternal vigilance.
Saul Alinsky wrote a book in 1971 titled, “Rules for Radicals,” Alinsky outlined ten ways to artificially stimulate conflict and promote disunity to further a cause. Both political Parties embraced those rules, resulting in polarization, strife, discord, and division within their ranks. The mushy middle is growing and leaning more to the right because conservatives are tired of the drama.
Steve Fair is Vice Chairman of the 4th district of the Oklahoma Republican Party. He is available to speak to groups and civic clubs. He can be reached at steve.fair@ymail.com. His blog is stevefair.blogspot.com.