The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
Media -- Dont Quote Me  |  News Features  |  Talking Politics  |  This Just In

The independent herd

Is the nation in the midst of an unheralded political realignment?
By STEVEN STARK  |  October 6, 2010


Purple Mass Group: Massachusetts has more Independent voters — and candidates — than ever. Will they ever make a difference? By Chris Faraone.
The big news in this election cycle is the rise of the Tea Party. Fair enough. But since every action causes a reaction, passing under the radar is an accompanying development that could have even more far-reaching consequences — the rise of an emboldened third force in our politics. This could even lead to the emergence of a new independent party that could alter the outcome of the 2012 presidential election, not to mention the future course of our history.

Yes, the Tea Partiers have already ousted GOP incumbents in half a dozen states. But at least some of the losers in those states are not going quietly into the night. In Florida and Alaska, the moderate GOP incumbents who were beaten in the primaries by more conservative Republican candidates are staging independent candidacies in the fall. They follow in the footsteps of Rhode Island's Lincoln Chafee, a former liberal Republican who is running as an independent for governor.

Whether successful or not, these third-way independents may well be the harbinger of a new political age. On the Democratic side, Connecticut's Joe Lieberman bolted his party several years ago when he lost the primary to businessman Ned Lamont but went on to win re-election. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has been all over the map — moving from Democrat to Republican in 2001 and switching again, to independent, in 2007.

Why is this significant? Over the next few years, Democratic and GOP moderates are likely to feel even more isolated within their parties. The diminished rank of Democrats in Congress that arrives in January will be more liberal than its predecessors, since those most likely to lose in November are the moderates who got themselves elected in swing districts.

Meanwhile, the confident Tea Partiers will be looking to build on their assumed 2010 success by targeting every GOP moderate in sight. Highest on the list will be Maine's Olympia Snowe — admired by many for her, well, independence, but despised by the GOP right for much the same reason.

So far, politicos in Maine don't think it's much of a possibility, citing her strong personal ties to voters of many political stripes, including not a few Tea Partiers. The truth could well be otherwise. What Snowe says or does now is irrelevant — for the time being, she has to maintain her ties to the GOP establishment. But post-November, when the handwriting on the wall becomes increasingly visible, Snowe's only viable option will likely be to go the independent route.

Other Tea Party targets are likely to include Republican senator Orrin Hatch of Utah — who may face a challenge from Congressman Jason Chaffetz, Tennessee senator Bob Corker, Indiana senator Richard Lugar, and even Massachusetts's Scott Brown, whom Sarah Palin has already publicly dissed. As for Brown, it may seem unlikely that the Tea Partiers could dethrone the GOP hero of 2009. But the Republican Party is so small in Massachusetts that all it might take is a well-organized effort to topple him too, just as Mike Castle was unexpectedly defeated in Delaware this past month.

1  |  2  |   next >
Related: Brown-nosing and flip-flopping, Going Gaga for gay rights, Gay Tea Party Witch Sex: Three tales of erotic political fiction, More more >
  Topics: News Features , David Petraeus, Olympia Snowe, Michael Bloomberg,  More more >
| More
Add Comment
HTML Prohibited

 Friends' Activity   Popular   Most Viewed 
[ 04/28 ]   Alkaline Trio + An Horse + Marathon  @ Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel
[ 04/28 ]   "Awesome Foundation Party"  @ Middlesex Lounge
[ 04/28 ]   Boston Ballet  @ Opera House
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   DEMOCRATS AGAINST OBAMA  |  November 03, 2010
    Now that the midterm wipeout has concluded, analysts are already sizing up the GOP challengers to a weakened Barack Obama. Not only that: some Democratic party elders are considering the once-unthinkable scenario of a debilitating challenge to Barack Obama from inside his party.
  •   THE INDEPENDENT HERD  |  October 06, 2010
    The big news in this election cycle is the rise of the Tea Party. Fair enough. But passing under the radar is an accompanying development that could have even more far-reaching consequences — the rise of an emboldened third force in our politics.
  •   THE AMERICAN IDOL PARTY  |  September 23, 2010
    Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell might not turn out to be good candidates, but they make great television.
  •   HAS OBAMA PEAKED? YES, HE HAS  |  November 12, 2009
    To listen to some pundits, Barack Obama's public image began taking a serious beating when the off-year election returns came in a week ago. Or maybe it was the undeserved Nobel Prize, his approach to the war in Afghanistan, or when he revved up his pursuit of national health-care reform.

 See all articles by: STEVEN STARK

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2011 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group