November 6th, 2009
12:01 PM ET

Return of the militant middle

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/11/05/art.teaparty.gi.jpg caption="Tea Party activists hit the Hill, arrested outside Pelosi's office."]

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

If there is one thing that unites Democratic and Republican elites in DC, beyond of course a deep disdain for ethics rules, it is a fundamental inability to understand independent voters. The most important trend worth watching in the election this week was the behavior of the independents, and it should have sent campaign gurus running into bunkers with armloads of canned goods.

Barack Obama was swept to victory by a shift of moderate and independent voters to the Democratic side one year ago. But this week, in Virginia and New Jersey, his independent horsepower bolted from the barn. Sixty percent or more, in each place, voted Republican.

The GOP crowed over their new found friends, and Dems quietly cursed the loss. But both parties remain largely blind to what is really happening. The independents who voted for Barack Obama did so because they believed he would make a good stab at fixing the economy. But now, with the deficit still soaring, mortgages still failing, and unemployment lines still growing, they are on the move again.

They were never Democrats. They are not Republicans now. They are the deciders. They are issues voters, personality voters, trend voters, but they are pointedly not Party voters. And that is the point. A Democratic friend said some years ago, “I’ve had it with independents. They should just make up their minds!” What she, and many partisans have trouble grasping is that they already have. Millions of independents have made up their minds that both parties (and with them, the far left and far right) have failed.

I’ve talked with thousands of these folks, the Militant Middle as I’ve always called them, and they have no interest in even a hint of loyalty to the parties which they see as outdated, mean-spirited and more concerned with their own political gains than the country’s progress. And just as the parties play voters against each other to win, the independents play the parties against each other to get what they want: Government accountability.

Their message to all elected officials is, “We’re in charge. Not you. Get something done, or get out.” And if the economy does not substantially improve by next fall, the Militant Middle will lay into Democratic and Republican incumbents alike with a vengeance.

Filed under: Opinion • Raw Politics • Tom Foreman
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. keith in ky.

    You don't have to have a party affiliation to know when something just goes against the foundations this country was founded on. The policies this administration are putting forth just don't set well with middle america and that is the place they need to be, not this far left agenda, when will they get it that is not going to fly here, if that is what they want they need to move to cuba,venazuela or perhaps middle east those countries like to complain about the U.S. they would find a captive audiance there!!

    November 7, 2009 at 8:05 pm |
  2. Janelle in Missouri

    I'm proud to be a member of the Militant Middle and hope that more will join us so we can truly bring about a "change we can believe in".

    November 7, 2009 at 12:47 am |
  3. Annie Kate

    The candidates though (whether you are Democrat or GOP or Independent) are always more of the same – they talk a good game on the campaign trail but once they are elected that all goes out the window. If this was Great Britain we would have voted "No confidence" on both parties. Most times on most elections the only smart way it seems to be to vote "None of the above"......that describes the frustration with what is going on and how no one seems to be a real force for change.

    November 6, 2009 at 9:04 pm |
  4. steve- virginia beach, va

    Well said, Mr. Foreman. Well said.

    November 6, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  5. Arachnae

    I wish people would quit insisting that 'independents' are some magical middle ground between the left and the right. Many of them aren't on the left-right spectrum at all, anarchists or libertarians or gold-standard fanatics or whatever, whose burning issues aren't even on most people's radar.

    November 6, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  6. Lisa in CA

    Ding, Ding, Ding ... So somebody finally gets it right! What a shame the two dominant parties STILL don't get it. Or perhaps they are just to arrogant to get it? Perhaps, yet still, they just don't get that we are smarter than they would like to believe and feel we will just fall into step and do as we are told? Regardless, I don't hold out much hope for them as they are too far outside reality (as are their advisors, spin doctors, insiders, etc.) to understand and/or accept the unrest around the country. I wish I could feel bad for them when they awake from denial into shocking reality.

    November 6, 2009 at 3:20 pm |
  7. Jeanette

    Fix the issues that are dragging our country down...or get out!

    November 6, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  8. Jeanette

    You couldn't be more accurate about independents, I know because I am independent and will always be.

    November 6, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  9. Melissa

    They are wishy washy and change their minds at the drop of a hat.

    November 6, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  10. Tim Gibson

    Well well stated.

    I am one of the militant middle, I vote policy, economics and common sense not party lines. The horse has long left the barn and it appears he or she is not coming back unless the people who hire and fire the politicians change the curve and it is my belief that the curve will change come next fall. Out with politics as usual and back on track to building America and the American dream which has become the American nightmare.

    November 6, 2009 at 8:47 am |
  11. Lori

    You tricked me. I thought this would be a foriegn war piece.

    I think you are right.

    November 6, 2009 at 8:27 am |