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For the sake of argument, let’s suppose that American voters really do want something different in their candidates.
We hear the rationales all the time: Politics is too packaged, too plastic, too driven by polls and consultants and focus groups. What we need is a politicians who says what he (or she) means, means what they say and stands up for his or her beliefs.
From time to time, we get one of those: A Ross Perot or Ron Paul or whatever. They generate a lot of buzz but then — in the end — the same pre-packaged, consultant-driven and focus group molded empty suit is nominated.
So do voters really want change? Or do they just want diversion for a time before going into the voting booth and voting for the status quo?
If you look at Ron Paul’s base of support, you find younger voters relatively new to the political process along with older voters who are fed up with the same old political pabulum they have endured for too many years.
But neither group generates the kind of numbers that it takes to win elections.
“As more and more voters see little hope of change, the ranks of the disenfranchised grows,” political scientist Andy Hartigan tells Capitol Hill Blue. “When a majority of voters stay home on election day, a minority controls a system of government based on majority rule.”
Four years ago, Barack Obama‘s talk of change brought many new voters into the process. They bought into Obama’s message but they aren’t buying this time around. Obama turned out to be just a repackaged version of the same old political stereotype that has dominated politics for the past several elections.
Which means many of the newcomers to the political process from four years ago now join the disenfranchised ranks who see little use in voting.
So far in this political season, turnout in most of the primary elections and caucuses has been abysmally low. Of the four remaining GOP Presidential candidates, only Paul stirs any real emotion or conviction from followers but Paul’s core base of support hovers around 12-14 percent, which is no where near enough to bring him the nomination.
On the Democratic side, Obama’s campaign crowds are smaller and less enthusiastic than four years ago but he has the advantage of incumbency and a base that will most likely overshadow the eventual GOP nominee.
Wary Republican voters continue to search for an alternative — any alternative — to presumed frontrunner Mitt Romney but the former Massachusetts governor continues to eek out victories and add delegates. He probably won’t win pretty but he will probably win — more by default than by any real mandate.
Current polls suggest Obama will cruise to through this year’s election to win a second term. He will have the money and the organization. No Republican currently on the ballot beats him convincingly. Sometimes, Romney or Paul appear to come close but Obama’s job approval is edging upward and whomever captures the GOP nomination may be too bloodied by the bruising primary.
In his classic song, Me & Bobby McGee, Kris Kristofferson wrote:
Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose,
And nothing ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free
Sad times indeed when a folk singer spouts more truth than the so-called leaders of our nation.