I’m not sure Republicans in the North Carolina legislature care what Independent voters like me think, but they should. Overall, Republicans has lost the 11 point advantage Independents gave them and now trail among all likely voters.
Take a look at how Independent voters line up on six key issues of debate in the General Assembly based on various scientific polls including Public Policy Polling.
- 85% of Independent voters oppose permitting the outdoor billboard industry to override local tree ordinances and clear more trees so billboards can be seen for longer distances compared to only 9% in favor.
- 60% of Independents prefer to minimize cuts to education compared to 26% who support letting a temporary sales tax expire instead.
- 53% of Independents prefer a separate vote to extend unemployment benefits compared to 23% who support making it conditional on other issues.
- 46% of Independents oppose compared to 28% in favor of chopping a week off of early voting.
- 78% of Independent voters support retention of the law requiring greater reliance by utilities on renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- 80% of Independent voters support new legislation to double the amount of renewable power that energy companies are required to use.
Political parties formed almost immediately after the founding of this nation as a “representative” republic but not for the same reason. We became a republic because it was hard for the general public to access information and voice opinions in a timely fashion. But that’s no longer true.
Parties formed around dangerous factions focused on seeking power and control, a danger noted by President George Washington in his farewell. I’m not sure the nation or North Carolina is ready for a pure democracy, although with new technology that is more than feasible.
It is still valuable for elected officials to take a closer and more in depth look at issues as long as they exercise what a recent book by a conservative columnist terms good “mental character” which is far more important for “real-world” judgment and decision making. Far too many forget they are elected to represent “all of the people,” not just those who voted for them.
But several elements of “mental character” don’t come easily to many politicians such as the “tendency to collect information before making up one’s mind,” “seeking various points of view before coming to a conclusion” and a “disposition to think about future consequences before taking action.”
A good start would be for Republican lawmakers in North Carolina to listen to the collective opinions of Independents, that is unless they want the only time that party has controlled the legislature in 136 years to be “one and done.”