Punching a Hole in the Big Boys’ Political Science Paradigm

Punching a Hole in the Big Boys’ Political Science Paradigm

Linda Killian’s book, The Swing Vote  is stirring up the national conversation about independent voters.  Last week, Ruy Teixeira, a DP operative and the author of  The Emerging Democratic Majority (2002) wrote a scathing and self serving review of the book in which he asserts that Linda’s book is based on “the greatest myth in American politics: that independents are actually independent. They are not,” says Teixeira.

James Taranto, writing in the Wall Street Journal, takes apart some of Teixeira’s assertions about who indies are and are not, and his slippery use of polling data.

Linda responded in a Daily Beast piece: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: How Ruy Teixeira Got it Wrong on ‘Swing Vote’.  Referring to Teixeira’s charge that indies are a myth, Killian has this to say: “Such a charge is larger than just one book and goes to the heart of what is wrong with our political system and with the party and the media elite who control it.  They don’t believe there is room for the voters….”

On Friday, Jackie Salit, the President of IndependentVoting.org also responded with a piece on the Huffington Post: “Ruy the Day!

Salit comments, “Teixeira argues that voters are defined by who they vote for….  Leaving aside the obvious point that in nearly every election, the only choice voters have is a ballot, or ballots, for one or another major party candidate, but they still feel it is important to maintain their independence.” 

It is an excellent piece—definitely worth a read.  And I couldn’t agree more with Salit’s ending: “The problem with political science, which Teixeira worships, is that it isn’t a science and it’s extremely political.  Killian’s book may have its flaws.  But she did punch a hole in the Big Boys’ prevailing political science paradigm, the one that is strangling the country.  You go, girl!  That’s worth a read right there.”

Hope you will all get involved in the conversation.  Post a comment here, or go to any of the pieces above and add your thoughts!!!

PS  If you missed our discussion with Linda Killian on February 26th, you can listen by calling (218) 844-0952, password 732282#.  To fast forward into the conversation, you can press 2 once you have logged in.

Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

5 thoughts on “Punching a Hole in the Big Boys’ Political Science Paradigm

  1. The demographics are much more complex than the viewpoint of Jackie
    “Independentvoting.org” Salit. Her 40% independents are based on
    “likely voters” in various polls. There is an 80% moderate voter majority
    everywhere. 94% disapproval of Congress. The financial interests of
    99% are not represented by any party. Ds and Rs represent the
    financial interests of the 1%. Why would anyone in the 99% be a D or
    an R. One reason. By default. They control the law. There are nearly
    no other choices.

    99% of incumbents who run are re-elected. Monopoly? You bet. Almost
    no one supports a party beyond the futile act of voting. A civics100
    lesson: http://cs2pr.us/hamco/civics100.html . See the “Good News.”
    I am a Green Party candidate for US Congress. I have been a
    non-partisan independent for all of my life. Fiscal conservative. Social
    moderate. etc. Citizens for Stevenson: http://cs2pr.us/Rich . There is
    much much more to add to the conversation on political reform.
    Rich Stevenson

  2. The “meta dialogue” about the Teixeira review of the Lillian book is important. What independents are, what we want, what we are becoming, has everything to do with where our political system is headed. Salit, Killian and others, like John Avlon and Mickey Edwards, view independents as having a politic that is distinctly process oriented and anti-party. The major party insiders, like Teixeira, have a big stake in fitting indies into the partisan paradigm. The disagreement is not about an abstraction. After all independents (now 40% of the elecorate) will surely be affected by this dialogue and direct engagement in it is a key part of our political development.

    In this regard, Sarah Lyons of IndependentVoting.org deserves a shout out for organizing a series of workshops in which independents are trained on how to become spokespersons for our movement.

  3. I’m an independent and I exist! And so do the other independents I work with in our PA organization (Independent Pennsylvanians) and the many ordinary folks we speak with who are profoundly dissatisfied with the two party stronghold, or more accurately, strangle hold on our democracy.

    In Teixeira’s critique of Killian’s book he seems to see himself as this objective scientific knower of fact. That’s funny.

    He refers to a psychology personality test in one metaphor, and as a licensed therapist I will go toe to toe with him here. He said:

    “As I have pointed out before, independents are the Rorschach test of American politics—you see in them what your beliefs and preferences incline you to see. Killian’s book follows in this not-so-proud tradition”.

    Of course this dig assumes that he is not doing the same thing! Teixeira is a Democrat who has the profound arrogance to say that 40% of voters do not really exist, you cant get more biased! He is looking at Killian’s book through the lenses of a 2-party system advocate.

    In fact he says in another dig at independents:

    “But they do share with Killian a tut-tut attitude toward the political parties, an unrealistic conception of the efficacy of third-party politics in a structurally two-party system”.

    Of course what independents are standing for –our independence from the two major parties – is unrealistic. That’s the point of our independence we want to create another ‘reality’ that is more fair and democratic for ALL voters – even the ones Teixeira and other D and R operatives refuse to see as existing.

    I love the line Jackie Salit ends with in her response to Teixiera’s critique of Killian’s book:

    “The problem with political science, which Teixeira worships, is that it isn’t a science and it’s extremely political”.

    Kudos to Linda Killian for her book – which a read and loved, especially how she spoke with us ordinary independents. She sees us!

  4. Teixeira’s review of Linda Killian’s book, The Swing Vote, is completely typical from someone who is reliant on the dominance the two major parties have asserted over the American political system. He comes across as someone who is very threatened by reality. Knowing that 40% of the electorate is not what he perceived to be the dominant group, Democrats, means the credibility of his analysis in the book he co-authored in 2002, The Democratic Majority, was erroneous.

    Linda Killian didn’t proclaim that her book was the “holy grail” on independents. She made it clear that she spoke with a sampling of independents from the most notable swing states and I think she did a wonderful job illustrating the varying opinions of independents. To her credit, Linda Killian believes there is an injustice taking place against independent voters and she was willing to shine a light on that injustice.

    As an independent voter and the president of an independent organization, I am insulted by Teixeira’s proclamation that independents are a myth, that we are independents in name only and that we are closet partisans. I find it interesting that he can come to that conclusion without actually speaking to any independent voters. On a positive note, I believe that people like Teixeira are helping to bring the conversation about independents to the forefront of the political discourse.

  5. Bravo Catana! I agree with you wholeheartedly. It’s with such arrogance that political pundits like Teixeira try to explain away a mass phenomenon (40% of the country!) with a single proclamation. Lucky for us, they are only feeding the flames for a growing independent movement because the more they try to deny us and fit us into their partisan box, the more Americans become dissatisfied with politics as we know it.

    Here’s another article to add to the discussion:

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