What if the pundits are—GASP!—wrong?! Virtually every election cycle we’re told that we must appeal to the “independents” (sometimes called the “moderates”). These people don’t like Republicans or Democrats…conservatives or liberals; Rather, they are supremely interested in “common sense,” “toning down the rhetoric,” and “getting things done.” The interesting thing, of course, is that every time Republicans nominate candidates seemingly tailor-made for these elusive voters, they lose.
In 1966, some were convinced that what California wanted was a moderate--someone in-between Pat Brown’s liberalism and the supposedly “extreme” views of Ronald Reagan. Democratic mayor of Los Angeles, Sam Yorty, even went so far as to threaten to give his endorsement to Reagan’s primary challenger, George Christopher because, “I don’t have nearly as many differences with Christopher as I have with Gov. Brown and his machine…Certainly Christopher is more of a moderate and has more executive ability than any of the other announced candidates.”
The California GOP decided to throw wisdom to the wind in the 1966, however, and handed their nomination to the fire-breathing Ronnie Ray Gun. And it’s a good thing they did.