ONCE UPON A TIME, Cindi Johnson was rooting for Barry Goldwater to win the presidency, drawn to his hawkish views on the war in Vietnam. “I just wanted to see it brought to an end, one way or another,” she says.
In the years that followed, she voted against Richard Nixon but for Ronald Reagan. One time she voted Libertarian. She voted for George W. Bush in 2000, but went for John Kerry four years later. She then voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and Deval Patrick in 2010. She’s leaning toward Obama again this year.
Johnson is, in voting record and in spirit, a true independent. She always has been. She finds no sanctuary within the Democratic or Republican parties, both of which she believes are concerned principally with their own political interests. “It’s, ‘We’ve got to keep up our party, we’ve got to be the ones getting credit,’ ” Johnson says. “And, you know, the middle class and on down are suffering. And we’re continuing to suffer. And sometimes I think it’s only going to get worse.”
In 2010, Johnson was one of many independent voters who helped send Scott Brown to the US Senate, and she’s been largely pleased with him so far. But she is impressed by Elizabeth Warren, too, and has not made up her mind yet about how she’ll vote on November 6. For Brown to hold on to his seat, Johnson is precisely the kind of voter he needs in his corner.
The only child of Swedish immigrants, Johnson spent most of her childhood in Quincy, first in North Quincy and then in Wollaston. She remembers sneaking into the former naval air station nearby, where she and her friends would climb into fuselages and pretend to fly. She finished high school in Brookline, after her father got a job there as a maintenance supervisor.
Johnson went to Chandler School for Women to become a medical secretary, later training as a radiology tech. Over a long career in the medical field, she worked at several Boston-area hospitals, including Brigham and Women’s. Retired now, she is single, lives in Norwood, and volunteers at a Medfield dog shelter.
Though she has been a regular voter, Johnson says politics were always an afterthought. Part of what keeps her an independent is her frustration with Washington and what she sees as its skewed values. “This is now government by corporate America for corporate America,” she says. “I really, unfortunately, believe that. The ordinary people — we’re the losers.”
Warren’s advocacy of tougher scrutiny of the financial industry and a more level playing field among consumers and corporations resonates with her. “Elizabeth Warren is going on about Wall Street being held in check and being accountable and more rules and regulations,” she says. “And they need it. So badly.”
Johnson likes that Warren and Brown both come from working-class backgrounds and made a name for themselves. Warren is also appealing because Johnson believes that having more women in power would mean less ego and more diplomacy in Washington. But though she thinks Warren has potential, she’s not sure Warren is more deserving of her vote than Brown.
With some exceptions, Johnson says, Brown has displayed a willingness to follow his judgment instead of his party. “He’s someone who dares to step a little bit out of line,” she says. As a strong supporter of abortion rights, she appreciated Brown’s condemnation of Representative Todd Akin of Missouri, now running for Senate, after his controversial remarks about “legitimate rape” in August.
“Right now,” Johnson says, “they both got a good shot from me.”