". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Undecided Voters

I am sorry if this post offends anyone. But I just have to say that I find this animal known as the "undecided voter" to be a bit confusing, particularly when one is talking about the two major party candidates at this point in the presidential election. Those two candidates are as different as they can be, in style as well as in substance, and they have offered two highly contrasting visions for this country's next four years. One of them has a four-year record that indicates exactly what his approach will be if he gets four more years to act. I know there are those who in general dismiss politicians, particularly major party ones, professing the belief that "they are all alike" and that none of them can be trusted. I don't subscribe to that view, but if I did, I would probably find myself not undecided but apathetic, deciding to eschew the voting booth, period, or like some of my friends, vote third-party. But if one has not given up completely on the two major parties, one cannot look at the two current candidates without seeing a clear demarcation between them. They are very, very different in their backgrounds, philosophies, and values. They have been promoting their agendas for years. There is a wealth of information readily available for anyone who wants to learn more about them. They have now participated in two debates. How can one still be undecided?

I heard an undecided voter on television yesterday morning explaining that he remains undecided because according to him both major candidates speak only in generalities, offering no specifics about what they want to do and how they would do it. I don't understand how anyone who has been paying the slightest attention could come to this conclusion. It strikes me that the aforementioned undecided voter is doing the very same thing he accuses the candidates of doing; speaking in cliches and generalities as he comes up with rationalizations for why he does not see the difference between these two. He based that assessment on the most recent debate. I would suggest to that voter that a debate is not the ideal format for a candidate to get into the nuts and bolts of how he is going to execute his broader vision. Not only does the time limit prevent such detail, but any candidate who started engaging in that kind of minutiae would be derided as boring and tedious, or more kindly, "wonky," the morning after the debate. These candidates really can't win for losing. We tell them we want them to tell the truth but the truth is we don't want to hear it. 

To that voter on the morning talk show who complained that he can't make up his mind yet because the candidates aren't offering enough specifics about what they would do, I commend several documents for his perusal. First, Mitt Romney's 5-point plan, available in a one-page summary or a more detailed eight-page version. It is available here

Second, a fuller fleshing out of Romney's economic plan, available here. It is 160 pages long and includes discussion of 59 specific points.

And anyone who is still unclear about what Obama would do might consider taking a few days off and reading the entirety of the Affordable Care Act, which, depending on which version you read, runs anywhere from 900-something pages to well over two thousand. That act has not yet been fully implemented. If Obama wins a second term it will be.

And dear, undecided voters, those are just for starters. The information you seek is out there if you really want to avail yourself of it. The question is, do you? Or do you just want to continue complaining while clinging to your ignorance?


Cheryl said...

P.S. I can respect the undecided voter who is willing to admit that he simply hasn't been paying attention until now and that he is working on becoming more informed so that he can cast an intelligent vote. But it is a cop-out to say one can't find the resources to aid in his decision-making.

Susan said...

One kind of undecided voter: The one who can't decide between third-party and one of the Big Two. My daughter is in that position, and I can respect that undecidedness. (Well, maybe she's decided now, but she has chosen not to say.) She sees her husband's point of view that nothing will change if we keep electing one of the Big Two. She also sees her parents' viewpoint that voting third-party in essence gives a vote to the Worser-Of-Two-Evils.

Another kind of undecided voter: A person who believes strongly in some things that one candidate says, while believing strongly in something else the other candidate says. What if you're strongly pro-life and also strongly socialist? Or what if you're strongly in favor of abortion rights but prefer more capitalistic economic policy with lower taxes? Maybe the voter isn't undecided on his own position, nor on where the Big Two candidates stand, but undecided as to which portion of his values he'll vote for and which he'll vote against.

Cheryl said...

Good points, Susan. I think the type of undecided voter that I am mostly expressing my frustration with here is the type in the interview I heard--the one who says he is undecided not because he is truly conflicted but because according to him he does not have enough information on which to base a decision. That is the one I don't get!

mz said...

I was undecided for a time. I was deliberating voting third party or following the path of voluntaryism and abstaining altogether. In the end I decided on third party as I hope that increasing support for alternatives will help advance the kind of change I would like to see. I do not agree with the premise that a vote for a third party is wasted. I walked out of the voting booth four years ago holding my nose after casting my ballot for the supposed lesser of two evils and I promised myself I would not do so again.

And since you mentioned Obamacare, I am wondering why you would have any reason to believe Romney would make any significant alterations since Obamacare is Romneycare Redux? I hope that does not come across as snarky or disrespectful, but rather in the interest of genuine discussion as intended.

Cheryl said...

mz, when it comes to Obamacare I am taking Romney at his word. He says he wants to repeal and replace. Of course, he will need GOP control of the House and Senate to get that done.

Re: voting third party, I can tell that you feel strongly about your decision and I respect that. I have a different opinion but I doubt it would be productive for us to debate it. So let's just agree to disagree. :-)