Monday, October 20, 2008

The Undecided

Ah, the undecided. Who are they, how can they be undecided at this point in the campaign, and why are we so concerned about them? 

The Daily Show's Samantha Bee and Jason Jones pranged the undecided the other day: 

I don't generally meet the Undecided and, frankly, have a hard time understanding how someone could be truly uncommitted at this point in the campaign. There really are clear differences between McCain and Obama from which to choose. I do, however, get the sense that the Undecided are not all that undecided in the first instance, just unable to articulate what they want or, rather, what they want to hear about. 

A case in point is a recent exchange I overheard while visiting my favorite local donut establishment:

Hipster Doofus Donut Slinger (HDDS): Yeah, I really don't know who I am going to vote for yet. I would have voted for McCain in 2000 but I just don't know what happened to that guy. 
Hipster Doofus + Baby Makes Three in a Running Stroller (HD+BM3): I know what you mean. I am not happy with either candidate. 
HDDS: Are you going to vote for the Nader and Gonzalez
HD+BM3: No, are you kidding me!? I hate those guys! I am kind of libertarian.
NDDS: Oh, how about Bob Barr then? I would vote for Ron Paul because he is the only one who is talking about "real" issues. Too bad he is not running anymore. 
HD+BM3: I thought about McCain but Sarah Palin is really frightening to me. All that "God's Will" stuff bothers me and there is no way she is ready to be president. 
HDDS: Yeah, I know. God's Will but what, Palin, are YOU going to do? 
HD+BM3: I think I am going to vote for Obama and simply hope for the best. There is not much else I can do but I still don't know . . .
HDDS: I'll probably do the same thing.
At this point my hot chocolate was ready and I left this interesting conversation to its own course. What struck me clearly is that neither of these two actually knew what they wanted beyond a kind of abstract libertarianism and certainly were not sure they could find what they did not know they wanted in one person or party. It was plainly obvious that they were also frustrated by our wonderful two-party dominant system that marginalizes third parties. Neither of them wanted to waste their vote, both seemed to want what was best for the country (what that may be is open to interpretation), and both were getting ready to hold their noses and "hope for the best". 

I walked away thinking that Americans have no problem choosing what to buy (what flavor donut for example). Why, then, are they so very, very unpracticed in the art of choosing leaders? Perhaps Shenkman is correct in his critique of the Consumer's Republic as it undermines the notion of the Citizen's Republic. 

Come on 8% of the Electorate. Account for yourselves!

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