Monday, October 29, 2012

The dinner party vote - part II

One of our local columnists published a piece recently in which she complained about the "undecided" voter. With all the information available, with such starkly different candidates, she snarked postured, the choice of a thinking person could  make itself by now.

It was suggested that undecided, less informed and probably attention-seeking voters at this stage just do the rest of us a favor and stay home. 

Well, frustrated-columnist-who-would-like-better-polling-stats, until recently I was one of the undecided and a few things about this are worth mentioning:

First, I'm not the only one who views this election as a dilemma-fest. I want welfare reform, I want job growth, I want strong economy, I want liberal judges, planned parenthood and states' rights.  But there is no one-stop shopping with Obama or Romney.  In some way, we'll be punished for helping to elect either one. 

Second, using the terms "uninformed" and "undecided" interchangeably is sloppy. Had I been party-loyal and voted as I have historically, I would have been "decided" long ago but not necessarily informed.  This time, I wanted to shore up my decision intellectually or be pushed from it. 

Third, people say they're undecided when they really aren't because they just don't want to hear this:

You're a woman with daughters and you're more concerned with the state of the economy and job growth than women's rights?

You're the parent of college graduates and you're more concerned with women's rights than the state of the economy and job growth?

But, frustrated-columnist-who-would-like-better-polling-stats, while we undecided may represent an annoying, yet powerful "missing" percentage,  we are not insidious.  We're just cautious.

What's insidious, are closet voters. 

I met one back in  2000  when Al Gore was positioning himself to defeat  "that idiot, Bush." Gore had platform, but George Bush was waving his  3 - 5% tax cut flag around. As election day loomed, I  went to an out-of- town dinner party attended by democrats and republicans both.  Some of us hadn't met before that evening, but all of us had one thing in common besides a friendship with the hosts and  it was a high income bracket. 

Before dinner, the arguments, as they would now, dealt with social and fiscal policies, gay rights, women's rights, scope of government, taxes, spending, and of course, the always and forever-economy. At that point people were sick, sick, sick of being slammed with taxes under Clinton's administration. And yet, at the table, before all of us were seated, the idiot-Bush sentiment began to fly...

"He can't put a sentence together."
"He's a frat boy."
"He's inexperienced." 

Other shallow, empty observations followed: Gore was pasty and boring and  intelligent, Bush was naive and charming and dumb. The implication: You're an intelligent person, and you're voting for Bush?  

Later on, in our travel from the table to the kitchen to clear dishes one of the guests, a Gore supporter, said to me, "I can't say this out there of course, but are you kidding me? Cut my taxes 3-5%?  Hell, yeah. I want that." 
Then  he went back to the table and picked up where he'd left off, trash-talking "that idiot Bush" as well as all the idiots who'd vote for him. 

A lot of people wanted what he did,  it turned out.

The undecided certainly include people who can't make up their mind, and they include people who will vote if there's nothing good on television. But the undecided don't include people who very convincingly malign a candidate, then stroll into the booth on election day to vote them in as  soon as that little striped curtain is drawn closed.   

There's your poll-buster.

In the end, my process came down to locating which of my interests in the election  outsize the others and I did reach a decision. It is a decision I consider as personal as the process was private.  So that my friendships and marriage don't suffer from a gigantic election hangover,  it will stay that way.

And, if someone asks me next week who I voted for, I will have no trouble telling the truth:

I'd rather not say. 

No comments:

Post a Comment