FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Undecided Voter Examined

by BEN TRIPP

If you shout “fire” in a crowded theater, most people will respond, one way or another. Most of them will run out onto the sidewalk and start to form a lynch mob; some of them will boldly check the theater for combustion-related activities. The undecided voter is the guy still sitting there in the middle of row 43. And not because there wasn’t a fire. This mug just can’t make up his mind whether to burn to death or see the rest of the movie.

I already knew I didn’t like the reactionary pseudo-conservative jingo-Jesuoids that worship precedent Bush with the mindless fervor of worker termites. Real conservatives are coming to my side in droves, and because I’m a progressive I don’t turn them away. I lead them into the gymnasium we’ve converted into a dormitory and give them blankets, soup, and a copy of ‘The Economist’ from 1998. Money isn’t everything, they admit. Well, it is, but Bush even threatens money. Some of these authentic conservatives are going to vote for Bush again this time, but they’re doing it for the party, for the sake of continuity and tradition, and when it’s over they will do the decent thing and dash out their brains. Other real conservatives are going to cross the line and vote for Kerry, because they simply cannot bear to vote for Bush again, or they’re broke. Some of them are even voting for Kerry because he reminds them of Eisenhower, if Eisenhower wore a wig and was 6’4″. Meanwhile the undecided voter is still sitting there in row 43. The lights are on, but there’s nobody home.

My theory is there are three kinds of undecided voters. Four, if you include dead people. First, there’s the ‘you can’t make me’ model. This person is angry and resentful and doesn’t get invited to holiday gatherings much. Obstinate, opinionated. Has difficulty admitting mistakes. Consequently will avoid making decisions that represent a reversal of earlier decisions, but which it would be patently wrong to repeat. During my time at Disney Imagineering, I knew a woman who had such a bad case of ‘you can’t make me’ it was impossible to work with her. She would commit to terrible courses of action simply because the evidence suggested doing the opposite. She refused to be pushed around by mere facts; the rest of us were sheep, responding mindlessly to reality. When inevitably her course of action proved disastrous, she defend the outcome like a wildcat defending her kits under the influence of Amyl Nitrate. She was eventually given the boot (the big shiny black boot with a bubble toe familiar to all Mickey Mouse fans). Even then, for almost a month after she was remaindered, she kept showing up for work, in denial that she could have been fired, unwilling to accept anybody else’s decision. It was tragic. We thought it was funny. I suspect a lot of undecided voters are of this stripe: they know Bush is a miserable president, but they can’t stand to admit they were wrong. So they refuse to make a decision.

The second class of undecided voter enjoys the attention. I mean look, nobody’s going to invite me to sit in on one of these debates. I know where I stand, who cares about me? The media loves a good narrative, and to them undecided voters are catnip (or Amyl Nitrate). What could be better than a razor-thin margin between one candidate and the other, the outcome to be decided by a bunch of hand-wringing vacillators? Not that all of them wring their hands. Many of this group of undecided voters are grandstanding like John Phillips Souza, using the press to offer stern, contradictory advice to both candidates. Undecided voters get quoted in the newspapers, polled, invited to debates, analyzed, and exhorted to make various decisions. The more they don’t decide, the more attention they get. My advice is to just ignore them. Maybe they’ll go away. Or better yet, maybe they’ll make a decision, and America can go back to sleep.

The final group of undecided voters, the largest and most blood-curdling demographic, is generally thought of as being in the exact middle, the very equator of public opinion, in this particular contest a kind of living representation of the Mason-Dixon line. This is a false idea, based on a mental picture of a horizontal line: the undecided voter falls precisely between left and right. Tripe. Picture a vertical line, with dolphins at the top, humans in the middle, and zooplankton almost at the bottom. The undecideds are just below that. No offense to Pseudodiaptomus forbesi. What is to be done with these inveterate, if not invertebrate fence-sitters? Take them to a movie, set the place on fire, and don’t shout anything.

BEN TRIPP can be reached at credel@earthlink.net.

His book, ‘Square In The Nuts’, has been held up at the printers by thugs but will be released as soon as hostage negotiations conclude.

See also www.cafeshops.com/tarantulabros.

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail