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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castille’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
Binoy Kampmark
Death on the Road: Memory in Tim Winton’s Shrine
Tony McKenna
The Oily Politics of Unity: Owen Smith as Northern Ireland Shadow Secretary
Nizar Visram
If North Korea Didn’t Exist US Would Create It
John Carroll Md
At St. Catherine’s Hospital, Cite Soleil, Haiti
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Singaporean Conjucture
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Trump: the Birth of the Hero
Jill Richardson
Trump on Cuba: If Obama Did It, It’s Bad
Olivia Alperstein
Our President’s Word Wars
REZA FIYOUZAT
Useless Idiots or Useful Collaborators?
Clark T. Scott
Parallel in Significance
Louis Proyect
Hitler and the Lone Wolf Assassin
Julian Vigo
Theresa May Can’t Win for Losing
Richard Klin
Prog Rock: Pomp and Circumstance
Charles R. Larson
Review: Malin Persson Giolito’s “Quicksand”
David Yearsley
RIP: Pomp and Circumstance
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail