FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Undecided Voter Examined

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:
September 25, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Fact-Finding Labour’s “Anti-Semitism” Crisis
Charles Pierson
Destroying Yemen as Humanely as Possible
James Rothenberg
Why Not Socialism?
Patrick Cockburn
How Putin Came Out on Top in Syria
John Grant
“Awesome Uncontrollable Male Passion” Meets Its Match
Guy Horton
Burma: Complicity With Evil?
Steve Stallone
Jujitsu Comms
William Blum
Bombing Libya: the Origins of Europe’s Immigration Crisis
John Feffer
There’s a New Crash Coming
Martha Pskowski
“The Emergency Isn’t Over”: the Homeless Commemorate a Year Since the Mexico City Earthquake
Fred Baumgarten
Ten Ways of Looking at Civility
Dean Baker
The Great Financial Crisis: Bernanke and the Bubble
Binoy Kampmark
Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor
September 24, 2018
Jonathan Cook
Hiding in Plain Sight: Why We Cannot See the System Destroying Us
Gary Leupp
All the Good News (Ignored by the Trump-Obsessed Media)
Robert Fisk
I Don’t See How a Palestinian State Can Ever Happen
Barry Brown
Pot as Political Speech
Lara Merling
Puerto Rico’s Colonial Legacy and Its Continuing Economic Troubles
Patrick Cockburn
Iraq’s Prime Ministers Come and Go, But the Stalemate Remains
William Blum
The New Iraq WMD: Russian Interference in US Elections
Julian Vigo
The UK’s Snoopers’ Charter Has Been Dealt a Serious Blow
Joseph Matten
Why Did Global Economic Performance Deteriorate in the 1970s?
Zhivko Illeieff
The Millennial Label: Distinguishing Facts from Fiction
Thomas Hon Wing Polin – Gerry Brown
Xinjiang : The New Great Game
Binoy Kampmark
Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama
Max Wilbert
Blue Angels: the Naked Face of Empire
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will There Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail