~ 28 January 2004 ~

Indecision and Pretense

Jonah Goldberg on “undecided” voters:

No, I’m not saying that all undecideds are dumb, and I’m not saying that the choices in presidential elections are as cut-and-dried as the strawberry ice cream versus the garden-rake smack. But what I am saying is that the rush to show one’s independence of mind in contests between Republican and Democratic candidates usually stems from intellectual vanity and insecurity, not intellectual discernment or rigor.

There’s nothing wrong — and there’s actually a great deal that is right — with being independent-minded on the issues, on art, on music, fashion, food…whatever. So long as it isn’t a pose. Conformity based upon sound judgment is certainly more admirable than acting like a jackass to prove you’re different. Our culture mocks those who join the herd, to be sure. We exalt the drummer who marches to his own beat. But the herd laughs its butt off at the maverick who prances around outside the herd right when the wolf pack shows up. And we only admire the solo drummer when he’s very, very good. If all he does is smush around a chicken leg on his drum, we don’t applaud, we call a nurse.

I’ve seen this trend in a lot of people. I remember a teacher in high school who lauded the fact that he was a “split ticket” voter. This attitude shows up a lot within Christian evangelicalism. I’ve known some people who, not wanting to be pigeonholed as “Republican like everybody else,” will have to “seriously evaluate” the other candidates before making up their mind.

I’m not saying that one should simply vote the party line all the time, but when the differences between party lines are as staggering as they are today, why should one have to ponder long the benefits of voting for Al Gore vs. George Bush—especially if one candidate’s views line up much more closely with what one believes?

True, there are some decisions that should be more closely watched, but when the difference is night and day, indecision more closely resembles pretense.

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2 Comments:

  1. Nick » 29 January 2004:

    Actually, it works out that a vast majority of voters tend to vote straight tickets, or straight tickets with exceptions (if only one party is running in an area, or if it’s Republicans versus Greens, or something like that). It tends to get way overreported when you ask people about it because it’s a frowned-upon social behavior: if you asked people how many of them drive drunk, you’ll not find many people willing to cop to that. Similarly, you won’t find many people who will say, “I don’t care what the issues are, I’m voting Republican because that’s what I do.”

  2. Tom » 29 January 2004:

    Also, at the national level, casting a vote for a candidate is a vote for the control of his party in Washington. If a voter generally supports the ideology of one party or another, I am at a loss to understand why he would ever choose to vote for a candidate that would detract from the influence of his party.

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