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I don't get undecideds

danamongden writes the other day about the election and says this:

I have not yet decided who I am voting for in the general election. I'm not even sure yet who I'm leaning towards as I have reasonably positive feelings towards both candidates.

I do not understand what there is to be undecided about.  If you are undecided, I would appreciate hearing why.  I am thoroughly baffled by your position.

Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
danamongden
Sep. 17th, 2008 04:21 pm (UTC)
Quite simply I have no solid party loyalties. I don't automatically vote for or against one party. As such, I am evaluating the candidates positions on the issues. On some of those issues, I prefer Obama. On others, I prefer McCain. I am still thinking about how to balance those pros and cons for the one I am happiest with.

I reject the hype that McCain is pure evil as well as the hype that Obama is an empty suit.

So, it's not that I'm undecided because I'm all willy-nilly and don't understand what's at stake. I'm undecided because I'm giving it a lot of thought, and I'm not finished yet.

I'm curious, does it baffle you more that someone could be undecided or that someone could make a rational choice to support the other candidate?
fulguritus
Sep. 17th, 2008 04:30 pm (UTC)
It baffles me only because of the terrible job the Repubs have done the last 8 years.
danamongden
Sep. 17th, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)
I'm not happy with it either. I'm also not happy with what the Dems have done in the last two years.

But I'm not voting for The Republicans or The Democrats. It's a choice between individual candidates. I'm not choosing between Pelosi or Cheney. I'm choosing between McCain and Obama, and I don't see anything wrong with taking my time in that decision.

fulguritus
Sep. 17th, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC)
Oh I don't either. Take your time, of course.

I just was curious about what your take was on the job the Repubs have done.
vstraylight
Sep. 17th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
What are you unhappy with the Democrats about? I was unhappy with the Democrats, and then I started learning about the process in Congress. Democrats have a true majority in the House, but not the Senate. They do not have the votes to override vetoes or end filibusters. The Republicans have set a new record for quantity of filibusters in a two year period. Do a Google search on "republican filibuster record" and read some articles. McCain has participated in these filibusters. The Democrats are not a party of strict discipline like the Republicans, and often lose votes from their own party. The Republicans are a machine, and the Democrats are a caucus.

The 2006 election did not put enough Democrats in Congress to force the Executive branch to change direction on most issues. The number of investigations coming out of the Democratic Congress is astounding. However, they do not have the support of their Republican counterparts unlike the bi-partisan efforts during Watergate, or even the Clinton impeachment process.

Their only real alternative is to shut down the government, and the Democratic Party just isn't ideologically pure enough to do that. Personally, I think that is a good thing. Ideological purity is the single biggest problem I have with the Republican Party. In fact, there are powerful political blogs with strong efforts to create a more ideologically pure Democratic party in response to the behavior of the Republican Party.

While I appreciate that this is a contest of individuals, those individuals would not be in this contest without the support of the political parties that they represent. I consider Congressional leadership in my decision as they represent one third of the federal government, and they are one of two branches that we have any say so whatsoever in who gets to run it. We have little to no say so in the federal judiciary except via the President and Congress. These two branches create and pass all federal laws, and how the President works with the Congressional leadership greatly determines the quality of the laws. In my opinion these are important considerations.
danamongden
Sep. 17th, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC)
Sorry, but there are reasons why I generally don't get into these discussions, and to answer this question would violate those reasons.

Let me just leave it at your original question about being undecided. I have my own priorities, which are varied enough that they will not be a match with anyone else, let alone any particular candidate. I am trying to decide how to balance my priorities to select a candidate.

vstraylight
Sep. 17th, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
Fair enough.

May I ask what your reasons for not discussing the system by which all laws that govern us are created?

Personally, I believe that we are suffering as a population because citizens will not participate in discussion and debate about the issues. I would like to understand the reasons people choose to not engage in the discussion so that I at least know what people feel needs to change in order for these discussions to exist. I'm tired of being told by various media sources what my fellow citizens think and/or believe. I'd rather hear from them, and I have no objection to setting ground rules for how that conversation should be conducted.
danamongden
Sep. 17th, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
It's not that I am completely unwilling to discuss it. Rather, I am very selective about who I will engage in such a discussion and in what forums. It is not that I require the person to agree with me. It is that I want to see a degree of civility and respect for otherness that I frequently find all too lacking. oriori1's quick-draw vitriol is typical for what I have run into in previous attempts at discussion. Some people thrive on that kind of discussion. I do not. In fact, I find that it significantly lowers my enjoyment of life, and especially these days, I find I have far more important things to do than engage in that level of discourse.

Furthermore, I frequently find that the civil discussions are rarely productive. Allow me a digression into the realm of food as it will keep the matter uncluttered by the politics of today.

Bill and Charlie are arguing over what kind of salad to prepare for the company picnic. Bill wants a crunchy salad. Charlie wants a leafy salad. They are both entrenched in their positions, and the discussion goes nowhere fast. After all, crunchy salads are only for Neanderthals, and only the elitist snobs like leafy salads. Charlie feels he'll get his way because a lot of people asked for leafy salads at the last picnic, but Bill threatens to halt it with a filibuster. Witness Congress. Most political discussions I've had with people have rarely progressed beyond this point. As soon as they found out I like a crunchy salad, they went on the attack.

Occasionally, I've had a discussion that progressed to asking, "Why do you prefer a crunch salad?" In Bill's case, it's because he needs the roughage. It turns out that Charlie wants the leafy salad because it has key vitamins that he needs. Even if gets this far, the discussion can then go south. "You don't really need the roughage - just take a fiber pill," vs. "Haven't you ever heard of vitamin pills?" In other words, once understanding the other person's reasons, they all too often try to discount those reasons. Again, this is not a worthwhile discussion.

Now, rarely things will reach the point of understanding and compromise. "Yes, I understand your reasons, and I can see that they are valid for you." Perhaps they can reach a decision to have both salads available or to find a leafy salad with a bit more crunch. These are rewarding. These can be eye opening. In the realm of real politics, I've had this happen two or three times in my entire life. Searching for another is low on my list of things to do.

Of course, it's rarely black and white. For example, McCain is in favor of crunchy salads and asparagus, while Obama promotes leafy salads and broccoli. I love crunchy salads and broccoli and passionately despise leafy salads and asparagus. How am I to choose? Which is more important to me, that I get my crunchy salad or my broccoli? That is the quandary of the undecided. It's not that I don't know the positions or haven't studied the issues. It's a matter of balancing which issues are the most important to me. People often view politics as right vs. left, while my motto is that politics is a 37-dimension vector space. I haven't found a candidate who agrees with me on everything, and when the relative levels of agreement are close, I have to decide what I'm willing to sacrifice.

Now, discussions surrounding which is more important, i.e. the salad or the vegetable, those can be quite interesting. And yet, they open up a whole new avenue for vitriol because you're no longer talking about positions on the appropriate tax rates or court appointments, but about very personal values. And frankly, I've already dealt with too many people being dicks to me because of a difference in priorities. So I'm very selective about who I will engage in such discussions as well as where I will do them. I might be willing to have that discussion with you, but not in a forum such as this.
vstraylight
Sep. 17th, 2008 10:04 pm (UTC)
I totally understand. Thanks.
oriori1
Sep. 17th, 2008 10:56 pm (UTC)
i sincerely apologize to both of you, danamongden & vstraylight, for my rude comments earlier. i realize that these comments prevented an open discussion and i am an idiot for having caused that. i stand corrected that being undecided is indeed a valid position.

thank you for your explanation, danamongden. you are right, politics can get people riled up and i let that side of me foolishly do the writing instead of letting the other side of me do the listening.
birdalicious
Sep. 23rd, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)
I hope you don't mind if I use this lovely analogy in my Critical Thinking class. :-)
vstraylight
Sep. 17th, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC)
Also, I hope you don't feel that I'm picking on you. I'm not. I would like to see a broader discussion happen and I'm trying to figure out how to make it happen. The only place I can see to start is with the people I know that don't already agree with me.
edgeofthewoods
Sep. 17th, 2008 04:36 pm (UTC)
I have no solid party loyalties.

I find the US fascinating in that people will actually play to the party rather than to the candidate. Like it's some sort of sports team that you pledge your loyalty towards... You don't really find that in Canada too often - people vote based on the stance of the individual whose name they'll be checking off at the voting booth.

I don't know anyone in these parts that actually votes for the party rather then the candidate. That said, I'm sure there are some fucktards out there that *do* do that, but I personally don't know of any...
vstraylight
Sep. 17th, 2008 04:57 pm (UTC)
I don't have party loyalties. I have voted in the past for Dem, GOP, Ind, and Libertarian on the same ticket. I do not like straight ticket voting, and feel is should not be an option. I actually dislike both parties even if I prefer the Democrats over the Republicans.

I, too, do not view McCain as evil. I support Obama, so obviously he isn't an empty suit to me. I also, would have voted for Hillary in the general even though I supported Obama in the primaries.

I think I am more baffled by the undecided position than the opposing position at the moment. Hence why I'm asking the undecideds that see this for a dialog. My question is honest, and not intended to suggest that it is an inferior position. I honestly don't understand what there is left to be undecided about.

What is appealing to you about each candidate?

What makes you hesitate about each candidate?

What do you want from your next President? Senator? Congressperson?

Are there issues that are more important to you than the ones being discussed by the candidates?

What sources of information are you uncovering as you make your decision?

Frankly, political discussions with people who have made up their minds on either side is completely uninteresting to me anymore. It is a pointless conversation that is constantly played out over and over again in so many venues. There is now an echo chamber where the two sides come together to "debate". It's all the same thing said a thousand times over. So, my other goal by asking this question is to inject some useful and interesting discourse into my personal political conversations by engaging the only political group whose position I don't already understand.
oriori1
Sep. 17th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
let's read "undecided" as "I'm too chicken shit to express my opinion," or as "I'm so fucking lazy, I haven't been paying attention or reading anything for the last 20 years so I have no clue as to what's going on," or as "I'm voting for Palin cuz she's hot but I'm too embarassed to admit it."

undecided = bullshit.
vstraylight
Sep. 17th, 2008 04:59 pm (UTC)
I disagree. It's not a bullshit position. I fully reject those comments. Please engage in a higher level of discourse instead of reinforcing ideas from a broken political dialog.

what i don't understand != bullshit
oriori1
Sep. 17th, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC)
reject away, but those are valid human responses. i offer my apologies for misusing the LJ medium as a place to be snarky. online comments are too easy to confuse.

please know that i *am* being serious. i want to know how someone does not have enough information to make a decision. the information is readily available. see, there's this handy thing called the Internet and it has links to speeches and voting records, and which economic consultant the candidate is talking to, etc. etc.

(gee, i guess i can't stop the smartass in me from coming out.)

what is left to decide upon? the dog & pony show known as a convention? someone's performance on The View? OK, maybe there are a few policy positions not yet announced, but a large number of positions *have* been announced and commented upon ad nauseam.

you said it yourself, "I do not understand what there is to be undecided about."

i too am interested to hear why someone is still undecided. what is it that they want to know and can't find? you're right, there may be valid reasons why someone is undecided. But my bet is that those reasons are bullshit.

have i jumped the gun? let the undecided prove themselves...
vstraylight
Sep. 17th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)
I cannot know the thoughts of another person. It does not benefit me to make the assumption that what is in their head is bullshit.

We still haven't had a debate between the candidates. There's a good reason to be undecided.

As was stated by danamongden above, it is still possible, for him at least, to give each side the benefit of the doubt.

It is possible to want more detail about policy, and have policy questions.

It is reasonable to have a lack of trust in available information sources.

It is reasonable to have more information to digest than you have had time. Congressional records are not simple to navigate or digest.

However, I want a conversation, and you calling the position of the people I want to have a conversation with bullshit doesn't help. Please do it in another forum as this is my house.
oriori1
Sep. 17th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC)
i suppose i am being rather harsh. just because someone hasn't done their reading by now doesn't mean they're not going to do it by election day. i am assuming that everyone should be all caught up, and that assumption, i admit, is completly unfair. for that i also apologize.
nobodobodon
Sep. 17th, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC)
I read a two-paragraph summary of a research study (done in Italy, I believe) that suggests that people who claim to be undecided actually have made up their minds and just haven't really admitted it to themselves yet. I forget the exact details, but it involved measuring their reactions to photos of the candidates and comparing that to how they voted - somewhere inside them, they had already decided, but they just weren't admitting it.

I obviously haven't read the full study to be able to critique how well it was run.

I don't think they used the words "chicken shit" in the study, but like I said, it was just a very short summary.

I've read something similar about male bisexuality. (Again, no mention of chicken shit in that one, either.)
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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