Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Rest of the Electorate

Barbara left a comment on my Weekend Assignment from Friday morning that gave me pause:

I certainly hope that people chose who to vote for based on issues and not the email/tv garbage that goes on. I find it offensive that anyone would think if you don't vote for Obamba it was for the reasons you mentioned.
She has a point. It's easy to forget that the "low information voters" who believe Barack Obama is a Muslim, and Socialist, a terrorist and all-around scary guy represent a small percentage (I hope!) of John McCain's supporters. Even so, the people who believe these things are out there, and they're very real. I replied to Barbara in comments,

Oh, I agree. I'm sure there are people who are voting for McCain because they agree with his foreign policy, and maybe even on the economy. Unfortunately, I get smear emails every day from a friend who uncritically forwards every anti-Obama email, however irrational or disingenuous, including one that makes false claims about the Bible to convince people Obama is the Anti-Christ. I see footage of Palin supporters calling Obama all those names I mentioned, and heard robocalls making all sorts of horrific claims.

Fortunately, like you, I believe that most Republicans reject the hysterical and false claims. But the people who believe this garbage are out there, and I worry about what they might do, aside from carving a B in their own faces.

(Links added.)

Well, it's true. I do worry about the people who believe the garbage. I worry that the two young neo-Nazis who were recently arrested for an ill-conceived plot to kill Obama and 102 other people aren't the only members of the lunatic fringe who will be gunning for the new President and his supporters if Obama is elected.

But enough about them. Fueled by all the news items and those emails F. -- a perfectly nice former co-worker of mine, who supports cancer awareness and humane treatment of animals -- continues to send me, I tend to focus too much on the low information voters and bigots. What about everyone else? What about the positive, rational reasons for voting for McCain or Obama?

I don't know for sure, and to be honest it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. But I imagine it's perfectly possible to vote for John McCain for reasons that aren't based on lies or innuendo. You may believe that the war in Iraq is being won, and will be won if John McCain is allowed to manage it. You may believe that he has a plan for capturing or killing Osama bin Laden, which he's not disclosing for security reasons. You may feel that McCain's approach to foreign policy is better than Barack Obama's, by dint of greater experience and toughness. You may believe that we need a saber rattler in the White House, not someone who prefers diplomacy and direct talks, who, to paraphrase McCain's hero Teddy Roosevelt, speaks softly and carries a big stick. Maybe you don't believe that Obama even carries a stick.

Similarly, you may know perfectly well what the factual differences are between John McCain's economic policies and Barack Obama's, and still prefer McCain's. Despite evidence to the contrary, you may believe that the economy needs to be rescued from the top down rather than from the bottom up, with people who earn over $250,000 a year getting the bulk of the tax breaks rather than being made to pay what they were paying the day George W. Bush took office.

But here is what I believe, based on extensive reading, and listening to quite a few talking heads from both sides of the aisle. John McCain has wrong-headed ideas on both foreign policy and the economy that are extremely similar to the ones that got us into the predicament we're in now. He has not offered one new idea with a reasonable chance of doing any good, and several that are likely to cause further harm. He has chosen a running mate who believes that dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time as man, who condones witch-hunting, who uses Alaska resources for her personal ends, who lies to the public frequently and without shame, whose husband belonged to a secessionist party for years, and who apparently cannot string two coherent sentences together without a TelePrompter. If that's not sufficient evidence of McCain's poor judgment in selecting her, add in his frequent lies about his opponent's policies, personal attacks based on tenuous relationships, baseless innuendo about socialism and other-ness, and massive hypocrisy in constantly accusing Obama and company of doing the same things he and his campaign do to a far greater degree. This is a man I've voted for for Senator, because I used to believe that even if his ideas were mostly wrong, at least he was a man of integrity. I was mistaken.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, has a keen intelligence, an outstanding education, a steady temperament, a willingness to listen to Republicans and well as Democrats, compassion, fair-mindedness, charisma, eloquence and, most of all, policies and plans that will help the country and the world. With all due respect to Hillary Clinton, there is only one candidate this year, of any race or gender, with such a potent combination of assets. And a week from now, barring a major disaster or even more massive election-tampering than we've seen so far, he'll be the President-Elect.

But if you want to vote for John McCain for rational reasons, based on his policies, his history and his character, you go ahead and do that. That's how democracy is supposed to work.



barrettmanor said...

Anyone who gives their vote thoughtful consideration is okay in my book, even if they don't vote the same way I do.

The hate and fear mongerers on both sides are drowning out the rational voices. It happens every election cycle. I'm less stunned at the vicious attacks than I am at the people who blindly believe them. It's so easy to check the veracity of these e-mails and ads that there's little excuse to not be informed if you take just a few minutes out of every day to follow up on what you see on TV or hear in gossip.

Sorry, Karen, I'm preaching to the choir.

Bea said...

Well written... can I quote you??? Just kidding, but you make a lot of sense here. I posted an Obama poster on my door at school, but you might have guessed that I had to add a McCain mention as well, to be fair. So I did, though it was much smaller in size. I like your Obama buttons. I wear one every day at school. I don't tell anyone who to vote for, but they know who I'm voting for! There's only one great speaker out there campaigning, one man who inspires us, and one man who looks and acts like a leader. President Obama.