In Defense of the Undecided Voter: A Playlist
The talking heads of cable news label us as "out of touch", say that we need to "wake up", or accuse us of being apathetic and lazy. And while I'm quite certain that people like this do exist, not all undecided voters fall into these categories.
In fact, many of we "undecideds" have not made up our mind because we're starved for facts in a nation where it's hard work to uncover them . We want to cast an informed vote. And contrary to what the media would have you believe, an informed vote is not forged in the bowels of Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, or by reading the Drudge Report or The New York Times. It's accomplished by reading opposing policies, searching out real data, and discovering respected experts on a point by point basis. Unbiased news sources do not exist, so news should only be a starting point on a journey to a well-formed opinion.
To a responsible voter, an argument that President Obama desires to turn the United States into a socialist nation should sound like fingernails on a blackboard, annoying to the point of creating an actual physical response.
Likewise, you should be equally disgusted by an accusation that Mitt Romney doesn't care about the poor, the sick, or the old.
The truth is, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are great men. Both of them have achieved more in their lives than most of us could ever dream to accomplish. In addition, both of them are loving fathers and husbands, and both are great role models for our children. There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that they both want what is best for America, they just have different ideas on how to get there.
The problem for the undecided voter is the lack of an objective, productive discussion on policy. We should invest time into digging out the details, and then use logic to help us make the best predictions on the outcome of policy. Instead, we rely on emotional hysteria and hateful claptrap in daily, mega-doses.
To put it in Star Trek speak, we desperately need more Spock and less Bones.
Unfortunately, our free press is no help. Elections are won with soundbites, and the media gorges on them like a starving animal, then regurgitates them. How can we make the right choices when our decisions are driven by blind allegiance, and a media who cares more about eliciting an emotional response than asking questions that get to the root of the policy being discussed?
Let's look at one of the important issues facing our country as an example.
Namely, "How will taxes impact our out of control deficits?"
One side says we need a balanced deficit reduction approach. This means cuts in spending and higher taxes for the wealthiest among us, i.e., a bigger slice of the pie.
The other side says we need lower taxes to grow the economy, thus bringing more money into the treasury, i.e., a bigger pie.
This is a clear difference, but as an undecided voter I want to know which one has the best chance of success. But unfortunately, arguments like this usually devolve into hateful rhetoric -- "Obama wants to punish small business owners!", "Romney is a fat cat looking out for his friends!"
What saddens me is that we allow such weak, emotional arguments to control our discourse about subjects that are so important they can set the path of our civilization.