Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Who Are The Undecided Among Us?


A fascinating (or at least I thought so) post in today's NY Times directly adressess the issue of exactly who are the tiny fraction of voters who remain uindecided with 3 months to go in this interminable and increasingly dull presidential campaign. I've had trouble wrapping my head around the idea of how anyone at this point could have trouble making a decision between the two presidential candidates, flawed as they are. It turns out that most of them don't pay a lot of attention to politics in general. No surprise there. What is surprising is that they are mostly affiliated voters, that is to say, not true independents. The Democrats among them, who tilt rightward compared to most Dems, are not happy with Obama, and the Republicans, who are moderate, do not like or trust Romney for exactly the sort of reasons might might expect; they don't think he stands for anything except his own ambition.

When I think about how it is I have reached my own weltanschauung (and this conversation, to your credit, has made me think about this issue a great deal). I have come to understand that my views are not the product of relentless rigorous thinking and self examination, but mostly a result of the circumstances of my birth, upbringing, and extremely privileged life. I think, and act, and vote (as most people do), with my social, intellectual, and ethnic class. I chose my career in part because I was pretty sure that it would provide both intellectual and emotional satisfaction (as it has), and because I could make a good living (there's that incentive business you talk about). In turn I chose academics over private practice because I found it more intellectually rewarding (a different, non monetary incentive). And I have been perfectly, perhaps hypocritically, content to make a handsome living doing what I like, secure in the knowledge that my salary, while still a fraction of my colleagues earnings in private practice, was as substantial as it is because of the ridiculous sums they were raking in during what will surely be remembered as America's golden economic medical age     

And I vote Democratic, even when I find the occasional alternative attractive, because I find  the usual alternative unimaginable.  

So I suppose I should give this tiny sliver of the electorate that is going to decide the general direction of the nation for the next 4 years, a bit of credit. They are are freer than I am. Perhaps their skepticism that their choice will make any difference is well placed.

But are they connected to the rest of us?


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