An Open Letter to an Undecided Voter

I keep reading that there are fewer undecided voters now than at this same point in past presidential elections. Yet there are some.

It may be that there are some people calling themselves undecided who really, deep down, know who they want to vote for but just don’t want to say it out loud for some reason. And I appreciate that.

But some appear to be genuinely undecided. And these are the people who get rounded up by Frank Luntz and his ilk every four years and interviewed after debates. And I wish it would stop, because I honestly think some of these people remain undecided because they think it makes them special.

And every four years, these remarkable specimens say they are undecided because they don’t know how the candidates stand on issues, even after months of news coverage about how the candidates stand on issues. For example, NPR interviewed some undecideds after the debate from hell Tuesday night.

Zoey Shisler, of Tacoma, Wash., told NPR she was hoping to hear more about how the candidates would address the economy.

“All Biden had to do was convince me that he has policies that are gonna replace Trump when he gets in office, and he hasn’t convinced me of that,” she said.

Dear Undecided Voter:

Listen up. There’s this thing called the “internet.” If you can use it, go to the “issues” page on Joe Biden’s website. You have to get around a lot of obnoxious pop-ups asking for donations, but it’s do-able. Here is a link:

Joe Biden’s Stand on the Issues

This leads you to a page with more links to details on Joe Biden’s policy positions. You can … well, I can, anyway … read everything there in a lot less time than it took to sit through that damn debate.

On top of that, Biden has been running for president for several months. There have been interviews and articles in news media for months about his policy positions. The Democrats have a whole 91-page booklet called the “2020 Democratic Party Platform” available on the Web that spells out the policies Biden has agreed to support.

Granted, candidates don’t always stick to the platform after they are elected, but that’s true of everything else they say in the campaigns. This will at least give you an idea of the general direction he’ll probably wander off in.

Debates historically are piss-poor places to learn about candidates and their positions on issues. Even during a “normal” debate, the candidates are rarely allowed to say anything in detail and the moderators usually ask inane questions. The debates are mostly about watching to see if somebody says something stupid that will cost him votes, like when Gerald Ford inexplicably forgot that Poland was behind the Iron Curtain. That was classic. Seriously, the only information sources worse than debates are television ads and social media.

But if you sincerely want to know what candidates’ policy positions are, you have to be willing to make an effort to pay attention to the news and be willing to read stuff, like newspapers, because the teevee news rarely covers issues in depth. But at this point, given all the coverage, there is absolutely no excuse for having no idea whatsoever about Biden’s positions. I can appreciate that you might not know fine details, like Biden’s exact proposed numbers for marginal tax rates, off the top of your head. But you ought to know by now, for example, that Biden intends to repeal most if not all of Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy that have created massive budget deficits.

You do know that Trump created massive budget deficits, right? It’s been in the news.

Further, Donald Trump has been the bleeping president for going on four years now, and he and his shenanigans have been in the bleeping news several times a day every day for all this time. And Joe Biden was a bleeping senator for thirty-something years, beginning in 1973, and then was the bleeping vice president of the United States for eight years, and he was in the news at least once a month, if not once a week, all that time.

Yes, Biden has changed his positions on some things over the years, and Trump appears to change many of his positions several times a day. But by now you at least should have a pretty good sense of who these guys are, whether they are bright or stupid, mostly honest or not, are psychologically normal or belong under a bell jar in the psychopath museum, etc.

And they are the choices. Who’s it going to be? And how can you possibly live in this country awash with media all screaming at you about the candidates and be so unaware of what’s been going on? Where do you keep your head? Somewhere behind that box of old toys in the basement?

Being undecided doesn’t make you smart or special. It makes you pathetic. And I wish the Frank Luntz’s would stop interviewing undecided voters. Interviews and focus groups of undecided voters are interesting in a freak-show sort of way — as in wow, look at that two-headed snake! or wow, how can these people be so clueless! — but they are a waste of my time, frankly, and most voters’ time.

So get over yourselves, pay attention, make an effort, and either come to a decision or not. It’s up to you.

Newsweek https://www.newsweek.com/2020/09/04/undecided-voters-were-key-trumps-win-2016-will-they-deliver-again-1526824.html

19 thoughts on “An Open Letter to an Undecided Voter

  1. I AM an undecided voter!

    I have yet to decide whether to vote for Joe Biden or be an active participant in the suicide of our country and our planet.

     

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  2. It's a nice screed, but it ignores the fact that most voters are not politics junkies. I would guess that most of the "decided" voters don't know any more about Biden's economic policies than the hapless specimens addressed above.

    I would guess you're onto something when speculating that someone publicly saying they're undecided at this point in the race is looking for attention – or, perhaps, trying to avoid attention from conflicting friends and associates who have decided in opposite directions. 

    Another reaction I have to an undecided person, like the one quoted, saying she hasn't heard Biden explain his economic policies yet, is that she may have formed the habit of judging candidates entirely on how they verbalize, on video, their policies for public understanding. In other words, she doesn't care what his policies are, she wants to hear him explain them to her in language she can understand, person to person, face to face (so to speak – via video, of course).

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    • There's a huge middle ground between being a "politics junkie" and having no clue whatsoever what's going on. And democratic government cannot function if citizens are ignorant of what's going on. I realized that people with jobs and children to raise have limited time and energy for following the news. Still, citizens have a responsibility to be informed as much as possible, and if they have access to the internet it isn't that hard or that time consuming to find out what a candidate for office plans to do. Indeed, it takes less time to check out a candidate's web page that to sit through a debate. And it's a hell of a lot easier to check out a candidate's web page than to have been at Valley Forge or Iwo Jima. So I have no sympathy for these people.

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      • "And democratic government cannot function if citizens are ignorant "  – they simply don't care. It's a waste of effort to try and school these people.

        They're the ones who have to learn the hard way that stupidity has a price.

        To wit: I have a black friend who voted for Trump, because he thought change would be good. Since 2016 his political acumen has advanced from, maybe 5 years old, to perhaps 5 1/2.  It's just how it is.

      • I must concur.  Responsible voting requires some work and good judgement as to what is fact, fiction, or opinion of a solid reputable source.  To be a ditto head is just too lazy and totally irresponsible.  It is the opposite of being a good citizen or a patriot.  Flag waving and blind allegiance is not a substitute for an honest effort to understand what are the problems we all face and what are good reasonable solutions.  

  3. Putting on undecided voters to have moderators plumb the depths of their ignorance and stupidity is the kind of train wreck entertainment that works so well when it comes to cheap ratings.  Its a great accompaniment to the lacking in seriousness horse race approach to election coverage.   Sure, their obliviousness could be chalked up to just not having the time to pay any serious attention to any news in the last four years until now.  But that's the very reason these people are not in any position to do anything but entertain.  That's why they're on. 

    Its bad enough most eligible voters typically don't even bother to vote.  Worse still when too many of those who do have the minds of cartoon characters.

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  4. I was once a semi-sorta-proud undecided voter. It wasn't that I was, or wasn't, a "political junkie"; it was that I simply didn't have any basis for understanding various issues.

    If I hadn't seen the horrifying bullying and lying of the Republicans during the Clinton years (and there's *nothing* I hate more than a bully!), I like to think Molly Ivins might have gotten me, when she wrote about Katrina.

    Paraphrased, she said "when people say 'I don't pay attention to politics', this is what they mean. Politics decided how the levees would be built and maintained; politics determined who would be in charge of disaster response; politics decided who, if anyone, would be held accountable. This disaster is *precisely* why everyone should pay (some) attention to politics."

    Thing is, I do recognize it can be *hard*. There's a maxim in (note small-d) democratic politics: if you're explaining, you're losing. And it's true; if you need more than a quick soundbite ("Vote Biden! He cares about people not dying from Covid-19!") you're in trouble. There are complicated issues, and sometimes, the "wrong" people have some good ideas – cap and trade was a wild success, though I'm having a hard time remembering anything since then. (I'm sure there were others – just, hey, 210+thousand dead induces a kind of moral-amnesia.)

    Anyway, I'm frustrated by undecideds, too, and more so this year (where Trump should frequently be taunted with "Vote Biden; it might as well be unanimous!"), but I do understand, *especially* in younger folks (I'm in my 50s, so that's a lot of voters!), no matter how much I hate it. That said: bless you and thank you for providing some pointers to information to anyone who is undecided because they want to learn more. There's a 25-year-old like me, who just happened across this link, who is horrified by Trump and inspired by Biden.

  5. Almost 50 years ago, I took a college class called "American Political Thought." It was taught by a black Baptist minister with a degrees in Theology and Poly Sci. He was liberal with a conservative religious twist and an almost Jesuit love for engaging discussion. We were required to read a book every week, starting with Plato's "The Republic." And the first building block of American Political Thought was the idea that there is a difference between fact and opinion, or as Plato said, knowledge and opinion. The great unraveling in America began there with great deceivers like Limbaugh and Beck financed by ultra-conservatives to build an army of fools incapable of distinguishing between truth and their passionate beliefs – useful idiots who would deny fact and reality in support of corrupt ideology with violence if called onThis developed over a period of 25 years, building the GOP voter of today. We have almost 40% of the population disconnected from reality and no easy way to tether them to, as Plato said, knowledge. I think it will take 35 years to get out of this mess if we begin now, with education that stresses critical thinking, not liberal philosophy, from the earliest years in school. Kids need to grow up with a chance to recognize Dad was a crackpot, unable to function rationally in a decision-making process. There is such a thing as conservative thinking that's not racist or irrational that I disagree with in its conclusions but respect in the framework of civilized discussion. It exists among independent voters but they've been driven from the GOP. I want to bring back civil discourse, debate, that's based on respect and the bedrock of truth and fact – a philosophy which can be traced back to the discussions of Aristotle and Plato, which the founding fathers were shaped by to create the first incredibly flawed democracy.

     

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    • When I was trying to sort out this whole right wing thing a decade or two ago, I was struck by how wingnuts conflated fact with opinion. It was one of those things I only dimly perceived and could not articulate at the time, but by now, it's strikingly clear. 

      Get people confused about facts and opinion, and the door opens into the public's mind to dump any kind of garbage you want.

      Get someone like Trump who is skilled at building emotional bonds to these people, and their minds are sealed. They will follow Trump over the cliff if he tells them to. Bandy Lee taught me about this emotional bonding and how this finishes the job.

    • doug has a good point: We have among us "an army of fools incapable of distinguishing between truth and their passionate beliefs "…and facts and opinion.  The latter has been helped along by the "both-siderism" of our famous 'liberal press.'   (The most striking example I remember, many (>30) years ago, where some  Republican congressman, stone drunk, had driven his car into the Reflecting Pool near the monument in Washington, DC. The WaPost felt obliged to mention, in the last paragraph on this (considerable) feat, that Mr. xxx, a Democratic congressman, had received a  DUI ticket in the same area, _17_ years earlier!).    This has, of course, the effect of voter fatigue.

      Another facet of this is the 'Opinions on the shape of the earth differ' reporting often seen in the NYT and NPR: One party says, earth is flat, on the front page,   opposing party, on p A23 bottom, one column next to a almost full-page ad,  claims it is 'ball-shaped.'

      And finally, the media are totally incapable of reporting numerical data in any understandable fashion.  A  million – billion – trillion, all the same big numbers, often confounded  by qualifiers, such as 'over 10 years' or 'compared with (whose?) projections.'   That confusion allows dishonest politicians to claim success ('saved taxpayers a x millions'), and scare people of deficits (only if a Democrat is in the  White House).

      So the (presumed 'liberal') media share part of the blame for confused and undecided voters.

       

       

       

  6. Dear (Dog, how f'in' stupid/lazy can you eeeedjitz be,) "undecideds?!?!?!?"

    So, you STILL don't know who to vote for because you don't know the candidate's stances on issues! 

    Do you know how to read?  Then buy a feckin' newspaper you eeeeedjitz!  Buy a f'in news magazine! 

    Can't afford those?  GOOD NEWS, you feckin' eeeeedjitz!!!!  There are places called PUBLIC LIBRARIES!  THEY'LL have your local newspaper(s) – and also national papers and magazines.  They have books, too, eeeedjitz!  Books are for more than just keeping your kitchen table stable!

    Ya got electricity?  Can you move?  Can you use your fingers?  Do your hands work?  Know what a remote control is?  Ya got a radio?*  A TV?**  A computer?*** ANY, OR ALL OF THOSE can also give you the information you claim you need to become an un-undecided!  All ya gotta do is get up off your fat asses, and do a teeny-tiny amount of work.

    Unless you live in a shack next door to where the Unibomber lived, or on a island near Gilligan's, then you can easily find the information you need.

    Are you sure you know how to read?

    That last question was a test.  😉

    *Beware of Reich-wing radio stations.  But DO check out NPR – at one time, it truly was very good.  Now?  Not so much, but better than the Fascist yappers on both the AM and FM dials.

    **NO FUX "news!"  Check out the network news, MSNBC, CNN, or one of the C-sectio… C-SPANS.

    ***CAUTION!!!!!  There may be trolls!  Be careful of the websites you surf to.  And verify any info your Facebook followers send to you.

    This has been a Public Service Announcement from me, c u n d gulag.  Vote, and vote for Democrats!  Vote for Democrats, because unlike Republicans, we don't already have gulags (AKA:  Concentration Camps) already built for people presiDUNCE tRUMP doesn't like!

     

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  7. Looks like we just got Trump's October surprise. I hope he ends up on a ventilator clinging to life from the Democrat's hoax that is just going to miraculously disappear.

    It seems like just yesterday Trump did a standup comedy routine mocking Biden for wearing a face mask. He got a lot of chuckles from his audience. I guess he'll have to revise his material now.

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      • This is obviously all a part of a George Soros funded deep-state plot led by Nancy Pelosi and Hope Hicks to murder President Trump and keep our dear leader from exposing the Hillary Clinton pedophilia ring.

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  8. Wake up to this yet,  Our mask-less leader caught the COVID probably from that Hope Hicks.  Another strange chapter in Modern Syphilization.  

    • It's not that important, in the large scheme of things, but I've seen it said that she is as likely as not to have caught it from him or from the same source. Also, even if she did expose him, I'd have a hard time attaching blame to her, *even if* she was careless and clueless; the fish rots from the head, and any *sane* boss would have demanded careful adherence to good public health guidelines, rather than with Trump, who pushes the opposite.

  9. I have considered the possibility that Trump lied about having the virus so he could isolate himself in the residence, sit up in his bed, suck his thumbs and use his toes to use the computer.  This way, he wouldn't have to  participate in any more debates.  However, since he cannot survive without getting his ego stroked constantly, I am not so sure.  He wants rallies and even if someone suggested this action, we all know he doesn't listen to anyone.  After all, he has described himself as a very stable genius.  If he truly does have the virus, it may put the fear of God in him but he won't die, he's too mean.  He's not good enough to get into heaven and the devil doesn't want him, he would just be competition.  Whatever the truth is and as hard as it is for me not to have evil thoughts about him, I really just want him to go away.  At this point, just seeing his face makes me want to throw up.  If he has to exit the White House, they will have to fumigate the entire place. 

    Looking at history, we have seen nations rise and fall and it may be that the USA is in decline.  Even our planet cannot go on forever.  Science tells us that the earth will either burn up or freeze in time.  Of course, that's a long way off.  Guess it gives us time to find another rock to contaminate.

  10. It would be my luck to be the next customer in line behind one of these undecided fools at Baskin Robbins.

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