Friday, March 02, 2007

Vote your mind

I've got a lot of other stuff to do right now, like reconnect the dishwasher and finish tiling the kitchen floor. But I hate plumbing, and love blogging, so I'm doing some constructive avoidance. I feel like mixing a few metaphors, buckling up my sleeves, and changing the world.

I'm avoiding this construction because there's something irking me. I keep seeing people on both left and right who are willing to settle on a candidate for President based on who they think can win. I don't mean political pros, people who are looking to hitch a ride on a candidate and land a cushy Undersecretary gig after the election. I mean I'm getting irked at my fellow Americans for letting polling numbers decide their votes.

As the presidential race heats up, we will be hammered with polls comparing the popularity of various candidates, the pollster's fondest hope being a scissor-paper-rock result in which no one candidate is clear favorite. Some of these polls ask questions about stances on issues, but mostly they're of the "If the election were held today, would you prefer candidate X or candidate Y?"

The election will not be held today. It will not be held tomorrow. There is over a year and a half between the time of this writing and the election, and almost a year before the first primary. In this era of the headline news cycle, that is an eternity. It is even enough time for a relatively unknown candidate with the right message and character to gain a following, build a team, and emerge as front runner and presumptive nominee -- of either party. It's enough time for dozens of scandals, and yes, it's enough time to raise the money it will cost to win the Prize. Not likely, perhaps, but as I said, a year is a long time, especially as people turn to the Internet for news.

Declaring allegiance to a candidate because you think he can win is like marrying a girl because everyone says she's pretty. Deciding to vote for a candidate who is "electable" this far out is like marrying the girl without even sneaking a peak. What happened to the slow grind of the primary season? What happened to the subtle dance we used to call "courting", in which the girl slowly revealed her opinions, attitudes, and gave us reason beyond her requisite outwardly charms to declare her ours?

We are prone to following the herd, and to be on the winning team, convinced that name recognition and not losing is more important than making good and sure that this is the candidate we choose.

Good things happen when you exercise your right not to follow the herd. Just as it does for a third party, aligning yourself with the candidate of your true conviction gives that candidate a boost for the future, and gives others reason to note his ideas. Voting bestows your tiny portion of the mandate. Take great care lest that mandate be misinterpreted, because your vote will be heard as total approval for whomever it is cast.

I know that the professional pol will tell me I'm hopelessly naive, and will show demographics and electoral breakdowns that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that if the election were held today, this or that candidate would beat that or this one. They would prove that the Baby Boomers fleeing to the Sun Belt will tip the balance, and I'd better get on the bandwagon now or the other side will elect a monster, do you hear, a monster.

Support is beginning to coalesce around the various men and woman seeking The Prize, and I think that's fine. It's never too soon to start wasting time, I always say. But I urge you, my countrymen, to hold your vote in great esteem. Think twice, think seven times, and seven more after that, rather than surrender your vote to a pollster.

Vote your mind.

Sphere: Related Content

No comments:

Blog stats

Add to Technorati Favorites