February 9th, 2008


Issues vs. Emotions/Character

One of the things I find curious is how much people vote on emotional impression. Since people have figured out I am nearly undecided, I've had a bunch of folks try to convince me, mostly to vote for Obama. Almost every single one of those appeals been an appeal to vote for him because of the kind of person they believe him to be.

I don't vote that way, not for the most part. I won't even bother to consider Lyndon LaRouche's positions because he's just a nutjob. And I will consider hypocrisy and lying. 90% of what I am looking for is their position on issues, and their record.

I believe that voting for someone because of our emotional impressions of their character as viewed through the lens of the media and campaign is a bad idea. That's the sort of thing that got us George W. Bush in office. He was personable. He wasn't smart, but would surround himself with smart people. He was likable. Al Gore was a liar. He was wooden. He was too triangulating. That's what made the race close enough to be decided in the Supreme Court. Never mind that Bush's tax plan didn't add up. Never mind that Al Gore knew what he was talking about regarding global warming.

Something similar is going on this year. McCain is a straight-talker. Clinton is too emotional. Clinton is too cold. Clinton is too ambitious. Obama is inspiring. Obama cares.

Again, I say "no." What are their positions? How will they implement them? Are they correct? Will their policies work? Will they work better than their opponents? What is their record?

At this point, I have Clinton up on health care big, and Obama up on Iraq (barely) and technology. I have Obama down on gay rights. Sadly, neither has a stellar record here, but Clinton's is less far down. At least both have staked positions that are an improvement from the last 8 years. I have immigration and education as a wash between the two. There are plenty more issues I care about, but I haven't enough time to read up on all of them unfortunately.

Here's the thing, it took me a fair amount of effort to go look up all those positions. It's much harder to go find out information instead of sucking in what's fed to us through the media. The debates have been the best thing of the campaign so far in the media. But even there, a candidate has time that is too limited to elaborate on their positions.

Anyhoo, I think the character approach is the wrong approach to selection an officeholder, for the most part.

Also, so far I'd be okay with either Clinton or Obama in the White House. At least I'd take either of them over McCain or Huckabee.