Sunday, November 02, 2008

It's Not Rocket Science, People

According to this NYTimes article, there are still a bunch of people who don't know how they want to vote on Tuesday. There's the guy who's fiscally conservative and socially liberal. The woman who says the more she talks about them, the more confused she gets.


Okay, here's an idea. It may take an hour or two, but it should solve the issue. First, take out a sheet of paper. Write down all the issues you care about in a chart. Make it as specific as possible, don't just say "socially liberal" or "fiscally conservative," get down to topics: prayer in schools, gay marriage, the war in Iraq, saving the freaking whales; whatever floats your boat. Then make three or four extra columns for the outside issues, like whether you think they've run an honest campaign, whether you think they have adequate experience, whether you personally like the candidate, what you think of the VP pick, who you think you can live with best for the next four years, who you think is most likely to get what they promised actually done, and so forth. Any intangible you think will make a difference. If you want to get real fancy, weight the columns by listing the mega-important issues to you two or three times. Keep the candidates in mind somewhat while you do this - for example, if VP picks aren't normally important to you but you think Palin is a disaster, or if the candidate's religious beliefs are not normally an issue but you think Obama's attending Wright's church is a big problem, list it. However, the primary focus of this part of the excercise is what's important to you, so you need to make the list about your priorities, not what the media is telling you your priorities should be. That said, don't be stupid and leave out some huge issue like national security just because you think you don't understand it. Put it in. Finally, if you get to the end and there's an even number of columns, think of one more thing.

Second, read over the list and take the candidates out of your mind. Figure out what you would do if you were God or the President about each of the issues. Figure out what you would like to see the ideal candidate do. Keep it somewhat realistic, but let yourself think outside the box. Find out what's really important to you, and keep everyone else out of it.

Now, get out a newspaper that lists the candidate's positions, or do your research on the web. Find out what they're actually for. And in each column, put either an O for Obama, or an M for McCain, depending on who you agree most with. You don't have to agree with them totally, just who you agree with more. If it's a total tossup after you've struggled over it for a while, then either leave it blank or put both initials in. Try not to do this much, though, 'cause you're screwing around with the even/odd column numbers.

Once you're done, count up the number of O's and M's. Whichever is the most, is the candidate that's more likely to be what you want. Ta-da. You now have a decision.

One final thing: you may find yourself arguing with your own list once you get into it. That may mean you've actually made a decision and you don't know it yet. You can either give up then and go for the decision you've obviously made on a gut level, or complete the exercise and try to figure out why you've made a gut level decision that obviously doesn't tally with the actual issues. I'd recommend the latter. It's probably that there's something important to you that you haven't listed, that weighs heavily. Figure out what it is, so that you can not only understand what you're vote is, but why you're voting that way. Ideally, when it's all done, you should have a decision based on your own beliefs and impressions. And you can quit driving the rest of us nuts.

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