Tuesday, October 21, 2008

David Sedaris On Undecided Voters

This is a perfect example of why Sedaris is such a good writer.

While I tell:
I simply can't figure out how a reasonable person could be undecided at this point and still feel competent to vote. Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have quite thoroughly distinguished themselves from each other by now. In order to still not know which one to support a person has to either be almost completely ignorant of what has transpired in the election process thus far or be simply be an idiot. If a person has been paying any attention whatsoever and has even vague notions of what sort of economic, foreign, or social policies he or she favors, choosing between McCain and Obama ought not to be a challenging exercise.

But, obviously, those in charge over at CNN don't share my perspective.

I made the mistake of watching the vice-presidential debate on CNN. Looking back on it, I really ought to have suggested that we change the channel, but I was attending a debate-watching party with some friends. And I generally try not to question other people's programming choices when I'm sitting on their couch and watching their TV. But if a similar situation ever arises again, I will speak up. This is because CNN gathers up focus groups of undecided voters and puts little dials in their hands. These people then proceed to constantly give feedback about whether they approve of disapprove of any given phrase a candidate happens to be speaking in real time. Because men and women have different dials, one also gets to see how possessing different sets of genitals affects one's rhetorical judgments.

Initially, such an instant feedback mechanism from ordinary people seems like it might be an interesting tool to observe how the debate is going. It's not. All it managed to do was create in me a pitch-black, noxiously bubbling hatred toward undecided voters in Ohio, which was where this group was from. As the debate wore on, I became increasingly convinced that the people CNN had recruited for their focus group were both ignorant and idiotic. And this is despite the fact that Gov. Sarah Palin's favorability rankings generally seemed lower than Sen. Joe Biden's.

The ease with which these know-nothing citizens from Ohio were manipulated was astounding to me. And it takes a lot to astound me with regards to the gullibility of the masses - for whom, as a raging elitist, I already have an unhealthy level of contempt. This is not to say that I feel this contempt is undeserved, but primarily simply to suggest that it is likely bad for my health, raising my blood pressure as it does. Regardless, apparently all a person has to do to tilt a swing voter from Ohio in one's direction is to hold out some candy and say nice things about them.

Sedaris shows:
To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

I mean, really, what’s to be confused about?

Brilliant.

(Via Slog.)

3 comments:

JamesEJ said...

I'm only barely leaning one way in this. As you know, libertarians often have a difficult choice. It isn't a lack of knowledge that is the problem. It is the fact that we have to choose between two realistic candidates who piss us off half of the time (or vote for a predetermined loser). It isn't between chicken and shit. It is between chicken with a shit glaze and chicken stuffed with shit. Scrape the shit off all you want and your chicken still comes with a hint of shit.

taco said...

OK I'll bite: Why is this "brilliant"? As with most of Sedaris' work, it's all about himself.

Maybe he is brilliant because your implicit assumption is that you, yourself, are brilliant, and Sedaris happens to side with you in looking down your nose at anyone who's not on the Obama bandwagon with the two of you?

Brilliant.

Undecidedman said...

While I’m a big fan of David Sedaris, he (like most voters whose voting pattern was pre-determined years or decades before the current candidates were nominated) confuses thinking about the important issue of who to vote for (which many undecideds are doing) with not thinking about it (which, by definition, most decideds have stopped doing). My reply to Mr. Sedaris can be found at http://www.undecidedman.com under “Naivite”.