10/27/08   The bumper sticker voter…

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the election, a lot of thought to the candidates, and lately…a lot of thought to the voters.


Since it became clear Barak Obama was going to be the Democratic nominee, John McCain made an issue of his qualifications (that tactic stopped when McCain named a VP candidate with a laughable resume). By historical standards it should be clear that both John McCain and Barak Obama are more than qualified to lead the country. The question is, how many of us are qualified to choose between them?


I’ve had some long probing conversations with friends and strangers over the last year about the election and the issues. Many of them are well read and nuanced in their thinking, but many are what I call “bumper sticker voters”.


A bumper sticker voter is someone who either gets their information from a source that reinforces their thinking or doesn’t require them to think at all. That usually means talk radio or the Fox News Channel. Air America and MSNBC do the same thing on the other side but don’t reach nearly as many people.


The bumper sticker voter doesn’t read newspapers (maybe glances at the local paper) or news magazines, and seldom reads opinion pieces or op-ed pages. But he does read the emails his or her friends send them (friends who usually have the same political leaning) and passes on the sometimes grossly inaccurate chain letters.


A bumper sticker voter likes simplicity… it’s safe and doesn’t make them think. It doesn’t cloud their worldview. They have access to the internet but have never been to the candidates websites to contrast their positions, why do that when Sean and Rush can explain it so much more clearly?


Bumper sticker voters are frequently one issue voters, guns, abortion, taxes, terrorism, etc. These are all important issues to be sure, but to base your vote on gun rights alone when nuclear proliferation is a bigger treat than ever, has become more dangerous under the Bush administration and is largely unmentioned in this campaign is denial with a capital D.


To base your choice on abortion alone when millions of babies are born in the third world to live short painful lives just to die of starvation because basic family planning is unavailable or politically unpopular is conveniently nearsighted.


To cast a vote based only on what it will do to your taxes while ignoring the gaping loopholes crafted for big business and the superrich in the last few years is essentially giving your vote away.


And to vote for a man based on what terrorists have or have not done in the last four years, while ignoring the misguided direction and funding of the “War on Terror” is to ignore the reasons for our declining position in the world.


In short, if you’re too lazy, too comfortable or too frightened to do some basic research and honestly listen to the positions of both sides in the Presidential race and other important local issues, then do the informed voter a favor on election day and stay home.