Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sad but True

As preface, I was at a conference a couple weeks ago where I heard from one of the more objective academic political pollsters out there. You have probably seen or heard of some of his work. One point he made was that presidential elections can either be 'issue elections' or 'personality driven elections'. Which one is this he was pretty sure: personality. That seemed kind of shocking when I heard it. There is no shortage of issues out there and I can't really imagine the two parties could have picked two candidates who presented starker contrasts on most issues. We really could (should?) be having a great national debate right now.

But if I had any lingering illusions that issues mattered this election, the picture below pretty much dispelled them. I debated whether to post this. I just didn't want to touch national political stuff other than the purely wonkish angles... but this was so troubling that I would have felt guilty to ignore it completely. Where exactly this was put up is not as important as the mere fact that it exists. I'll just say it was 100 miles or so from Pittsburgh. If I only saw one sign like this I would still have just ignored it, but it was not alone. Someone clearly has a template to paint these in quantity. Three colors no less.


Blogger Rick Byerly said...

that is sad. lack of education and ignorance seems to be at the heart of all of our problems.

the real issues are not talked about, like our debt being appr 71% of the 2007 gdp, the loose monetary policies that brought us to these crises, the 2 party system which offers little choice, a media which distracts us from real thought, etc etc. we're in a system where the goals have always been to train good little workers who don't ask too many questions and now it's coming apart at the seems.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger EdHeath said...

At the risk of being a broken record, I will mention a book: "The Political Brain" by Drew Westen. He looks at past elections and how most voters appear to be by emotional "gut" appeals. By the way, I have heard members of McCain's campaign staff and Republican "strategists" say this is not an issues election, that it is a personality election.

It is a cliché but probably true to say that both candidates "stretch" the truth. For example, the Obama campaign ran an ad commenting that McCain has voted for President Bush’s Social Security plan and implied that reflected McCain’s Social Security position. I couldn’t find McCain’s policy on Social Security on his website, so I think the ad was disingenuous.

But the McCain ads like the Paris Hilton/Britney Spears ad are all gut level appeals. I personally think McCain’s campaign has done nothing else besides gut level attacks, including several comments that could be (and therefore probably should be) taken as racist. McCain claimed, in his acceptance speech, that he would work to end “partisan rancor”. I believe he and his campaign are doing exactly the opposite.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 3:37:00 PM  

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