....LMB: "Voting"....

February 05, 2004

Some weeks back, I meant to write a definitive post about the upcoming presidential elections. It was in response to the predictions, analysis and guesswork that are so ubiquitous around the blogosphere, people saying what Kerry or Dean or Clark "need to do" to get more voters and rack up the most votes. And I was going to essentially say "all of that stuff is nonsense. All that's going to matter in November is how the economy is doing, and whether or not Iraq is going badly. If both of those are positive, they'll vote for Bush. If not, they'll vote for the other guy." (and I was going to add that since the Republicans seem interested in making gay marriage a campaign issue, then whether or not the voters hate gay people was going to be a factor too).

But the day I'd resolved to write that post, I listened to a radio show with two entirely different possibilities that got me thinking (you can listen to the show here, scroll down to January 18).

The first guest was George Lakoff, who I studied quite a bit as a research assistant in grad school. He's a linguist who has tried to explain the different ways that American liberals and conservatives make moral judgements. In this interview, Lakoff more or less concluded that people would not be voting on issues or utilitarianism, but based upon their values and their feelings of personal identification with the candidates.

The second guest was Arlie Hochchild, who had written an article recently trying to explain why blue collar workers would support Bush, someone who so blatantly favors rich CEOs over everyday working people. I didn't quite understand what her article talked about, but the interview made more sense. She argues that working class men feel increasingly vulnerable and powerless, both in the real erosion of their economic and political power, and in the perceived encroachments by women (and in the case of white workers, by minorities). And rather than vote for the candidates that might be able to solve their problems, they opt for emotional satisfaction instead, voting for a candidate that lets them live out their macho fantasies, a fellow who'll kick a little ass in their name. The most ironic part of Hochchild's theory is that the policies of the macho candidates are often the very cause of the worker/voter's feelings of weakness and fear, which in turn, increase their desire to vote for a macho man. I don't know if I buy into the theory, but if it's true, it would mean that for aggressive candidates, hurting your constituents could actually help you in the polls.

So after having my own voter theories, and then hearing these two additional ones, I came to a conclusion so simple that it's stupid.

Different people choose who to vote for, for very different reasons.

The talking heads act as though there were only a few types of voter who each can only be appealed to by certain stances on certain issues. But this glut of ideas above would instead theorize that only some people will vote on issues, others will vote on candidate personality, or morality, or for emotional release, or a dozen other reasons.

Before spending too much time analyzing which political stances would appeal to which constituents, perhaps these pundits and analysts should first figure out how people are going to make their voting decisions in the first place.

Posted by Jake at 11:23 PM | TrackBack (0)
Comments

"rather than vote for the candidates that might be able to solve their problems, they opt for emotional satisfaction instead, voting for a candidate that lets them live out their macho fantasies, a fellow who'll kick a little ass in their name"

Yeah, macho fantasies, or maternal fantasies, or other fantasies involving their leader, however distant and vicarious the association may be. Kind of explains how so many men and women, both traditional voters and -- disproportionally -- younger voters put Schwartzenager into office, huh?

Posted by: Susan at February 6, 2004 08:51 AM

Ugh! Me vote Bush.

Bush kick ass.

Me no think good. Bush think for me.

Posted by: Woody at February 6, 2004 09:45 AM

Lost in all the identity politics from the left and reactionary/crypto-racist manipulation from the right, is the profound lack of class consciousness. The backwards outlook of discontented white working class males (at least those who identify with extreme right politicians) is the result of the abandoment of the elitist left and its institutions, who often dismiss them as rednecks while tooting the "working class" horn. This paves the way for the predatory right-wing to claim the white working class as their own and pit them against minorities, immigrants, women, gays, etc by leading them to believe that their disempowerment is the result of "undesirables" taking their jobs.

I can only speak of this from personal observations after growing up in the more economically devastated regions of the U.S. If you want to know why discontented whites go for Bush (no pun intended), think divide and conquer.

Posted by: Eric at February 6, 2004 04:00 PM

...And think political disorientation...

Posted by: Eric at February 6, 2004 04:03 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:

Failure.

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