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James Lileks sums up Super Tuesday

By Brian | February 5, 2008 | Share on Facebook

Once again, James Lileks does a masterful job of describing exactly how I feel about something that’s happening in the world:

“I’m going to vote for President Hillary,” (G)Nat said when we got home. I asked her why.

“Because she is a woman and she seems like a good leader.”

Well, let’s just Godwin the hell out of this for grins.

“Would you vote for Hitler if he was a woman?”

She stopped and glared. DAD.

“I’m not saying she’s anything like Hitler,’ I said. ‘She’s not at all. But would you vote for someone just because they were a woman?”

“And she seems like a good leader I said. Hitler was not a good leader.”

I considered noting that Hitler was an effective shaper of public opinion as well, but decided to ask her what made a good leader.

“Deciding the best things for people.”

We had a little talk about taxes, and she was surprised to find that the President and the Congresses can just take your money. “That’s wrong.”

Sigh. Careful. This is civics, not brainwashing.

“No, it’s not wrong. We all agree to pay taxes for things we need. We don’t always agree on how much to pay, or what to spend them on. But if they take too much, then we can’t go to Disneyworld.”

Okay, now it was brainwashing. Her eyes grew wide. “I vote for Obama.”

“He might raise taxes, too.”

She looked bereft: “who else is there then?”

Welcome to the club, child.

My own 7-year old asked me the other night who I was “rooting for” in today’s election. I told him that we call it “voting” and not “rooting,” and that I really wasn’t sure yet, so I wasn’t going to vote for anyone.

Tough civics lesson, there – I’m sure they’re drilling it into his head that it’s his sacred duty to vote when he turns 18, and here’s Dad telling him he’s abstaining because he has no opinion just yet. The truth is that I knew my ideas lined up pretty well with Rudy Giuliani, but now that he’s not running, I simply don’t know enough about McCain or Romney to make an informed choice. According to Wikipedia (Dems, Reps) there have been a total of 43 debates so far, and what little I’ve seen of them has not encouraged me to watch more. And so I’ll sit out the New Jersey primary, and do my research on the two who are chosen (by others) to run.

I supsect that most people are as uninformed as I am, but are voting today anyway. I’m not sure how I feel about that. If you don’t know anything about the candidates, what’s more important? Excercising your sacred right to vote, or not muddying the results with an uninformed vote? Maybe we should have 43 debates on the topic…

Taking the point a bit further, I also suspect that a significant segment of the population feels informed because they’ve been hearing about poll results for the last nine months, and are simply voting for the person about whom they’ve heard good things lately. Case in point: there was a man on the street corner in front of my train station this morning holding an octag sign. I didn’t have a digital camera with me, but I’ve recreated the sign to the right. Basically, this says to me, “Vote for Obama – he’s winning.”

Of course, people are free to vote for whatever reasons they choose, but if this truly is the trend, I wonder whether all of these opinion polls are affecting the outcome (see the Observer Effect). And if that’s the case, I think perhaps we could do with a little less information about what everyone thinks.

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