Monday, February 04, 2008

Losing the Argument

Spending all day on the internets as I do I come across plenty of candidate supporters. While I've never really chosen a candidate - at various times I've leaned towards all of the big 3 (now 2) - I certainly don't have a problem with those who have. My rough neutrality isn't some "I'm above it all" pose, it's genuine ambivalence combined with a bit of the sentiment that Roger Ailes (the good one) expresses here.

I am still open to being persuaded, not that my April vote is likely to matter much. And I do read the cases made by supporters with interest, even the zealous ones. But the worst supporters are the ones who are essentially saying, "If you don't support my candidate there's something wrong with you." You're stupid, or naive, or misinformed, or cowardly, or racist, or sexist, or immoral, or frightened, or whatever.

These twin editorials by Michael Chabon and Erica Jong are two representatives of this genre. Of the two Chabon's is less insulting, but it isn't ultimately that much different. Both suggest that if you can only manange to overcome your personal shortcomings and failings, then the choice is obvious. A failure to make that choice isn't simply a bed decision, but a reflection of personal flaws.

It's really a poor way to sell a candidate. More than that, both fail to understand that people actually do have different sets of priorities, and those differing priorities, combined with subjective yet informed judgments about the candidates, can lead perfectly sensible people to come to different decisions.