It's raining today, so Gore won't get my vote...
September 10, 2004 11:03 AM   Subscribe

Behavior in the voting booth. (by Louis Menand)
posted by advil (7 comments total)
A nice read, thanks! The phrase "unenlighted self-interest" should make a good name for, er, something.
posted by of strange foe at 12:10 PM on September 10, 2004

The typical citizen drops down to a lower level of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field....He argues and analyzes in a way which he would readily recognize as infantile within the sphere of his real interests. He becomes a primitive again.

Anybody recognize him/herself?

Actually this whole topic (and fantastic read, by the way) has been on my mind very much since last Sunday. Our local paper, The Raleigh News and Observer, got together a panal of local voters and had them discuss who they would vote for and why. One lady declared that even though she disagreed with most of his policies she would vote for Bush because he prays to God.

I know, I know. It's long been evident that Bush has courted and won the Christian Right, but to see in black and white someone choosing to go against what they have experienced (i.e. GWB's record during his 4 years in office) in favor of what they have been told (GWB's declaration that he is a born again Christian) is discouraging. You can never know what is in anybody's mind or heart. You must judge people on their actions not their words. But apparently there are too many words out there and the voters have gotten so caught up in the rhetoric, they are forgetting about what has really taken place this past four years.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:43 PM on September 10, 2004

Very interesting article, even if a little Capt Obvious.

Most people identify themselves as moderates, and their responses to survey questions seem to substantiate this self-description. What has become polarized, Fiorina argues, is the élite. The chatter—among political activists, commentators, lobbyists, movie stars, and so on—has become highly ideological. It’s a non-stop “Crossfire,” and this means that the candidates themselves come wrapped in more extreme ideological coloring.

I've been looking for the referenced The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics with no luck. If anyone finds the whole text online, please post a link.
posted by roboto at 2:03 PM on September 10, 2004

Forty-nine per cent believe that the President has the power to suspend the Constitution.

Presumably the forty-nine percent who, unlike the author of this article, are familiar with Worcester v. Georgia.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 4:43 PM on September 10, 2004

IshmaelGraves: Care explaining how that case gives the President power to suspend the Constitution? Nothing I've read about it suggests that.
posted by josh at 5:58 PM on September 10, 2004

josh: it doesn't give the president any such de jure power — in fact it doesn't give him any power at all — but Jackson's fabled response ("The Supreme Court has made their decision; now let them enforce it," or, in the parlance of our times, "You and what army?") is a pretty clear illustration that he has that power de facto. Where in the Constituion does it say that the president can override the Supreme Court on a whim? It doesn't. But Jackson did, because he could.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:40 PM on September 10, 2004

That relies on a willful misreading of Menand's point, though. It would hardly be worth remarking that 49% of the people believe that the present is in fact capable of acting unconstitutionally. (Or if it were, it would be because the number is so low.)
posted by kenko at 11:49 PM on September 10, 2004

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