Why do people vote for a certain candidate?

23 10 2008

I typically make it a point to avoid watching or listening to Howard Stern because of how vulgar he often is.  But occasionally he makes a good point and thinks outside the box.  Plus, he’s not afraid to challenge ideas that are controversial.  (He usually goes too far, but that’s made him famous.)

Anyway, someone showed me this video clip of him where he had someone go to Harlem and ask people there why they support Barack Obama.  His hypothesis was that some blacks / African-Americans vote for Obama solely because he is black.  So in this polling they used McCain’s platform and attributed it all to Obama, and some of the people never knew.  In fact, some of them actually agreed with McCain’s stance on the issue, obviously because they thought it was Obama’s stance.  The pollster even said Sarah Palin was Obama’s choice for Vice President, and some people went along with it.

Take a listen: Howard Stern Harlem Poll

This is what scares me about the upcoming election — people who have no clue what is going on, but are voting based on one single piece of information or rumor or stereotype.  It’s not just about race, either, although this example is.  Some people vote only one party, Republican or Democrat.  Some people look only at one or two issues (and thus the candidates focus only on certain issues, instead of what might really be most important).

I don’t really have a problem with people voting for the person I wouldn’t vote for, if the voter is knowledgeable about the issues and thus makes an educated decision.  That’s how the democracy / republic works.  We each have the right to vote for who we think is best.  But it’s scary for the future of our country when a lot of people don’t really know who the presidential candidates are yet they vote because of a certain image or stereotype (like a party being more for certain races / demographics, when the facts usually don’t back that up).

I think a democracy is great, but when the people aren’t educated on who they’re voting for, things can go bad.  Here’s a quote that looks at democracy from this angle:

Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time. ~ E.B. White

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