9.17.2008

Single-issue voters

Lately, I've been thinking a great deal about the single-issue voters out there.  Just in my own circles, I've come across people whose vote is decided by one issue alone, from abortion (pro-life or pro-choice) to Israel (who's the most pro?) to taxes (lower) to regulation of particular industries (less).  

While I more or less used to give these people a pass (since, hey, if that's the most important thing to them, then maybe nothing else does matter in their minds), even if I disagreed with their position, I now find myself getting all riled up on the issue.  Like, to the extent that I sometimes think it is fundamentally immoral to vote on one thing alone. 

Certain family members of mine will say things like, "Well, I don't agree with all that stuff that the social conservatives want, but taxes matter most to me."  My response is that these family members are still making those other things (like constriction of civil rights) happen, and they have a moral obligation to admit to that.    And this doesn't only go one way; it's just that the Republican single-issue voters have been more visible and more exploited in recent years.

But maybe my blood pressure is rising because of the stress of the election season, and I'm not thinking rationally.  What do you think about single-issue voting?  Is there one issue for you that trumps all others and would change your vote?  

5 comments:

Pete said...

Absolutely- and just to echo your point about it "not just being conservatives," I would say that this problem has been a greater detriment on our side than theirs over the years. The trick is getting single-issue people on a matter of pure symbolism that will not actually come to bear on how you govern. The GOP is a lot better on that than we are.

Rather than go the "moral obligation" route, I prefer the "Obama is actually your guy on that" approach." Pro-life? Obama's policies will do more to reduce the number of abortions in this country than McCain's hollow and likely disingenuous position on the matter. Worried about Israel? McCain's bellicosity is a far bigger threat to their security than Obama's temperamental caution, and really, that's the biggest difference on Israel you'll find between them- they're both "pro-Israel" (as if any mainstream American political figure isn't). Don't want your taxes raised? Well, actually, unless you're making more than $250K, you'll do as well under Obama as McCain, if not better- go check out that calculator online to see for yourself. But even if you are among the few who will see an increase- you like bridges, don't you? Having a strong military? McCain's tax plan is magical- it doesn't even come close to adding up.

And so on. Of course a lot of people are just unpersuadable, in which case it's best to ascertain that as early as possible in the conversation, so you can change the topic of how good the mashed potatoes are and whether or not they can be passed in your direction.

That's my take anyway.

Also, once they bring up the bell curve, it's best to go watch football in the other room.

cj said...

Unfortunately, a voter who knows about one issue is probably ahead of a large chunk of the electorate.

Overheard today (yes, *today*, 48 days before the election, in *Iowa City*):

Person A: So, who are you voting for?

Person B: McCain.

Person A: How come?

Person B: I don't like that Obama didn't choose Hillary as his VP.

Person A: What did you like about Hillary?

Person B: I think she's really smart and would be a good leader. Anyway I'd feel a lot better about Obama if he wasn't a Muslim.

Grendel said...

A close relative of mine likes Obama and agrees with him on almost everything, but because of one issue -- I won't say which -- s/he will not be voting for him, I'm pretty sure.

Pete said...

It's corn subsidies, right?

Pete said...

CJ's conversation reminds me of one I overheard at the Illini game this weekend. This one is only mostly true.

Girl: I never saw Chief Illiniwek [the erstwhile and controversial mascot who used to do a war dance at halftime in a full regalia]

Boy: Yeah. Stupid indians, making it illegal!

Girl: look him up on youtube! I want to see it!

Boy: Whatever happened to free speech?

Girl: [shoving her phone in his hands] Look him up on youtube for me!

Boy: Fucking indians. I can't believe they are so much lamer than our fake indian.

Girl: YOUTUBE!

Boy: Don't get me wrong. I'm not racist. It's that authenticity is less than meaningful in my generation's worldview. That, and I must be amused above all else--and instantaneously. Why should I put up with real minorities when the fake ones are so much more willing to dance for me?

Girl: [chanting with the rest of the student section] I-N-I!

Boy:[thumbs at the cell phone and then stares at the screen in total stillness for 43 seconds. Then thumbs at it again.]

Girl: [leans in over his shoulder] Dance, Chief, Dance!