Sunday, January 6, 2008

Blink '08

So here I am. All eyes of the nation are on me. I am a citizen of New Hampshire, with the first in the nation primary election. Not only am I a citizen, I am a registered voter. Beyond that, I am a registered independent, one of those bothersome Yankees who will not declare allegiance to one party or another, but reserve the right to vote any time I want for whomever I damn well please. This makes me a hot political commodity for the next few days. Millions on millions seek my opinion, attempt to discern my judgment, desire to plumb the depths (or shallows) of my political views. Therefore, I am become the Accidental Pundit.
Of course, I am not alone here. There are about a million or so other residents of the state, about 700,000 registered voters, of which some 40% are independents like me. I have many friends who have been complaining about receiving multiple phone calls each day for polling or campaign calls from candidates. I personally haven’t received any political phone calls. Therefore, I have to say that while no one is specifically seeking information on my individual vote, I am a cell in a larger organism. If the cell that is me should twitch one way, along with enough of my neighbors, the political muscle that is NH will contract and turn the national corpus just so. The nation may not stay moving in that direction, but once moving, it may be hard to change. It will depend on how the rest of the states twitch.
I am not a real pundit. I really don’t have the chops to sort through the policy papers of all the candidates. If I did, I’m not sure I would have a deep enough understanding of the national and international issues involved to make an adequate logical choice. So, I blink.
This means my decision is going to be made based on rapid cognition. You can call it gut feeling or intuition if you wish. Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, sets out the thesis that we make most of our decision really in about two seconds, with a pretty thin slice of the available data, that we then subconsciously extrapolate. The book is largely “about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.”
Basically this means that I have been watching, listening to, and reading about the candidates. I have been developing a sort of gut reaction to each. Frankly, I like several of them a lot, and think I would be reasonably content if they won. But I have to pick one. So…I blink.
I’m still blinking. I have definite leanings, but won’t know for sure until I fill in the little circle all nice and black. Me and a bunch of others. Then the nation will know what we thought, how we blinked and which direction we twitched. My moment of punditry. Then the chattering masses move on to someplace else and leave us in peace. And God help us all.


Anonymous said...

Only 40% are independent? Does this mean the other 60% are libertarians?

My guess is that NH is creeping toward Vermont. A "libertarian" view that people should be able to do whatever they damn well please as long as the government is there to pick up the mess.

I am sticking to my Ron Paul vote in the Primary, if it even gets to Wisconsin.


Dubbahdee said...

You are goading me. Fine. I'll lash back a little further down. But for now, let me say that you betray your ignorance of the character of NH people and politics. I can understand why. It's hard to get a clear view from WI. Seeing as how you are looking through VT, I can see how it might look the way you say.
If we are drifting in any direction, it is toward Massachusetts. The lower third of the state has been heavily infiltrated by people who don't want to pay the MA taxes, but don't mind working there. Lots of them are Dems. Geographically, east/west movement is very difficult, compared to north/south movement so communication between VT and NH is not that great. The likeness does become much greater, however, the further north you go. But the population also gets thinner.
My guess is that most libertarians fold themselves into the independent group. The declareds are Reps and Dems.
And the reason that retail politicking is so important in the NH primary is that politics really truly is local here. The state really does relatively little compared to MA or WI or MI, etc. A suprisingly large amount of decisions are truly local. You should come here in March and visit one of our town meetings - the real ones where the work gets done, not those trumped up media circuses candidates like to call town meetings. We decide what we want to have in our town, and we decide how much we are going to pay for it. Schools. Roads. Police. The whole shebang. We vote directly to tax ourselves to pay for our own services. You would really enjoy the process. Might even decide to move here.
All this is to say, get off your libertarian high horse. I won't vote for Paul because, although I like many of the things he stands for, I don't think he could get one single thing actually done. He would be a frikkin republican version of Jimmy Carter, and I don't think that would help anybody. I'm not voting to send a message. I'm voting to elect somebody, and I don't have time for foolishness. (that's me goading you back)

Anonymous said...

Ok, you are right that I was goading you. I took the chance that creeping toward Vermont would get a better reaction than creeping toward MA.

AND, you are right that I would probably enjoy the actual self-governing of your community much more than the pawns of the beast that govern our community.

AND, you are right about Ron Paul. I do want to send a message, and because I know he will not get the nomination, I feel it might be safe to do so. As of now, I don't have a horse in the race.

Anonymous said...

By the way... who did you vote for?