As part of an E-mail…
As part of an E-mail exchange about the first Presidential debate, my brother wrote about swing voters. I liked his response so much I asked if I could post it here. He agreed, and he’s fleshed it out a bit more, so here it is. (Cross-posted at for comments.)

Swing voters are among the top five things of greatest threat to this country.

The existence of swing voters has lead to the political strategist industry. Without them the candidates would NOT need to kiss babies; quote Scripture in the Bible belt; wear blue flannel shirts in Detroit; or worry about sighing during a debate. Swing voters take whole campaigns off the issues to focus more on looking ‘presidential’, being articulate, or generating emotional high political-religious experiences.

Without swing voters political advertising would almost die out completely. Issues of significance can’t be communicated in 30 seconds, but an image can. And swing voters LOVE image. The vote of a swing-voter hangs in the balance as they watch that 30-second spot. They wait on the edge of their seat to see if a candidate will step on a rake at the last minute. Swing voters voted against Gore because they were ganged seeing him kiss his wife at the convention. Swing voters voted against Bush because he seemed cocky and over-confident the day before the election.

There are three types of swing voters:

First there are those who simply love the drama of the campaigns. It’s like a sport to them. “Oh what fun it is to ride in a foaming-mouth campaign; HEY!” These people have very itching ears. Tickle them right, and their vote is YOURS; for today.

Secondly, there are swing voters that whine, “There’s really no difference between the two candidates.” Those are political morons. Giving them a vote is like giving a child a steak knife; you never know where that thing’s going to end up. These swing voters vote with their hearts more than their heads; mood-voters. Honestly, they really care little who gets elected.

Thirdly, there are those who sincerely find themselves caught between priorities and feel split down the middle. Seeing issues on both sides that they value leaves them tormented as to which way to vote. The election is important to them. Their struggle is real. This is no sport.

In my admittedly limited experience, I seem to remember the swing voters of the worst order the most. I see an on-the-street reporter push a microphone into someone’s face and ask who would they vote for if the election was held today. I listen for an answer. “I’m not sure yet. They both have interesting points. Let’s see who wins the debates!” My blood boils. Will the fate of our nation really hang in the balance while swing voters like this listen for mystical signs in the commentator’s voice telling them who ‘won’ the debate. Is this a Dr. Smooth contest or a presidential election?

At best most of these swing voters see themselves as shoppers looking for the best bargain. At worst they see themselves as morally superior. They are not bound by the ridged doctrines of parties. They float in the anchorless boat of situational ethics/politics and think themselves so clever that they wait to the very last minute to decide.

Presidential debates, as we see them today, are designed ONLY for the swing voter. Anyone with a clear sense of priorities made their choice months ago and no brilliant masterstroke nor colossal blunder in a debate will change their foundational belief system (hence, their vote). The undecided now are mostly those who are waiting for goose-bumps to come at the right time.

The Electoral College was invented so that swing voters would not need to exist. The Electoral College was to consist of wealthy men of high ethical standards so that they could resist bribery. They would not simply vote for a candidate who was most in favor of ‘farmers issues’ even if many of their constituents were farmers. They would be men of enough intellect to be able to represent the concerns of their people yet also see the bigger picture that perhaps those farmers could not appreciate. They were also supposed to have the wisdom to vote for what they saw was in the highest interests of the nation even if that meant disappointing a few (or a great many more) folks at home.

We’ve come a very long way from that original plan. The one-man-one-vote system of today makes swing voters inevitable. So when I see a low voter turnout I’m torn between being disappointed at an apathetic populace and knowing that many people who would have brought a nickel with them to flip in the voting booth stayed home.

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