How to vote like a smart person: Romney’s wealthy tan or Barack’s charisma and birth certificate? Who cares.

The psychology of voters

Photo: Austen Hufford

I’d like voters to attempt this year to discuss the candidates and issues beyond flash emotion and their (while understandable) visceral response.  

Fat chance  you say?  What we’re aware of we can change. 

We’re primal reactive animals. We’re driven largely by emotion, by non-verbal communication in other humans, so I get that when a candidate is too tan, too stoic or too charming this sends innate red flags up our protective spine, “There’s something about him, her I don’t like.”

Just don’t let that “something” be because someone is tan, doesn’t smile enough, has lots of dough or worse — is black or a woman.

I think it’s a good idea to default to our gut when we’re not sure what to do, when the information is overwhelming, which it is in politics. But in politics — an arena where spin and manipulation of our impression is MASTERFUL, the voter has to push past their visceral response to a candidate. 

We need to pull the lever according to how we weight each issues: Economic, tax policy, healthcare reform, business, social issues, domestic and international policy.  

For me, social issues are heavily weighted. I could get into the why’s behind this but my central point is weigh your issues, vote from there. 

Ignore how you feel the candidate?

Romney is “too tan” “too rich” “too removed from the people”  =  not one of us, not interested in middle America.

Obama is “too charismatic” = selling voters a slick load of unsubstantiated bullshit to cover up inexperience.

” Hillary is too “stoic and cold” = divisive, aggressive, bully (or as I sensed it, too assertive for a woman as to make some voters highly uncomfortable with such a strong lady in power….)

How to vote like a smart person

  • Ignore the notably biased pundits. Bias runs in all pundits veins but at least base your view on a summation of many views. 
     
  •  Take a look at the other party’s platform. Look for an issue or proposed policy that makes at least SOME sense to you. This won’t change your vote, but it might open your mind to an ah-ha and dampen SOME of the boiling anger that surrounds party politics.
     
  •  Avoid debating. Avoid convincing. Avoid stereotypes about your neighbor’s views. 
     
  •  Avoid discussing politics after more than one glass of wine or beer. Drunk people say stupid things and get angry too fast. 

All Republicans aren’t selfish. All Democrats aren’t anti-capitalism. 

Republicans aren’t selfish, lack compassion for the hurting or the environment. They aren’t all rich — and even if they are rich, why spite the wealthy? Spite won’t improve your circumstances  and jealousy will make you feel worse. Asking for income equality asks for socialism which would suck innovation, competition, free will and our spirit right out of the nation.  Republicans don’t hate the environment or people who need a hand out of their tough situation.  They hate taxes and big spending and in that, something’s gotta give.

All Democrats aren’t idealistic demagogues and even if they are idealists, idealism is the necessary trigger to launch change. All Democrats aren’t anti-business capitalism-hating socialists waiting to take and give handouts because they’re inherently lazy or feel “entitled” to what you, the Republican, worked hard to achieve. Democrats don’t hate big  business or small ones (I’m pretttty sure we have a few Democrats in business around the country); they hate seeing their hard earned investments, retirement and income go down the toilet due to arrogant, selfish and sly business practices – qualities that are non-partisan and all too human.    

The rich want tax breaks, the poor want tax breaks, the middle class want tax breaks. We all deserve them. 

Boot-strap pulling, the  moniker of the Republicans, IS possible and admirable in our nation but it is not ALWAYS within the IMMEDIATE reach of the deeply suffering. I suspect no one would criticize Mother Theresa for offering help to the needy. The person who lost their job, their house, their child, their health, their mind, their hope, their spare bedroom to an ailing parent, might need a hand.

It could be you who needs help one day –so be careful not to spite the notion of a hand up, even if God forbid, it feels like a hand out. 

Business and capitalism are working spokes in the wheel of freedom.  Take away capitalism — free markets, and you lose competition, innovation and a system that has largely provided freedom of opportunity, freedom to buy goods and services. Yes, capitalism is flawed because humans are flawed, but it’s a better system than the alternatives. 

  • Move past generalities and understand that if you switched places with the person next to you, you might suddenly want to align with their party: Circumstances have an AMAZING way of changing a political view that at one time felt “wrong.” Ask Nancy Reagan who at one time didn’t support stem cell research until her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimers.
     
  • Always void aligning with extreme polar views — work to stay centric. 
     
  • Consider, mull over, what you once thought asinine: trickle down, grass roots, protecting the environment, tax cuts (as an aside: I’d vote for the Fair Tax)
     
  • Don’t bother trying to change someone’s view on social issues. Social issues hail from our heart. They can rarely be turned.  If you must offer your view (as I “must” from time to time, admittedly) do it gently, calmly with respect for the other side with one exception — if hate talk comes out (“faggot, nigger, bitches, broads, towelheads, jews, whores, heathens, abomination of God”) – refuse to engage.  Racism, sexism, any “ism” hears nothing — that door is closed.  

I’m an Independent as of last year. Some say Indy’s dilute the party but I don’t choose my platform in order to align with group politics. If my candidate loses I’ll be upset but the world won’t come to an end I suspect (I’m not being cavalier and flip — I genuinely believe this).

Vote smart.

And by smart I don’t mean vote for my candidate, I mean get inside the opposite party’s head.

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