What is it, nine days?

Nine days before we — as a nation — make our biggest decision of the year. Zealots say: "the biggest decision of our lives." (Zealots are sometimes right.)

As a recovering marketer, I can't help but see this in clinical terms. Like the analogies from SATs of yore:

  • As voter : consumer, candidate packaged good
  • As voter : candidate, vote : purchase
  • As my candidate : other candidate(s), least disagreeable : threatening

But none of us knows if the final analogy is true. There are data. But the truth is elusive.

We Don't Really Know.
We might change our minds. But we are not undecided. All of us know for whom we will vote.

But our knowledge is not based on real understanding of how the elected will govern on January 21st. That's unknowable, no matter what they have said and done. Our decision is — and will be — based on our interpretation of selected data. Thin ice, anyone?

Marty1Marty Saperstein, one of the smartest guys who will spend time with me, holds a Ph.D. in statistics. I asked him yesterday, "Is anyone really undecided? Or do they just not want to talk about it?"

Marty said, "That's right. During surveys, when people say they are undecided, we ask them why. Nine out of ten of them respond with a negative. For example, 'I don't want to vote for that other guy because of [some micro or macro issue].' So they are decided, but they might not realize it yet, or just don't want to put it in those terms."

When I asked Marty for whom he is voting, he responded with a question, before giving me the simple answer: "For whom do you think I am voting?" My answer to that question, he says, reveals my own choice, because I will "think the best of him for voting the same way." He's a wily researcher.

By the way, Marty and I are not voting for the same candidate. This is proof that smart people can disagree with me on this election. (More on that below.)

But We Do Care.
Recently I sat with an otherwise equanimous fellow who was redfaced, steam coming from his ears over this election. Steeped in conspiracy theory and reports that have come from under rocks, he spoke daggers about the other candidate. He sounded like he was going to split in two. The rest of the table just watched him.

And I have seen and heard the same passionate frenzy from the other side about his candidate.

Stick a fork in us. We are boiled over.
Usually (by which I mean all other episodes of Survivor), we get to see the vote each week. We never have to wait months — years! — to vote everyone else off the island. Trained by drive-thru dining, we are not a patient people.

We have seen the two finalists do what is not necessary to govern. We have seen the debates. Or, as I think of the so-called debates, two very smart introverts throwing pies at each other. I watched only one of them (the second Presidential) and, frankly, I wish I had skipped it. I wasn't any smarter when it ended.

How I Truly Feel

I believe that those who vote for the other candidate(s) are NOT necessarily ignorant or stupid. We simply disagree on the criteria for employment in this key CEO position.

Registration and voting are work, but they are among our most important jobs. I am sad about low voter turnout. I agree with David Foster Wallace:

“If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don't bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don't bullshit yourself that you're not voting. In reality, there is  no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard's vote.”

I am not riddled with fear about my choice not being the choice of the majority. After all, none of us — not even the candidates themselves, despite all the campaign declarations and previous decisions — knows what January 21 will present in the ways of challenges and how the President will respond.

We will have a President and I will salute him. I wish only for the health and enlightenment of humanity, guided by wise and learning leaders.

I long for elections where I am torn between two equally appealing candidates, rather than where I hunt for the least objectionable.

05abe6aMeet Stanley.

You might remember the fellow I had decided to avoid — and then, at what I had secretly planned as our final lunch, I decided to renew our companionship. I called him "Stanley" in a recent post.

That friend — the real "Stanley" — responded to me in an email. He is Mark Wallinger and he permits me to share his response (excerpted): 

Really, really enjoying my political retirement. Living in Ohio, you can’t escape it all, of course, but I have better things to do with my time than take a survey, answer a robo-call, get agitated by what this party said about that one. This discourse is nothing new, just on more platforms, more frequencies, more often.

So it goes.

And I’m not sipping tea, or walking in woods. Instead, I’m vigorously pursuing things that interest me, my craft, my family and friends.

I’m not manipulated into faux “debates” that matter little. Somehow, in recent years, we’ve been led to believe our opinions on every single subject have value and enter into the frequency of the social discourse. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sometimes it’s just more noise.

The results? I participate less, learn more. And I’m happier now … and isn’t that a key goal of life: happiness?

I think it's time to schedule lunch with Mark again. Perhaps after the Big Election.

Happy voting. May you — may we all — be delighted with the outcome!

Please, do NOT leave comments of advocacy for any candidate. Thank you.