It’s impossible for me to identify with anyone who is undecided in the middle of October, who went into the debate without a clear idea of his/her preferred candidate, or who watched last night’s debate and still came away undecided. But that’s precisely what happened; as Nate Silver points out:
A CBS News/Knowledge networks poll of undecided voters who watched the debate found 37 percent giving an advantage to Mr. Obama, 30 percent favoring Mitt Romney and 33 percent calling the debate a tie.
When I watched the debate, I came away with the distinct impression that Mitt Romney has one platform plank: President Obama didn’t do enough to fix America’s economic woes. His solution, however, is utterly nonsensical. It involves lowering tax rates, extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, more military spending, no additional taxes on the middle class … and somehow a balanced budget. Whenever Romney is pressed on this issue and told that the math won’t work, he simply replies that it will work. This is like listening to someone who believes in unicorns or a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis.
That said, if you are someone who agrees with Romney’s simple assertion, then you have made up your mind. If you’re someone who agrees with Obama that Romney’s plan is just a series of impossible platitudes and that economic recovery isn’t something that just magically happens when a president waves a magic wand, then you have made up your mind. If you’d like to hear more from Romney about how his plan will work, however, you should know that you’ll be waiting forever.
Economic recovery is a slow and painful process, especially in a democratic system characterized by checks and balances and two belligerent political parties who are actively trying to make it more difficult for one or the other to get anything done; if you want it to go faster, perhaps what you want is an authoritarian governmental system.
Now, if the economy isn’t the only issue on your mind this Fall, then the choice seems just as stark.
On the question of entitlements, you either believe Romney when he says that his 47% remark doesn’t represent what he really thinks or you believe Romney when he says that 47% of the country won’t ever vote for him because they’re lazy “takers.” On the question of guns, you either agree with Romney when he says that single-parent families are largely responsible for gun violence or you believe that we might have a broader problem with guns in our society that requires a reexamination of the notion that easy access to guns makes us free and safe. On the question of women’s rights, you either agree with Obama when he says that women ought to have more control over their health and reproductive choices than the government or you agree with Romney when he says that restricting women’s choices is one of the only things the government ought to do. And then there’s the nonsense about helping women in the workplace that Romney trotted out last night in order to demonstrate … that it takes a good man to search and search and search until he finds some women to hire (who will then need to be allowed to leave work early so they can cook dinner for their families).
Anyhow, this list goes on and on and on. I won’t even mention trade with China and war with Iran.
On these issues, the differences between these candidates couldn’t be more stark. It is almost certainly the case that being undecided at this point actually means that you haven’t thought out how you feel about these issues. So, instead of worrying about who looked more presidential, whose interruptions were more impolite, or whose disagreements with the moderator about time-keeping were more annoying, perhaps you can spend some time thinking about your beliefs on equal pay, the idea that some people are “makers” and others are “takers,” women’s reproductive health, a possible war with Iran, vouchers for services upon which seniors depend, and magical tax cuts that solve all of our economic troubles.
Doing that will probably help you if you’re undecided.
[Image: Brian Snyder/Reuters] [Source]