I have just returned from a much-needed three-day vacation in Ocean City, MD. I brought no laptop with me, because I don’t have a laptop to bring, and aside from some choppy Wi-Fi on the non-serviced smartphone I use almost exclusively for listening to music, I had no Internet access.
This meant I was completely detached from the world of politics for three days. I did not watch the Republican National Convention (though I certainly intend to; I had my DVR record it at home). I did not hear any news about the RNC. I did not read any articles about Obama or about the DNC or about Tropical Storm / Hurricane / Tropical Storm Isaac.
Being completely free of such stresses gave me my first taste of serenity in the four years that I’ve been consumed daily by politics. And I thought: So this is what it’s like to be a typical voter. For as you well know, the vast majority of Americans do not pay attention to politics until two or three months, sometimes even a few weeks, before the presidential elections. It is not for lack of ability to be in the know — who but I is ever without access to a computer? — it is simply that they do not care for politics and all the negativity that goes along with it.
Whether this general indifference is a good or bad thing is a separate discussion entirely. But how easy it is now to see why any uninformed person votes Democratic. A generally true, though not generally accepted by all, rule is that Democrats campaign with the rhetoric of emotion, making appeals to our desires, whereas Republicans campaign with the rhetoric of reality, making appeals to our sensibilities. It is a conscious choice of voters to be absent from politics nine months of the year in order to escape the arguing and live in peace.
When they tune in to the political campaigns in September, what do they see? One candidate tells them to have hope, for if you elect him, you will be taken care of, your worries will be his priorities, and the products you desire for a care-free sex life will be supplied to you at no cost by the deep-pocketed Anonymous. The other candidate tells them the harsh truth: the government and therefore the country cannot, mathematically, absolutely cannot sustain itself if it continues to be our main provider; the country as we’ve known it will be no more.
The apolitical voter who only dips his toes into the cold waters of politics for the few months before Election Day hears these two messages and thinks, “I want the first guy!”
And why wouldn’t he? He hibernates from politics to avoid all the negativity. When he wakes up, he hears from one candidate a feel-good message of (unbeknownst to him) childlike naiveté, and from the other candidate a message that we require discipline and frugality as a country.
We cannot make people enjoy politics, but we can make them realize the importance of the issues and of staying informed year round. The trick I believe we as the political junkies of the populace face is to balance the negative albeit factual news with a non-negative delivery of said news. It is a skill all conservatives should practice, including me (especially including me), and which I think would greatly increase the number of people who vote for Republicans in the future.
These were my only political thoughts during my otherwise relaxing vacation. But I’m now back, rested, and ready to dive back into the cold waters of my comfort zone: reality.