Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

"elitist" and "judgmental" -- or not

Ian said:
About 1/3 of the electorate votes only or primarily based on issues.  2/3 are heavily swayed by image, identity, etc.  This is why Obama's doing so well, for heaven's sake.  And I'm not making up these numbers -- they're from very established research by political scientists.  Only elitist dems think logic and "the issues" determine anything.
I pointed out that he's a political junkie who spends lots of time talking about the issues with people who are elitist dems or close enough, to which he responded, "Having a HOBBY is very different than saying not only that everyone should share this HOBBY, but it's how they should VOTE!"

I asked, "If only 1/3 of the electorate votes based on issues, what the fuck is one supposed to DO to help get one's preferred candidate elected."  (And also: "P.S. Is it elitist to WANT everyone to vote based on logic and issues?")

This reminded me of something I saw on IBARW (which I was gonna post about eventually, but I have a huge link backlog).

throughadoor posted:
I recently read a livejournal post where someone appeared to self-identify as a liberal talked about how much they couldn't stand the I'm-in-love-with-Barack-I-want-him-to-be-my-boyfriend segment of his base of support. Why does this perpetuate white supremacy culture? Because, just like "Barack Obama's supporters are too over-zealous," it presupposes that there is only one correct way (the intellectual way, aka the white way) to support the political candidate of your choice. Yeah, it'd be great if every voter in America could explain their nuanced position on FISA, but this country has an incredibly low rate of voter turnout, and that's due in large part to voter suppression among marginalized populations. A large segment of the American population probably could not tell you how renewable energy tax credits work. If they decide they want to vote for Barack Obama because he's got dreamy eyes? Dude, at least they're excited about voting.
This made me uncomfortable at the time and still does -- the idea that emphasizing voting based on issues is a white privileged thing.

Back to my conversation with Ian:

me: P.S. Is it elitist to WANT everyone to vote based on logic and issues?

Ian: No!  Sounds like a good idea.  Why don't we.... hm..... like do a basic literacy test before allowing people into the voting booth???

me: That's not what I was trying to get at, and you know it.

There's a difference between (1) wanting to engage people on the issues and wanting to encourage them to care about the issues and (2) insisting that they have to prove they've thought sufficiently about the issues before they're allowed to vote.

Ian: Me and my friend [name redacted 'cause I feel weird posting it] went to Ohio to canvass for Kerry in the weekend before the election.

We're convinced the canvassing did much more harm than good -- all these 20 somethings trying to convince people logically that they were voting against their own interests.  (Many even used these exact words.)

People should vote however they want.  It's TOTALLY elitist to tell people they should vote based on X,Y or Z, or think you know what's best for them.  It's one of our big failings.

me: It's funny how much we agree sometimes.  The "everyone would vote Democrat if only they were enlightened like us; tragically they are brainwashed by the Republican propaganda machine" mentality is one of the things I so hated at Smith (and one of the things which so put me off the Left).  I remember thinking how that smacked of White Man's Burden -- though I never explicitly racialized it.  One LJer did explicitly racialize it, though -- http://throughadoor.livejournal.com/667439.html
I found it problematic (back when I first read the LJ entry a month ago), and still do, this idea that, as throughadoor put it: "it presupposes that there is only one correct way (the intellectual way, aka the white way) to support the political candidate of your choice" because yeah, I am really attached to the idea that everyone SHOULD be informed on the issues before supporting a candidate/voting, as an ideal situation to strive for, even though I'm not gonna say we should actually limit people's access to voting.


And re: an ongoing disagreement with a friend of mine, he said:
she's making the INHERENT judgment that it's a BAD thing if people base their vote not on positions, but on perceptions and narratives and feelings. [...] we're in a decision making group at HBS! There isn't one of us, not even the most hard-core economist, who thinks people make decisions based on logic even most of the time. She sees it as a PERJORATIVE that people would assume that some voters don't.

Catching up on Megan McArdle's blog later, I read her post "Rural identity politics," which echoes a lot of the arguments Ian's been making throughout this past week (as does some of this post).
Tags: ibarw, issues: race, issues: u.s. presidential race: 2008, people: h: ian

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