Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

How can you be undecided?

Asked by wundayatta (58367 points ) August 20th, 2012

In politics, how can you be undecided? How do you not know what you think? Have you not studied the issues yet? If so, why not? Have you not been paying attention? Is it boring? Is it a game you are playing with yourself—waiting until the last minute so it will seem like your vote really counts? Is it an expression of hatred for the political system? Is it a protest against political arguments?

What? What is going on? How is it possible to not know what you think?

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109 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I know what I think and what I wish my candidates stood for.

If those running in either major party don’t agree with me, I can be undecided about whom to vote for.

DigitalBlue's avatar

I think with issues like politics (and religion, too), people who say that they are undecided are usually just not passionate or particularly interested in politics. They probably know how they feel about some key issues, but they may not give a lot of thought to these sort of things, in general. It may be boring to them, which means that they don’t spend a lot of time deciding why they do or don’t feel a certain way.
I can’t say for sure, since I usually have a strong opinion about this sort of thing… but I think of it as me not having much of an opinion about what car is best to buy. I don’t particularly care about cars, they don’t interest me in any way… so forming a strong opinion one way or the other is probably unlikely to happen.

tom_g's avatar

Is it possible that the undecideds don’t really exist? Are people just uncomfortable expressing their thoughts about politics?

relevant (Samantha Bee on the Daily Show).

syz's avatar

I’ve never met an undecided, which makes me wonder about the obscene amount of money spent on attack ads.

Supacase's avatar

Because I don’t agree 100% with any of them. I take it all in and make a decision based on who stands closest to more of the issues that are important to me.

I’m not sure how that makes me uninterested, uniformed or (as stated in another thread) a closet Republican. Just because I don’t stand up and say “I’m a _______” doesn’t mean I don’t care. It means I make up my own mind instead of letting Fox News, NPR and the rest of the lot do it for me.

Supacase's avatar

@syz Always seemed to me they were trying to sway the undecided.

wundayatta's avatar

@Supacase when do you decide? You’re not 100% in anyone’s camp. But are you exactly 50–50? Or 45–45, with 10% not sure what you think yet? Are you learning one way or another? Are you giving yourself wiggle room to think about it? Do you suspect who you will vote for, but like the status of being up for grabs? What does it feel like to be where you are, and how do you think about it in your secret heart of hearts?

WestRiverrat's avatar

I know who I will probably vote for, but I will not make the decision final until I have to. And if someone is polling me I will tell them I am undecided whether I am or not.

sinscriven's avatar

The girls from the Discovery podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You covered this in their recent episode on whether women vote differently from men.

From their research into research, the major reasons why people are “undecided” is either a lack of political interest, ignorance of the issues, or a lukewarm attitude towards either side of the issue, especially when it comes to political figures.

The interesting tidbit in there is that when pressed for their views, Undecided women tend to significantly lean liberal than conservative.

jerv's avatar

Maybe no politician actually offers what someone wants. Some are willing to choose the lesser of two evils and pick someone who sucks slightly less, but some won’t.

iphigeneia's avatar

I’m undecided on a lot of issues that I don’t know enough about. I’ll very happily own up to that rather than guesstimate a solution.

When it comes to deciding who to vote for, I have to take a measured view of whom I trust to know the things I don’t know, and to argue the same way I do on issues I’ve developed an opinion on. The problem is, it’s tricky to find a candidate you agree with 100%, and then you have to put all the others in order of preference. Plus, with party politics you don’t always get what you elect. It’s not easy, and you can never be sure.

Lightlyseared's avatar

You think it’s easy to reduce thousands of individual issues to all A or all B? Sadly I suppose thats how most people vote which probably explains a lot…

ucme's avatar

Otherwise known as the “floating voter”, maybe they’re just afraid of commitment.

Qingu's avatar

I’ve always found that “undecided” voters are more concerned about their ego than about making the best decision for themselves and for their country.

I mean Christ. It’s really not hard to prioritize national issues and make a decision. Obviously, since your clone is not running for president, the actual candidates are not going to have positions that line up with your preferences. But one candidate undoubtably has a set of positions that line up more with your preferences than the other. And it’s really, really not that difficult to figure out which one it is.

So maybe they’re just lazy. Or maybe they don’t know what their own policy preferences are. Or maybe they just like to feel “above the fray.” Or maybe they like the attention they get from polling places and door-to-door campaigners. Who knows. One thing I do know is that it’s rarely if ever about an intellectually honest difficulty in deciding.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Undecided on what? Who to vote for? On a specific issue? On all the issues? On which issues I currently feel are the most important? This question has no context.

wundayatta's avatar

@Aethelflaed You choose. I said political indicisiveness, however you choose to interpret that. If there is a difference in all your options, please do go over them all and explain.

downtide's avatar

I am decided on individual political issues. The hard part is finding a politician who agrees with me. I am undecided until I’ve weighed up all the options and worked out which candidate is the least disfavourable.

elbanditoroso's avatar

There are some things that I just don’t care about.

For example, in my county we have two crooks, each running for County Commissioner. Both are as dirty as a dump. Our county tends to elect crooks because that’s the Georgia Way. (Three of the seven commissioners have had to resign in the last three years—two on influence peddling charges and the other on bribery…)

So I don’t really care who wins. They are all dirty.

Same with the (elected) position of State Court Judge. Same issue, basically – they are both 50 year old conservative lawyers, arguing about how conservative they are. I could care less who wins.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I doubt that undecided people are unaware of what they think. Thinking and concluding are not one and the same thing, however, so knowing what you think doesn’t mean you have answers. Some probably just don’t want to say what their conclusions are, of course, but others may be genuinely perplexed regarding complicated moral issues like abortion or the death penalty. One of the classes I teach is a bioethics course on issues like this, and plenty of the students express real concern with regard to being wrong about something so permanent.

There are also those who simply feel unfit to hold opinions on subjects they don’t understand. Many people are not very well educated in economics, for instance, and are a bit busy staying alive to take a course or two on the subject. Then there are those who are simply waiting for all the information to be in before making a final decision. They know who they would vote for if the election were today, and are probably confident that it is the same person for whom they will be voting when the time actually comes, but have made no final commitments.

Why not? Perhaps they wish to do a final review closer to election day because they realize how inexcusably dogmatic it would be to say right now that nothing which might happen tomorrow could possibly change their minds about what they will do the day after that. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. Or as Stephen Colbert said of George W. Bush: “He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday — no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change; this man’s beliefs never will.”

I don’t suppose any of us really think that is an attitude worth emulating… do we?

jerv's avatar

@Qingu Not always. Sometimes, one has to decide which issues trump others. That is especially true for people who are fiscally conservative but socially liberal. Of course, it’s easier now because one party is increasingly full of insane extremists whose positions on issues are repulsive to even many long-term party loyalists, but there are some people who still have to figure out their priorities.

YARNLADY's avatar

For me, being undecided means I haven’t found a candidate or issue that meets my requirements.

Qingu's avatar

@jerv, yeah, I don’t buy the poor fiscal conservative/socially liberal’s dilemma. The Republicans are not and have never been fiscal conservatives. Libertarians whine about government takeovers and stuff but if you argue with them they almost always concede that there needs to be some regulatory framework and state involvement for the economy to function… usually not too different from standard Democratic policy.

Then there are libertarians who are just flat-out stupid.

Ron_C's avatar

I don’t want to vote for Obama, he continued Bush’s wars and took on additional powers by using drowns as executioners to carry out his personal sentences. However, it would be impossible for me t vote for Romney and Ryan. They will use the usurped powers of Obama plus new powers to actually kill innocent people in need of medical care. It is a real dilemma but I’ll have to vote for Obama.

hug_of_war's avatar

I think that for one, all high-level politicians are corrupt to some degree. This means no matter how much they tell me about how they’ll govern, I don’t really believe them. Their hands are dirty. I don’t trust dirty hands.

Secondly, I hate the things that divide people. I hate how politics make people think it’s okay to call people ignorant or stupid just based on who they vote for. So I try to separate myself as much as possible as identifying with any group.

It is always about choosing the lesser of two evils for me. I think politics is disgusting and brings out the darkest, ugliest parts of people. I live in a swing state (ohio) and I am undecided because neither suits me. I’m not sure who suits me more though, because you can’t just tally up the issues. Some things are more important than others. I may vote for a 3rd party. But I hate the manipulation, I won’t watch the commercials, and that means it can take me longer to find what I perceive to be what the candidate will actually do once in office.

Sunny2's avatar

I think you can translate “undecided” as “I’m not about to tell you, Buster! It’s none of your damn business.”

mrrich724's avatar

I can’t speak for everyone else, but when I am undecided on an issue it’s because I have heard statements from both sides of the argument, that to me all sound fair and reasonable.

That or because I don’t trust either side, feeling like it’s all lies and politics, using data to spin the truth, and don’t feel like I necessarily have the resources at my disposal to learn the truth.

It seems to me quite easy for a reasonable person to be undecided about many issues because one doesn’t want to simply consume the marketing and doublespeak of either party on any particular issue.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@wundayatta I know who I’m voting for, but if my choices were Michelle Bachmann or Rick Santorum, I’d be undecided. Same if it was Ben Nelson vs Mass. Gov. Romney (as opposed to current Romney). I’ll vote on abortion rights alone, but only if I have reason to believe abortion rights are under threat; if they aren’t, I’ll vote more on traditional economics and foreign policy. I can actually see a lot of moderate conservatives trying to decide if Obama is a liberal, or a moderate conservative, and if their party has swung to the batshit crazy where they want to vote for this specific Democrat. Same for conservative gays, and conservative women.

mrrich724's avatar

@Aethelflaed GA. The fact that you don’t focus on a ‘talking point’ when you know that they aren’t under threat (which really makes it a moot point) is a great strategy to consider!

wundayatta's avatar

I can see being unable to tell how Bachmann and Santorum are any different. However, if those were the choices, then I’d probably be able to find differences pretty quickly. In any case, if I had to choose between the two, I might be tempted not to vote. Who is the least worst, I wonder? Probably Santorum. He seems just a twee bit less crazy.

Qingu's avatar

@hug_of_war, I’ll be frank. I don’t buy it.

I don’t think you’ve done the work.

Maybe I’m wrong. What issues do you care about? What about Romney and Obama’s positions, records and personalities are you conflicted about, exactly?

Qingu's avatar

@mrrich724, polticians lie, it’s true.

Fortunately there are numerous fact-checking organizations who have spent years holding pols accountable and tracking their records and accomplishments.

I’ll say it again, throwing up your hands and saying they’re all bad is just an act of laziness.

SavoirFaire's avatar

It’s also worth noting that if you really can’t bring yourself to vote for either President Obama or Mitt Romney, there’s still Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. So anyone throwing their hands up because they don’t like the mainstream candidates is giving up prematurely.

jerv's avatar

@SavoirFaire Sadly, they don’t have the huge advertising budgets that the major candidates, so many don’t even know their names. Many of those who do feel that third-party votes are wasted votes, in part because they know that many other people either don’t know of alternatives to the two major parties.

woodcutter's avatar

It’s like deciding which used car salesman is the least dishonest. Neither one actually knows anything about a particular auto but they will pump the thing like its the best deal you’re gonna get while at the same time insulting your intelligence in a polite way. They have a non answer -answer for anything you put to them. If you are the type that just has to have that particular model even though you know there’s shit wrong with it, you’re gonna buy it and feel proud of your decision regardless.
If you hate kicking yourself for making a bad choice because there weren’t many choices to begin with you feel undecided.

Being undecided is NOT being lazy. It’s being careful. IF YOU ARE AN IDEALOGUE…you just might be a little lazy. An ideologue will NEVER vote for anyone on the other ticket no matter what. Now… you tell me, how much thought really goes into that decision. Ideologues hate thinking people who ponder. They want them to be on board with them now. You are either with them all the way, or you are shit. Being undecided means you are thinking before you make your choice. That doesn’t mean you make the right choice in the end but at least you gave it some thought. How many voted for Obama last time without even thinking and later regretted it? Or at the very least felt let down? Or after that feeling came, the grown up realization that it’s all a big gamble based on some information that may have been contrived or possibly outright lies? What… you mean the voters are sometimes mislead? How dare they?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@jerv Indeed, but those who are going to abstain from voting for both Obama and Romney have no excuse. If they are really that opposed to the mainstream candidates, they should be looking for alternatives. And it’s a lot harder to say that voting for a third party is wasting your vote when your default plan is to vote for no one. One still might look at all of the candidates and decide against voting for any of them, of course, but it simply won’t do to abstain merely because one doesn’t like either mainstream candidate.

woodcutter's avatar

It doesn’t matter who is in the White House. All that is…is a puppet / mascot position. The real power is in congress as well as the local seats.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@woodcutter In which case the same argument can be run against people considering how to vote in congressional and local elections.

woodcutter's avatar

@SavoirFaire At least in the local contests there is a better chance of actually believing they are real people because there is a possibility you’ve met them or corresponded with them at some point. All politics is local. Which argument do you mean?

Aethelflaed's avatar

@woodcutter When you say “real people”... do you mean like, as opposed to those of us who look like humans, but are secretly made up of peach crisp?

woodcutter's avatar

@Aethelflaed Real people: possibly more home oriented who don’t have 200 member entourages who form a protective ring of inaccessibility. They don’t have “handlers” to protect them from themselves thus are are out there warts and all.

you really look like a human? Pics or it ain’t so.

What is a peach crisp? I so want to try one now

Aethelflaed's avatar

Even local politicians have handlers and press people.

A peach crisp is basically a peach cobbler, but cobbler crusts are a bit more solid and sturdy, whereas crisps add in oatmeal and are more flaky and crumbly and obviously more delicious.

woodcutter's avatar

I can contact my representatives and actually get a signed letter back from them. I haven’t tried to contact the president. Even if I did, and got a reply, I bet it would not have been composed by him just set in front of him while he’s busy signing all kinds of other shit. The president doesn’t come to my state in August like my (and your )reps do.

woodcutter's avatar

@Aethelflaed Damn -you sound tasty

jerv's avatar

@SavoirFaire You assume people are rational and logical. The existence of the Tea Party and the fact that anybody is even thinking of voting Republican in this election is proof that they are not

Qingu's avatar

@woodcutter, why don’t you tell us what you think Barack Obama has been dishonest about. Be specific, please.

jerv's avatar

@woodcutter Now you understand the problems of scalability. Note that, in many parts l of the world, the word “state” has a different meaning, making us more akin to a coalition than an actual country. Between the fact that there are fifty sovereign nations, those fifty nations that form an alleged country form the third most populated country on Earth, and that getting the states to act in a manner that even approaches a liberal definition of unity, sheer scale makes it difficult for any government official above the local level to be very personal. Even the local representatives where I live now represent more people than my congressman back in NH did, so I get less personal treatment from the City Council here than I am used to from a Senator. Think about that for a moment.

Also, suppose you ruled over a territory (city district, congressional district, nation, what-have-you) that was so sharply divided that you couldn’t even inhale without one side or the other telling you you’re doing it wrong. Odds are that either you’d be too busy trying to keep the two sides from killing each other, trying to find the best way to satisfy the largest number of your constituents, probably pissing one faction off in the process anyways, or so aloof that both sides hate you. How much time would that leave you for personal letter-writing, assuming that there were at least 50,000 voices all wanting your ear?

wundayatta's avatar

Actually, the President has an awful lot of power. He can make enormous changes simply by signing executive orders. And since Congress doesn’t take much action these days, most of what gets done in government is done through executive order.

The other power the president has is the power of appointment. Unfortunately, Congress isn’t approving any of the president’s appointments, but I do believe he has the power to make temporary appointments while Congress sits there picking its collective nose. Does anyone know about the power for temporary appointments? I’m not sure about that.

Qingu's avatar

Executive orders don’t do much for domestic policy. They can’t do anything with fiscal policy (taxing and spending) which are the only levers available to help the economy right now.

It is a fair criticism of Obama that he should have been more aggressive in his appointments. Apparnetly he actually believed his own post-partisan BS and wanted to avoid the highly partisan appointments of the Bush administration and avoid recess appointments.

wundayatta's avatar

I think they can do more than you give them credit for. You can issue orders that change how laws are enforced, and that redirect spending from one place to another within a given department’s budget. Didn’t he stop enforcing some immigration laws? I don’t remember the details, but this kind of thing can make a bigger difference than you credit, @Qingu.

True, can’t change overall budgets. But can switch things around within budgets.

In my state, the governor is doing this. He just failed to renew General Assistance spending. The money was there. He chose not to use it. He is attacking poor people and will presumably find a budget surplus to fund some kind of tax cut in the end. It’s sickening. But the executive does have power and it is power that can significantly affect people’s lives.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@woodcutter The third party argument. I was just noting that if we came across anyone who said “I can’t vote for either of the [mainstream] congressional/local candidates,” we could again point them to third party candidates. Just a minor point.

@jerv A person is rational, people are not. I think we could convince frustrated individuals who are genuinely prepared to skip the top line of the ballot to look at other options even if their group behavior seems to defy reason. I’m not saying that a third party candidate really is the best option; I’m just saying they should be far more viable among the “never voting for Obama or Romney” crowd.

jerv's avatar

@SavoirFaire Pretty much. Group psychology is an interesting thing.

woodcutter's avatar

@Qingu I didn’t say he was dishonest directly. I fault him for not taking advantage of two (2) years of a full house, or as full as it gets with any sitting president. All this hopey changy BS he was spouting during the campaign got people buzzing. He would never use lobbyists or have clandestine meetings with his contemporaries shutting out the minority(something he bitched about the other side doing) He allowed his justice dept to run amock by not insisting he stay in the loop with their activities notably the careless shipping 1000’s of weapons to a sovereign nation without their knowledge hoping to prove there were gun runners active there? They needed that to find this out? I think even you knew the drug organizations were running and utilizing weapons. How blind can one intentionally make themselves to look the other way especially after the inside whistle blowing and cover ups and ignored subpoenas to turn over documents to find out who knew what and when did they know about it. Sorry but using the excuse that its an ongoing investigation to not cooperate with congress is so lame, then top it all off with an executive order stopping the disclosures. Executive order, huh? There’s something rotten here and you know damn well if this fuck up (100’s of dead people) had gone down during Bush II there would be a Pelosi shitstorm from hell and you would be outraged. Before you counter by saying “Bush did the same thing” let me remind you that operation “Wide Receiver” during Bush was done with the Mexican govt involvement and the weapons were being tracked and to the best of my knowledge not one person died. That operation was stopped by the Mexican govt. I think it would be a safe bet they pulled the plug when it was starting to become clear some of those illegal weapons were from the Mexicans themselves. Or ,sources not in the US just like they are right now….like a few hours ago. I want to know if Obama knew, and so do you way deep down . If he wasn’t involved then hand over the documents and if he was unaware then that will be that. Although you’d almost have to wonder why he would not know what his own justice dept was up to. Holder knew, and that means Obama did too. Those two are joined at the hip since way back.

Two US border Patrol and Over 200 dead Mexicans and counting should really piss you off. Does me.

Qingu's avatar

“I fault him for not taking advantage of two (2) years of a full house, or as full as it gets with any sitting president.”
He passed the most sweeping health care legislation in history. He passed the most important financial reform since the Great Depression. By the way, the house was not all that “full”—Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson are basically conservatives.

“He would never use lobbyists or have clandestine meetings with his contemporaries shutting out the minority”
But he’s made more progress in this regard than any other president in recent history. Sometimes ideals are impossible to uphold perfectly, and he also campaigned as a pragmatist.

“He allowed his justice dept to run amock by not insisting he stay in the loop with their activities notably the careless shipping 1000’s of weapons to a sovereign nation without their knowledge hoping to prove there were gun runners active there?”
You’re misinformed about the nature and responsibility of Fast and Furious. Much of it didn’t even occur under Holder; much of it was directly the result of insanely loose gun lobby laws that limit federal power over how to track guns; and if Holder is guilty of anything it’s preserving the privacy of his administration’s internal deliberations, which is something that reasonable people can disagree about.

“There’s something rotten here ”
And you are so certain why? If there was something rotten here, don’t you think hyper-partisan Darrel Issa would have, you know, found it? As opposed to saying that the White House is not at fault?

I see that the majority of your rant is about Fast and Furious. Again, something which the Republican congress has declared Barack Obama is not at fault over, and which Holder did not actually oversee.

By the way, you originally said you were undecided because “it’s like trying to decide which car salesman is the least dishonest.” You haven’t actually shown what you think Obama is dishonest about. And your three points of contention about Obama are demonstrably misinformed.

Is there some other reason you are unable to decide whose policies you prefer, and which candidate you feel has a more honorable personality? Again, a 400-word rant about Fast and Furious doesn’t really answer this question.

Qingu's avatar

I also feel like I shortchanged Obama’s legislative accomplishments in my post above. He passed the Lilly Ledbetter act, which ensures equal pay for women. He repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The New Start treaty is a huge step towards nuclear nonproliferation and resetting cold war tensions.

And the stimulus bill not only succeeded in putting millions of Americans to work, it did a huge number of things to set America on a more sustainable path regarding energy and education. It was 50% bigger than the New Deal in inflation-adjusted dollars. It helps extend broadband to rural communities. It incentivizes wind, solar, and battery research, which is already having results. It funds rail projects (which would have been even more successful if Republican governors didn’t torpedo them). And it financed a ton of mundane infrastructure improvements that were both necessary and helpful for counterbalancing the demand slump. source

But I can see how you’d have trouble deciding between him and Romney, the candidate who has said he literally wants to do none of these things and will work towards repeal many of them.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Qingu Well, the Lily Ledbetter Act doesn’t really ensure equal pay for women, so much as extend the amount of time people have to sue for gender discrimination in their pay. And I’m a big fan of the Act, but there’ll still be tons of discrimination so long as people are biased.

Qingu's avatar

Fair ‘nuff. Still a pretty significant piece of legislation, though.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I would agree!

woodcutter's avatar

Has anyone here actually been able to take advantage of anything Obama has supposedly accomplished?

WestRiverrat's avatar

@woodcutter Berkeley got some cheap pieces of art from the Solyndra bankruptcy.

jerv's avatar

@woodcutter As the economy hasn’t totally crashed like it was in the middle of doing when he took office, I think most people have. Sometimes benefit is merely a lack of detriment.

augustlan's avatar

@woodcutter I, personally, have. For the first time in years I have health insurance. That is as a direct result of ‘Obamacare’. Prior to that, I was unable to obtain health insurance, at any cost, because of my pre-existing conditions. I was flat-out rejected by every insurance company out there.

In addition to that, my husband has been unemployed for over a year at this point. If Obama hadn’t extended unemployment benefits, we might have been homeless by now.

woodcutter's avatar

@augustlan You actually have real health insurance? That was a result of Obama care? Because I thought none of that was really going to kick in until 2014 or some such time? I don’t have squat from that yet, still paying cash for everything,or I don’t get it. I’ve predicted this already on here. That Obamacare deal will be so watered down by the time it is implemented it won’t be worth a tinkers damn.

@jerv But wasn’t TARP a Bush deal? Not that I liked Bush at all but help me out here.

@WestRiverrat Oh you are bad lol.

woodcutter's avatar

@augustlan Holy buttfuck Batman!! I just looked there for my state. I might as well stay where I am paying cash. Super high deductible and 12 month waiting period for pre existing . From 120 to 700 a month. They gotta do better.

augustlan's avatar

I’m a little confused, @woodcutter… Are you saying that the PCIP has a high deductible and a waiting period? Because there’s definitely no waiting period. Or are you saying you currently have health insurance with a high deductible and a waiting period? How much does it cost per month?

For those of us with chronic, life-threatening conditions, PCIP is a life saver. Potentially a literal life saver. I can now get my testing done every 6 months (as recommended), instead of having to scrimp and save to pay for it myself, which resulted in only getting it done every two years. Timely testing is a huge deal in being able to stay on top of my health issues. PCIP costs me $248 dollars a month, and since just one of the many prescription drugs I must take costs almost $300 a month, that alone makes it worthwhile. Even while I still have to meet a deductible, my cost for this drug is now only $50/month, and all my other meds are considerably cheaper, too. And all routine preventative care is covered right from the get-go… no deductible. My recent doctor’s visit and slew of testing would have cost me over $2000.00. PCIP paid every cent of it.

Ron_C's avatar

Obama’s big mistake was believing that congress would work for the good of the people. It took two years to disabuse him of that belief. That being said he got an amazing amount of work done despite of the house majority’s sole goal of ruining his presidency.

The strangest part is that most Americans recognize the “do nothing”, “know nothing” congress but will re-elect their representative. Americans have to be the dumbest people alive. I’m surprised the country didn’t fall apart years ago.

Qingu's avatar

@woodcutter “Has anyone here actually been able to take advantage of anything Obama has supposedly accomplished?”

I got a tax cut. You almost certainly did, too.

I work in educational publishing. Increased school funding through Obama’s stimulus helped ensure I had a job.

I have friends who have health insurance because of Obama (on their parents), and who will be able to afford health insurance for their chronic disease thanks to ACA.

But many of Obama’s legislative achievements don’t directly benefit me. They’ve served to ensure financial and economic stability. They’ve helped to make society fairer, and benefit people a lot less fortunate than me.

Why do you ask?

woodcutter's avatar

@Qingu I asked because I wanted to know.
If I got a tax cut it must have flown right past me. Didn’t notice any change. A tax cut should be noticeable to be able to talk about it.
@augustlan Here’s what I found if I understood it all…. The State Pool, in contrast, must impose a 12-month preexisting condition exclusion waiting period on new enrollees who did not have creditable coverage in place during the six months prior to enrollment. This state pool exclusion period is fully waived if the enrollee had creditable coverage in place during the six months prior to enrollment.

Premiums

An enrollee in the Oklahoma Temporary High Risk Pool will pay a premium rate equal to standard market rates. The premium rates for the Oklahoma Temporary High Risk Pool will be significantly less than Oklahoma law requires for the state pool. Ok is a state not federal system so…..

I’m not seein it

Qingu's avatar

@woodcutter, unless you’re rich (or unemployed), you did receive a tax cut.

And it’s funny that you should say that. Because the tax cuts in the stimulus bill were designed so that people wouldn’t notice them. The economists thought that would make it more likely that people would spend the extra money rather than save it. The economic purpose of the tax cut was to stimulate demand. source

Qingu's avatar

@Ron_C, it sure would be nice if people stopped painting “Congress” with a broad brush.

Congress is not a monolithic entity. There are congresspeople who work for the good of the people. There are congresspeople who think they are working for the good of the people but are actually just cultists. There are also congresspeople who are just corrupt.

It’s lazy to just say “Congress bad!” It just means you haven’t bothered to spend time distinguishing the good public servants from the bad. Like people who think it’s somehow the epitome of wisdom to say that all lawyers are liars, or all businesspeople are greedy.

woodcutter's avatar

@Qingu No not rich, not unemployed. Self employed sort of unreachable. You see, our position is such that it really does not matter who is in the oval office.

Because the tax cuts in the stimulus bill were designed so that people wouldn’t notice them. The “economists thought” that would make it more likely that people would spend the extra money rather than save it. The economic purpose of the tax cut was to stimulate demand. this is a joke,,right? The “economists thought”. Let’s just think about that one, right there. They thought if people felt no better off than before, they would just run out and shop till they drop out of shear joy of having virtually nothing extra? Real responsible people do not do that unless….it was hoped they would just put it all on plastic. Which is sort of how people get ass deep in misery. Charge it? Really? All that does is just put shit off for 90 days and then what? In real life people spend en-masse when they feel good meaning when they feel economically better, richer, more confident. Sneaking a few pennies into their weekly paychecks won’t do that. And this has been tried before by Bush #1? Didn’t work for him either.

I think everyone here right now wants to know who these economists were. Because they did things pretty much the same way Wall Street did. “Wall St. thought” Dude I can’t believe you put that up there, for real.

Are these same economists who ever they are…are they still being taken seriously now? Let’s hope not.

jerv's avatar

@woodcutter No intelligent person takes economists seriously. Many Americans do.

augustlan's avatar

@woodcutter If you had coverage or have proof of being denied coverage, there’s no waiting period. I had plenty of proof of denied coverage.

Qingu's avatar

“You see, our position is such that it really does not matter who is in the oval office.”

Do you make less than 200k/250k-household a year? Then you received a tax cut. That’s the bottom line.

And unless your position is one of a lot of inherited wealth, it does matter a great deal who is in the oval office. The president’s economic policies effect the economy that affects your job, and the jobs of people around you. The president’s foreign policy effects the price of oil, which affects your job. Not to mention greater society, global political and financial stability, human rights.

Really, if you’re trying to argue that you only care who is in the oval office depending on whether or not you notice a tax cut they give you, I find that pretty appalling and small-minded.

“I think everyone here right now wants to know who these economists were.”
Larry Summers, former dean of Harvard, is chief among them; so is Christina Romer, professor at Berkely. Obama’s economic advisors are all easy to Google, if you’re actually interested.

The idea comes from a strain of economics called behavioral economics, which is based on the idea that people are often not rational actors but make decisions on the margins (such as whether or not to splurge slightly with extra paycheck money). And no, these economists did not do things “pretty much the same way Wall Street did”—many of them are professors that have nothing to do with Wall Street.

“Dude I can’t believe you put that up there, for real.”

That’s because you’re ignorant of macro-economics. You’re ignorant of the need to stimulate demand in a post-financial crisis recession marked by a liquidity trap. And by the way, it did work. Spending went up, job losses stopped, and we went out of recession. We still have a huge hole to fill, obviously, but the stimulus worked.

You literally know nothing about this subject, based on what you’ve just wrote—and yet here you are, making confident pronouncements about it. Just like you know almost nothing about Obama’s record, his legislative accomplishments, and how they affect you personally and people around you—and yet you have made confident pronouncements about how he’s done nothing and is little different from Romney.

This just goes to show that your “undecided” stance isn’t really about weighing the candidates and learning about their positions and records. It’s just about your ego.

Qingu's avatar

@jerv, there are a lot of economists who are shills for business and political interests, it’s true.

It’s also true that knowledge of economics is a vital tool in public policy. Economists have discovered a number of useful patterns in how the economy works and how people make economic decisions. In particular, the standard Keynesian macro-economics has predicted most of what has happened to the global economy since 2008: we are in a liquidity trap with depressed demand (much like the Great Depression) and monetary policy is useless because interest rates are already at effectively zero.

To dismiss this knowledge out of hand strikes me as Know-Nothingism.

Qingu's avatar

I want to say more about the economics issue, because when I say you’re ignorant, @woodcutter, I don’t mean that you’re stupid. Our economic situation is not at all intuitive. Part of the problem is that people often compare the American economy to a family household, but a large economy is really nothing like a household.

The basic problem is that, in a large economy, my income is your spending. If nobody spends money—including the government—then nobody has income. Businesses don’t hire workers. Workers don’t get paid as much. Then even less money is spent, making the situation worse. It’s a vicious cycle. And it’s why the economy was in free-fall in 2008.

The point of the stimulus bill was to “jolt” the demand side to stop the freefall. Government would suddenly spend a lot of money on state aid and infrastructure. And tax cuts would encourage private citizens to spend money. If people just saved the money instead of spending it, it doesn’t get pumped into the economy, and it doesn’t stimulate demand.

Once again, the goal of this legislation was to stop the economic freefall by stimulating demand Now, you said that Bush tried to do this before. Well, yes and no. Yes, he gave people large tax cuts. But:

• The economic situation was not remotely the same. We were not in a depressed demand spiral. We were not in a liquidity trap, where credit was frozen.

• Bush’s tax cuts appeared as large lump sums. Behavioral economics research shows that when people receive a large sum like this, they are much more likely to just save it rather than spend it. This is exactly why the stimulus tax cut appeared “under the radar” like it did.

Now, you make a value judgment on people acting “responsibly” and saying they should save instead of spending their tax cut money. But think about it. What happens if everyone just saves money? What happens if nobody spends? See above. Then we are still in a vicious cycle. Even more people start losing their jobs, drown in debt, etc. What is rational and responsible for an individual or household is often not the correct course of action for the national economy. This is a basic insight of economics, and not one to be dismissed lightly.

woodcutter's avatar

@Qingu So, did you go out and buy anything new since then?

Qingu's avatar

What point do you think you are trying to make by asking that question?

woodcutter's avatar

@Qingu These economists….See this is what I mean when I say there are some people who are so smart, they’re stupid. Sort of my jab at college educated people who think they are all that. They use all this well intentioned data that should work because it is logical and that means its correct. But they don’t take into account what the common person will do. And that is what every country has living there- common people.You have to work with what you know you have. They who refuse to do that will lose, pretty much every time. Now you in all your infinite wisdom will say it’s all the people’s fault because they are so common, they’re stupid and aren’t doing right because the data says so. What good is all that data if it fails to take into account the psychology of real people? It’s awful smug and some may even say stylish to just blame stupid people. Or Bush did it so that provides cover for any shortcomings. The person who steps up to take on the biggest job in the world doesn’t get to complain his predecessor was wrong, or he’s not getting enough cooperation from his colleagues. Wahh. People who work at Burger King get to do that…or do they? Obama got in over his head too early in life. He probably would have made a better president if he had been a senator a few terms but instead he wanted to take the big bite and use gimmicks to get the job.( He’s an excellent orator and he’s….black) Nobody would have voted for a white Obama. Call that racist I don’t care but you know it’s the truth. I don’t do the politically correct dance just to stay safe.
So do you think his economic plan is working….well enough? Or are you just going to say it’s everyone else’s fault because they are all idiots? It must feel awful good, you, sitting up there on your high horse judging people and dismissing them as stupid. You are going to be lonely some day because you are bound to be the only smart person in the world soon.

are you going to reply to this and use that word….demonstrably?

Qingu's avatar

“But they don’t take into account what the common person will do.”

Actually, this is exactly what behavioral economists study and take into account.

You simply do not know what you are talking about.

Then you start ranting about Obama’s race. “Nobody would have voted for a white Obama.”

Do you actually believe this? Do you actually think that many voters didn’t simply prefer Obama’s policies over McCain’s?

I think you’re projecting your own ignorance on the rest of the country. You don’t know, or care, about actual policies. So other people must not, either.

I mean, let’s review this conversation.

• You say you’re undecided because all politicians are dishonest. I then asked you to explain how Obama is dishonest, and you couldn’t.

• You say Obama hasn’t accomplished anything. We all then pointed out his numerous accomplishments.

• Then you say his accomplishments don’t affect anyone. We all explain how they do.

• Then you say you simply didn’t notice that his tax cut affected you. I then explained that this was by design, and I explained the economic rationale for it.

Now you’re saying that, based on your non-existent economic knowledge, Obama’s economic rationale for tax cuts is dumb, and Obama only won because he’s black anyway. Congratulations, @woodcutter, you’ve demonstrated the mind of the “undecided” voter better than I ever could.

woodcutter's avatar

Did I say his tax cuts were dumb? No you said I said that. all I meant to say is they really haven’t done much. Did you spend more in the last couple years to take advantage of it? because it’s looking like most people haven’t.

Did you take advantage of the cash for clunkers deal?

I gotta go to work now, bye

Qingu's avatar

It’s “looking”? What economic indicators are you looking at to make that judgment, @woodcutter?

And in the grand scheme of things, actually, I agree with you. Tax cuts are not the most effective form of stimulus. Part of the reason is that many people today have massive debt and underwater mortgages. So if you give them tax cuts they’ll plow that money into paying off debt. But there’s no way to avoid that.

The most effective stimulus is, I think, aid to states so that they don’t have to lay off so many teachers and other public employees. (Public job losses are the reason why we are digging out of this hole so slowly). It was part of the stimulus too. It worked. And Obama and Democrats want to do more of it. But Republicans block it. So when you ask me if Obama’s economic plan is working, my response is it worked when it was actually put into action. But now that plan is blocked by Republicans, so it’s a pointless question to ask.

What economic plan would you support, @woodcutter? Do you support Romney’s plan over Obama’s? Do you know what they are?

jerv's avatar

@Qingu I won’t deny that, but when you great enough contradictory stuff, you have to decide which side is right, and that means that you also hear enough that is wrong that any rational person would probably wind up growing skeptical.

And yes, certain things don’t scale. However, many people have a too-limited scope of vision to know that intuitively. Sometimes not even analytically.

WestRiverrat's avatar

My increased fuel and energy costs have more than sucked up the little bit of a tax break Obama ‘gave’ us.

Qingu's avatar

@WestRiverrat, I’m sure you’ll find some way to blame Obama for those. But why the scare quotes around “gave”?

WestRiverrat's avatar

@Qingu not hard at all in Feb 2009 Obama’s EPA revoked the permit for the new power plant that was issued in Sept of 2008. The power plant was intended to replace an older plant with a new more efficient and cleaner plant.

The old plant is still closing so now the power has to be purchased from elsewhere for higher cost. The oil refinery that was approved for this area is also now on hold due to the EPA not accepting the report that was initially approved by them.

jerv's avatar

And gas prices never rose under W :/

Qingu's avatar

@WestRiverrat, so this one power plant (by the way, do you have a source?) and this one refinery have contributed to the global increase in fuel costs?

Not, you know, burgeoning demand from China and India?

By the way, Obama has largely continued Bush’s policies on domestic drilling; hydraulic fracturing has hugely increased the domestic natural gas supply under Obama, and altogether, in the modern era at least, we have never been closer towards energy independence than we are today.

This shouldn’t surprise you, but I think you’re full of crap.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I don’t worry about the world fuel costs, I just worry about my own. If I don’t have any more money in my pocket after paying for necessities, I don’t go on a spending spree.

Even with Obama’s tax cuts, if people don’t have more money in my pocket, how do you expect them to feel good spending more?

Qingu's avatar

Unless you are asserting that Obama has magical control over global energy demand and costs, I utterly fail to see what your point is.

The fact that tax cuts do not offset the decreased spending from rising fuel costs for some people doesn’t mean that tax cuts do not increase spending. If there were no tax cuts, people would have even less money to spend because there would be nothing to offset rising fuel costs.

Have you even thought your argument through?

jerv's avatar

@WestRiverrat First off, we are part of the world. Maybe you think America is it’s own planet but we aren’t. The global economy affects our economy, and if your scope of vision is too limited to see that then maybe you are not ready for adulthood.

As for the tax cuts, blame employers. Record profits for companies, record salaries for management, yet most people have not gotten their share of the prosperity. Of course, if government tries to enrich the masses at the expense of the elite, Republicans raise a big stink and do their best to not only subjugate the masses so that the elite can quadruple their wealth instead of merely tripling it, but then try to destroy whoever has the audacity to put the blame where they feel it belongs; gays, minorities, Liberals, and people smart enough to know that rape can lead to pregnancy.

But we can’t stop you from blaming Obama for everything from gas prices to tooth decay, so keep on being delusional, and don’t be surprised when you weren’t taken seriously.

wundayatta's avatar

I wonder if educational attainment is related to undecidedness.

jerv's avatar

@wundayatta Hard to say, and here is why; there are many idiots who managed to fund their way to a degree without actually learning anything, and many like myself who are at of least above-average intellect who never advanced beyond High School. If I felt there were more of a connection between academic performance and actual knowledge, it would probably be easier to gauge, but some of the greatest minds in history have had bad grades, dropped out, or been kicked out of school.

I think you’ve seen those “studies” that “proved” that states with a higher average IQ tend to vote Democrat while those whose schools systems are failing tend to vote Republican though.

Ron_C's avatar

@Qingu “it sure would be nice if people stopped painting “Congress” with a broad brush” When a group that is so important and the majority act for themselves and their party, how else can it be painted. The leader of the Republican house said that his main goal is to insure that Obama is a one term president. He mentions and cares nothing about unemployment, or climate change, or health care only revenge against a black president. I’ve followed politics since the 50 and never heard a congressmember talk like that about the president. We don’‘t need a broad brush, we need a scum scraper.

woodcutter's avatar

I am undecided because I am an American and that means I can be. I just heard Piers Morgan on CNN quote a tweet or whatever they call texts these days from Tom Arnold. 5% of the left are crazy and 5% of the right are crazy but the two get the most attention because they are the loudest and so that gives the impression that is what the parties are about.end quote I think @Qingu is in the 1st camp.

If Obama is elected he’s better get something tangible done in those first two years or we are so looking at a lame duck prez for the next two. I don’t believe the congressional make up is going to change enough to make much difference
Clinton got credit for welfare reform not because he was all that for it. He completely lost any hope and leverage in congress and got bent over by the rightand forced his hand.

Same thing is going to happen to Barry after the mid terms and he will bent over for the “Lords of wealth” and give them what they want. Because they are sitting on record numbers of cash and are currently taking their families on lavish vacations to exotic places and they aren’t hurting a bit. They can mark time until hell freezes over and not hire or invest. Not saying its right, but that’s reality.

I’m not totally for against either side right now but honestly folks, so far these so called accomplishments to date…aren’t they really something any mediocre president could have done?

augustlan's avatar

@woodcutter Do you really think just any mediocre president could have gotten health care reform done? It’s been tried by pretty great people in the past, and failed miserably.

woodcutter's avatar

Stop praising the health care crap. It has not helped enough people compared to the number of people who would have been better served by lowering the unemployment rate in those first two years.They sucked up all the fight in those two years and still couldn’t get single payer. Instead they get this little” pimple on the ass” of what usable health care should be. I’m happy that some feel they are being helped but…..it’s not good enough.

jerv's avatar

Considering how many things were blocked because they didn’t require further concessions, sometimes on unrelated issues, the fact that Congress has managed anything at all despite obstructionism (mostly from the Right) is a fucking miracle. Even things that eventually passed unanimously were held hostage by radicals.

You are correct that it’s not enough, but sufficient measures cannot and will not be enacted unless and until we get a GOP that actually wants what is best for the Republic instead of what is best for their cronies.

Qingu's avatar

@woodcutter, you’re undecided because you’re an American and you can be?

In other words, you’re undecided for no reason whatsoever?

And when challenged on your position, you respond by showing that you know practically nothing about policy or the laws in question?

I mean, do you realize how completely stupid you sound when you criticize Obama for not achieving single-payer health insurance… as justification for being undecided between Obama and the GOP, the party that wants to abolish any government involvement in health insurance?

It’s like you’re at a restaurant with two food options, a chicken breast and a platter of shit with pieces of broken glass—and you’re having trouble deciding between the two options because the last time you ordered the chicken breast here, it was dry.*

But look at you. Above the fray. And that’s your right as an American!

* I stole this line from something but I forgot what.

wundayatta's avatar

And it is unfair to criticize the health care reform act because most of the major provisions don’t kick in until 2014. It takes a long time to change something as big as the health care system, just as it takes a long time to change the economy. Yet people act as if because it hasn’t happened in three years we should change course. We haven’t even gotten started on the course.

But that’s how it is in politics, fair or not. Therefore, we have ridiculous political campaigns. It seems to me that only the undecideds don’t understand how long change takes, and thus they are confused and undecided. They also don’t understand how difficult it is to make change when Congress is against you. So Obama is not in control of very much, and yet people act as if he is.

Again, this is reality, even if it isn’t fair, so I’m not complaining. Just explaining. Anyone with an ideological axe to bear will not be persuaded for one second by this idea. For them, Obama was either right or wrong the whole way along.

But for a few undecideds, I suppose understanding the difficulties and realities of the current political situation might persuade them to go one way or the other. I’m not at all sure of that, though.

jerv's avatar

@wundayatta Bear in mind that Obama was getting blamed for not fixing the economy—(or for actually causing it’s meltdown before he was even inaugurated. That should tell you something.

wundayatta's avatar

Of course,, @jerv. This is what my tune is these days. It’s ideological. It is not fact based. It is not based on reasoned arguments. It is based on propaganda. Fine. That’s the way the game is played. That’s why we don’t have decent TV ads and that’s why the truth is so compromised. It is the way it is, and there are good reasons for it being this way: i.e., it works.

We can’t fight it. We can only be as smart as possible about it and use it to support what we believe to be truth and righteousness and a good economy and all that.

woodcutter's avatar

I really get a charge out of they who say independents are “above the fray” ,or “lazy” That’s because really stupid comments like that make me laugh, and laughing feels good. All pompous asses are funny. I would argue that it is the ideologue who stays “above the fray” because they really don’t have to think much, they already think they know what the outcome of the story will be.
I like to stay to the end because “I” have the time to do so. I want to see the thing through. Whats the big fuckin rush? Who knows what might happen? Maybe I don’t want anyone to know what I’m thinking. The whole thing’s a crap shoot anyway so why not have a little fun with it? I think people who demand others make up their minds quickly (preferably to their liking) ,would be very dangerous if ever in any position of power.

wundayatta's avatar

@woodcutter You make a good point about not divulging your opinion to someone. It’s a secret ballot, and anything we say out here doesn’t mean squat when we enter the ballot booth. I think the pressure of constant polling makes us think that we have to decide or that we owe a decision to someone else, which we don’t.

The fray—well, I don’t see partisans as above the fray. It seems to me that partisans are deeply involved in the fray because they care so much.

The information is out there. There is no reason to be undecided where the partisans are so different. Maybe if the two were closer to each other, it might make sense to be uncertain. But the difference between Obama and Romney are so stark, it’s like night and day.

So I could see someone saying they won’t tell. But that’s different from being undecided. That’s just saying you won’t share your opinion. Good on you if that’s what you want to do. But if you are truly undecided, I have to wonder if you have been paying attention, because I don’t understand how you could be undecided on candidates who are so completely different.

A lot of people used to say it didn’t matter, but I haven’t heard that much in this election. So maybe it is clear to most people how different the candidates are. It does matter. The differences are stark. To be genuinely undecided shows, to me, a lack of clarity on your own thinking that I can’t begin to understand.

jerv's avatar

@wundayatta I think the true indecision comes from figuring whether it’s even worth it or not.

Qingu's avatar

@woodcutter, I find it interesting that you’ve called my criticism “stupid” without actually explaining why I’m wrong.

Instead what you’ve shown is that you choose to remain an independent (or call yourself an independent) for no reason whatsoever except your personal ego trip.

You remind me of a kid who gets pissed when his high school teacher tells him to apply himself. “Why should I apply myself and study and do my assignment? School doesn’t matter anyway, man!” Grow up.

woodcutter's avatar

@Qingu Thats because there’s no discussing anything with you. If all you want to do is cherry pick your points and material and be the one who calls other people stupid another name for immature spit flying out of your mouth name calling because they won’t see things your way then have at it. You do your thing your way and I will do mine, my way. What… If I tell you I will vote straight ticket Democrat will you be my bff?

You’re just another broken record thats easy to get tired of hearing.

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