Curmudgeon’s Creative Challenge #17

There’s nothing going on out there to blog about, but we won’t let you down. It’s time for another Creative Challenge, albeit one that’s off-topic.

Your task will be to help us deal with what we see as the total collapse of the premise that underlies the reason we vote for political candidates. The problem is that if we don’t vote for candidates based on their ideas, values, and character, and their adherence to the Constitution, then what’s the point of having elections?

We’re all familiar with those who will vote for a creationist, usually without regard to whatever else the candidate may think. But there are other examples out there of the problem that concerns us. In recent years we’ve seen that many will vote for a candidate solely — or at least primarily — because of his race, and currently we’re seeing the phenomenon of a candidate whose principal support seems to be based entirely upon her gender. Your Curmudgeon finds this trend to be deeply troubling.

There are other examples of “single-issue” voters, but when the issue is, say, taxes or defense, at least it’s political in nature, so we’re not concerned here with those voters. And there are other issues over which voters obsess, like abortion and — shall we say — unconventional types of marriage. But those are too divisive for this humble blog, so we don’t want to hear about them. Besides, constitutionally speaking, such matters are — or should be — the concerns of the states, not issues for national elections. So we’re going to limit the subject matter to what we see as alarming recent developments.

The form of today’s challenge is that you must tell us, with reasonable brevity:

What can or should be done (if anything) about those who, regardless of all other issues, would vote for a Presidential candidate based solely upon the candidate’s race or gender?

You know the rules: A successful entry should be self-explanatory. You may enter the contest as many times as you wish, but you must avoid profanity, vulgarity, childish anatomical analogies, etc. Also, avoid slanderous statements about individuals. Feel free to comment on the entries submitted by others — with praise, criticism, or whatever — but you must do so tastefully.

Your Curmudgeon will decide if there’s a winner, and whenever we get around to it we’ll announce who the winner is. There is no tangible prize — as always in life’s great challenges, the accomplishment is its own reward. We now throw open the comments section, dear reader. Go for it!

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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46 responses to “Curmudgeon’s Creative Challenge #17

  1. currently we’re seeing the phenomenon of a candidate whose principal support seems to be based entirely upon her gender

    Rather than her distinguished career as a lawyer, Senator and Secretary of State?

  2. Aw c’mon, we have a democracy here, with a secret ballot. The basis for somebody’s vote, anybody’s vote, is entirely up to them. Democracies will always have some tension between the knee-jerk/single issue voters and voters who are more thoughtful. That is the cost of having a democracy and an open society.

    But we do not have to create election structures that encourage bad behavior. Why, for Pete’s sake, do we allow people to donate money to the campaigns of politicians who will not be representing them? Since I live in IL, I should be able to donate money to candidates who are running in my legislative districts, and President, of course as he/she presents us all. But if I am donating money to a senate campaign in another state, I am buying influence, plain and simple. That person will not represent me, so I should not be able to give him money. Why should rich people determine the outcomes of elections for offices that do not represent them, just because they are rich? Why should people have someone representing them they do not like because that someone had rich friends?

    We need to clean up the systems to allow people to make the choices they have to live with, instead of letting rich people and corporations choose who will represent us. I we choose unwisely, that is on us. If we let rules be set that let small groups choose for everybody else, we might as well but a gun to our head and pull the trigger.

  3. The only way stupid voting will be fixed is to ban stupid voters by, say, an IQ minimum standard for voting. However, I think that this would not be very practical nor in an ethical or humane spirit.

  4. Eddie Janssen

    It is like voting for someone who is white, anglosaxon, protestant and male.

  5. The whole truth

    “What can or should be done (if anything) about those who, regardless of all other issues, would vote for a Presidential candidate based solely upon the candidate’s race or gender?”

    Can? Unfortunately, probably nothing.

    Should? Banishment to Venus. :p

    Voting for a candidate because of their gender is bad enough but there are dumber reasons. I remember watching a news broadcast years ago where people were asked why they voted for a particular candidate. Several of the women who were asked said that they voted for a particular guy because he had “nice hair”. I kid you not.

  6. Eddie Janssen says: “It is like voting for someone who is white, anglosaxon, protestant and male.”

    Maybe we’ll see some of that in 2016. But until recently, all candidates fit that description. I’m not saying those were the good old days, but with two such candidates, the decision had to be made on other issues.

  7. You’re asking how to make people NOT vote for someone they feel is more like them (as a person, part of their group). More people vote based on the “beer factor” (they are one of “us”) than on policy positions, so I’m telling you it’s pointless to try.

  8. Lewis Thomasonn

    Nothing, there is no requirement to use intelligence or even good sense when voting and the politicians will see that it stays that way.

  9. It’s the press that seems to think those are the most interesting characteristics-not necessarily the voters.

  10. michaelfugate

    I don’t think any one really does this – or why wouldn’t every woman have voted for Mondale just to get a woman in as vice president or McCain for that matter?

  11. @michaelfugate

    I don’t think anyone really does this

    Precisely. It was a meme invented by the likes of Faux News and subsequently widely circulated in the echo chamber by those who couldn’t understand why people might want to vote for a rational, savvy human being rather than the motley array of creationists and science deniers on offer.

    I’m not particularly a Clinton fan (although I recognize she brings many strong qualities to the table, as I mentioned a few comments ago), but at the moment it seems she stands head and shoulders above any other declared opposition contender. To dismiss her support as just a matter of “gender vote” is pure reality denial, and grossly insulting to the many intelligent folk who actively support her.

  12. “What can or should be done (if anything) about those who, regardless of all other issues, would vote for a Presidential candidate based solely upon the candidate’s race or gender?”

    Absolutely nothing. It would be unconstitutional to so restrict a citizen’s right to vote.

  13. realthog “Rather than her distinguished career as a lawyer, Senator and Secretary of State?”

    Or, according to William Saffire, her history of being a congenital liar congenial lawyer?

  14. Do we encourage people to vote because people always make wise choices? Do we want people to vote because that method of choosing leaders picks the most qualified person for the job? No. And no. The fundamental advantage of representative democracy is that (1) ideally it gives every voter a sense of having been heard and having an equal voice in who will run the government for a while, and (2) having been heard, ideally, the citizenry is much less likely to stage a revolution and/or bring about anarchy. After many centuries of recurring wars and unrest in the repetitive history of Europe, the Founding Fathers wanted above all else for America to prosper through the peace that comes with equality and shared power.

    In the USA we tend to take peaceful transfers of power for granted. Even the most disgruntled losers (i.e., the defeated candidates and their followers) tend to accept their defeat without rioting and overthrowing the government. Why? As long as they have a basic confidence in the integrity of the election process, especially the vote-counting, they tend to realize that they failed to win over majority opinion, and they accept the results. They may even start work on the next election. The vast majority of citizens operate from an innate sense of right and wrong and only if they perceive a fundamental wrong will they resort to riot and anarchy. Because the people of our culture consider “one person, one voice, one vote” inherently fair and right, they don’t have much motivation for resorting to violence. So peace is preserved.

    In practical terms, there’s obviously no legal or legislative means to eliminate what many would consider “myopic” voting priorities. So one can always do what Americans have always done: use free speech rights to change minds.

    That is what democracy and representative government provides: protection from anarchy and revolution. So to tamper with that simple formula, such as by somehow limiting which kinds of “voices” are permissible, one risks ignoring what the lessons of history tell us about avoiding the carnage and costs of recurring revolutions.

    So if we could somehow invalidate the single-issue voter, we would be telling them that the very idea which they prioritize above all others somehow doesn’t count. We have deprived them of their “one voice, one vote.” If we denigrate their hope that their race or gender will finally have its opportunity to lead, we’ve threatened their “one voice, one vote.” When we are essentially telling them that their assignment of relative priorities, values, and/or beliefs are inferior or even dangerous, we are attacking their “one voice, one vote.”

    Democracy certainly has its risks and disadvantages but it sure beats the alternatives. Tampering with the mechanisms of representative-democracy could amplify those risks.

  15. michaelfugate

    I don’t think hispanics will vote for Cruz or Rubio – why? Fleeing a left-wing dictator gets you free admission to the US, fleeing a right-wing dictator gets turned away at the gate. Only if the US were to develop a sane foreign policy.

  16. Professor Tertius, by being so reasonable, you take all the fun out of it.

  17. Vulcanthunder

    What bothers me more is that a few billionaires and rich corporations can buy an election. That’s how we got our wonderful governor of Louisiana.

  18. @retiredsciguy

    according to William Saffire

    I used to have a fair amount of respect for Saffire, even though I disagreed with him politically. Then I came across a whole string of his NYT op-eds in which he congenitally lied. After that, on the same principle that we ignore the results of scientists shown to have systematically fudged their data, I ignored everything he said.

  19. There are lots of things one can be because of their genetic heritage (congenital). Lying isn’t one of them. Perhaps you meant “pathological”.

  20. Invisible Mikey says:

    Perhaps you meant “pathological”.

    For some reason, in this thread everyone keeps saying “congenital.”

  21. Yes, I found that kind of odd. I’m a health care worker. Those “science words” are like my triggers 😀

  22. I’m not entirely covinced that picking leaders at random wouldn’t be better. Or at least not much worse.

  23. @Mark Germano

    There’s that great Leonard Cohen line (Songs of Love and Hate sleeve): “They locked up a man who wanted to rule the world. They locked up the wrong man.”

  24. michaelfugate

    Mark I agree – just throw everyone’s name into a hat at different levels and you get to be a senator for x number of years. It would be like jury duty – try to get out of it if you can. Certainly a step up in pay for the median citizen.

  25. @Invisible Mikey: It was William Saffire who used the term “congenital liar”, referring to Hillary Clinton with reference to her dealings in the Whitewater scandal. When called to task for his choice of words, he later said he meant “congenial lawyer”.

  26. Ceteris Paribus

    What is wrong with the current system of just assigning primary spots to the highest bidders? One or another of them is usually the winner anyway.

    But to put new gusto into emerging new parties, the new general election would not require any actual voting at all, and each each race would be by default declared a tie.

    Then, in full public view provided by any TV network that wants to carry the runoff event live, all of the tied candidates would be gathered into a large wrestling arena. This provides each candidate copious face time to mug into the cameras and allowing them many opportunities to taunt their competitors with gratuitous slurs and continuous self-aggrandizing comments while waiting their turn.

    But the eventual winners would not be decided by a mere wrestling match . Instead, all challengers will first be given the opportunity to volunteer to drop out in the name of some other party, thereby avoiding the prospect of sheer embarrassment and derision resulting from being tagged a “loo-ser”.

    So, the actual winner is decided by the last candidate standing after brutal combat at Wheel of Fortune games. And withing a few hours, the One True Winner will emerge victorious because of their well honed skill, (or possibly by the intervening agency of an Act by the One True G**, if that suits their party platform better).

    Probably could get the whole election shebang done in just a week or two, start to finish, avoiding the current problems of multiple “debates” running into conflicts with the fall TV sports season.

    Best of all, this fair and balanced election method is completely in keeping with the sanctity of US free enterprise, and it neatly avoids all the anguish and waiting which have been occasioned by hanging chads and charges of mass voter registration fraud.

  27. @Ceteris Paribus


  28. Dave Luckett

    Being from outside, I can offer only the well-known Churchill aphorism:

    “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

    The day any democracy starts prescribing on what basis its citizens must choose their representatives is the day it ceases to be a democracy.

  29. Charles Deetz ;)

    When I was a boy, I didn’t know any better and would pick who wins the Super Bowl based on their location or the colors of their uniform. Now that I am grown I am smart enough to not tell anyone that’s how I do it.

    When it comes to candidates, I think it is the ‘beer factor’ that Invisible Monkey brought up that works with me. I just know that if I had a beer with Ted Cruz, it would end in a beer brawl.

  30. As appealing as it may seem, we probably cannot have intelligence tests to decide who gets to vote. I don’t think we can even have a sanity test – crazy people can and do vote. Case in point:

    I’ve attended a few “town hall” meetings with my congressman. During the Q&A of one meeting, an elderly woman asked a question concerning U.S. policy toward Israel. She noted with great concern that whenever some wrong was done to Israel, “God causes an earthquake.” I caught up to this woman in the parking lot after the meeting. I wanted to make sure that I had heard her correctly. I had. I asked her if she believed in plate tectonics – the explanation that geologists have for earthquakes. Her answer to that was, “Well who made geologists?” (She had some “reason” that god creating geologists made her argument valid — her logic escaped me).

    By the standards of some fundamentalists, I suppose this woman might seem rational. To me, (and I suspect, to all who gather here with SC), this woman would be considered totally nuts.

    Who gets to decide if this woman is allowed to vote?

  31. Correction – [it’s corrected]. This is what happens when I post before having my first cup of coffee🙂

    [*Voice from above*] I stretched forth my mighty hand …

  32. Mighty and righteous!

  33. Dave Luckett

    Hideo Gump:

    Indeed. “I’m crazy and I vote” has long been a youtube staple. When you look at some of the people there, and reflect that armies of lurching, dribbling loons are no more than a click away if that, you feel quite warmly positive towards those who vote according to gender or race, or even fashion sense or hairstyle.

  34. Restrict voting to those who have skin in the game. If you don’t pay income or property taxes, you don’t get to vote. This won’t prevent people for voting for candidates for idiotic reasons, but it will over time punish people in their pocketbook for doing so, and thus creates a disincentive to vote for candidates for superficial reasons.

    Alternatively, just tell the LoInfoVoters that they can avoid the long lines by voting on the Tuesday AFTER the election. They won’t even know they’ve been disenfranchised.

  35. Longie, you’re back!

  36. I lurk; therefore I am.

  37. longshadow:
    “Alternatively, just tell the LoInfoVoters that they can avoid the long lines by voting on the Tuesday AFTER the election. They won’t even know they’ve been disenfranchised.”

    Love it! Of course, our current prez wants to vastly increase the number of LoInfoVoters by making voting mandatory. Tells you something about how he thinks the typical LoInfoVoter will vote.

  38. Back in the previous thread (Creationist Wisdom #559: Another Hovind Fan), Professor Tertius mentioned extreme NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) with regard to Kent Hovind.

    That got me thinking about our current crop of potential presidential candidates, and how a person must have at least a touch of NPD to toss his or her hat into the ring. Because of the way the two parties have structured the nominating process requiring a long series of primary elections before the nominating convention, a candidate must self-select to run for the office of president.

    In the past, a party’s candidate was drafted by the party at their national convention, and the party powers would chose a person that they felt would have the best chance of being elected. Like as not, that chosen candidate also had great leadership and organizational skills that brought him to the attention of the nominating convention in the first place (Eisenhower, for instance).

    In contrast, no one would accuse any of the 19 or so of today’s potential candidates of being humble. They all seem to think quite highly of themselves.

  39. Thanks for explaining to me that William Safire was the originator of the misuse of the word “congenital”. I wonder what everyone else’s excuse is for amplifying that mistake. Sounding clever matters more than being accurate?

  40. Hideo Gump wrote:
    “By the standards of some fundamentalists, I suppose this woman might seem rational.”

    As common as such behaviors can be among fundamentalists, it is “by the standards of” human beings who make decisions and form opinions based upon feelings, not facts. I consider it as simple as that.

    You will find more on this at the Bible & Science Forum blog under the article
    Evolution-Denialism: It’s About Feelings, Not Just Facts, and the same dynamics apply to all sorts of topics.

    The lady you questioned in the parking lot didn’t even care about the facts of seismology. It never occurred to her to consider the evidence of plate tectonics. It is not that she deliberately ignores the facts because she knew they would work against her. No, she simply never gave a thought to approaching the topic in any other manner than through her feelings. Facts never came to mind. Facts didn’t matter to her.

    Of course, millions of people vote according to the same approach. They vote for the person who they feel positively about. “I feel he/she is a nice person.” is as far as their thinking may go. And that is why the average political campaign’s commercials are filled with friendly smiling people–or frowning hurting people. It is always about images which quickly convey feelings rather than actual facts.

  41. So let it be.

    I’m sure that a woman president could screw up this country just as much as any male president has, regardless of race, color, religion, etc., and should be given an equal opportunity to prove it!

    At this point, do we really have anything to lose?

  42. @ProfTertius – Thanks for the link. As a matter of fact, a fundamentalist-leaning acquaintance has expressed to me his distaste for Neil DeGrasse Tyson because of his “arrogance.” For me this adds support for your point that the “debate” is often about feelings rather than facts. I also think Chris Mooney may be onto something with his analysis of “The Republican Brain” –

    There are striking similarities between the “it’s all about feelings” explanation and Mooney’s explanation from psychology.

  43. I am shocked, truly shocked that all of you have missed the only true, the only right, and most obvious answer!

    What can or should be done …


  44. TA: You’ve got my vote!

  45. @ Invisible Mikey: At the time Safire wrote his comment calling Hillary Clinton a “congenital liar” (Jan. 8, 1996), the word “congenital” was then in common use to imply that a person being a “congenital this” or a “congenital that” was that way since birth. It was an idiomatic use; certainly not accurate. Here’s the essay:

    I had the story of the “congenial lawyer” comment wrong. It was humorist Mark Russell who came up with that, suggesting that Safire originally wrote “congenial lawyer”, but it got messed up in computer transmission somewhere between the writer and the printing press. The story is on Pg. 142 of Safire’s Political Dictionary: right here.

    (Note to SC: I’ve not had much luck when I’ve tried to embed a link. Please feel free to clean up this hideously long link. Thanks.)

  46. Techreseller

    Nothing new here. Repeating what has already been said above. People have a right to be stupid. Cannot take away that right. You get the government you deserve. Vote for someone who panders to you to get your vote. They will cheat you pure and simple.