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Posted at 03:57 PM ET, 10/18/2012

Against the undecided voter


If you’re decided, you don’t need to pay attention to this. (EMMANUEL DUNAND - AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
It’s the plummest gig there is.

Everyone wants a piece of you.

Let slip who you are and suddenly all the doors are open. Reporters swarm up demanding to know your opinions on everything. What are you eating? Who are you wearing? What motivates you? What are you doing Tuesday? Can we come back for a photoshoot then?

This group is vastly, vastly overrepresented in the news these days.

Most of the country is hunkering down in our partisan bunkers, occasionally emerging to get sandwiches and hiss. Our TVs are tuned to That One Station That Tells The Real News Truth. Our minds are made up, and no one cares. They take us for granted. We don’t even dress up to go to fundraising dinners. What’s the point? President Obama sends creepy e-mails to us and doesn’t even bother peppering them with exclamation marks.

Meanwhile, our candidates court Them. There they go, asking questions on national TV. Vacillating. Registering. They live in the right states. When Mitt applies the Brylcreem, whistling, he’s thinking of Them. When President Obama worries who will be impressed at the next debate, it’s not us he’s concerned with. Both of them come home with Their dubious perfume liberally coating their jackets.

They are Undecided Voters, and I hate Them. Decide, already!

I have all the ire of a mother who has watched her 6-year-old pick out pink rain boots, then put them back, then pick a teal umbrella, then put it back, then go back to the rain boots, then put them back, all while there is a long line forming. But this is the presidency, not an outfit!

Why can’t they pick?

“There’s not enough information out there,” they point out. “Mitt Romney’s plan doesn’t make sense, and President Obama has not really offered a compelling vision forward for the next four years. Where’s his legislative initiative? Where’s anyone’s?”

“So?” everyone asks. “We knew that. We decided anyway. Why can’t you? Are the vague reassurances, long strings of vitriol, and inane memes that have been offered not doing it for you? They were enough for us! Do you think you’re so much better?”

Evidently.

The same is true on a larger level for swing states. When was the last time you saw anyone offering to build submarines in a firmly and definitely blue or red state? The non-prodigal states, the ones that know where they stand on these things, are full of people wondering whether or not they should bother, when everyone takes them for granted. They come storming in in curlers with burned casseroles. This does nothing to help the cause.

“I’m decided!” the neglected bases shout, pointing ballots at our heads. “But I don’t have to STAY decided! After all, as Proust said, ‘All our final decisions are made in a state of mind that will not last.’ Can I be on TV now?”

But we can’t pull it off like they can.

Indecision is sexy. What are the great love triangles of history and literature if not instances of people who just could not make up their minds which candidate they preferred?

“Well, Arthur’s business record is impressive,” they stall, “but Lancelot understands where I’m coming from.”

Indecision lies at the heart of most of the vital dramas of our lives. Prolong the choice as long as possible. Joey or Ross? Edward or Jacob? Gale or Peeta? We’ll watch you waver up and down. With popcorn. But decide, and you lose us.

In “This Side of Paradise,” F. Scott Fitzgerald described the protagonist’s mother as follows: “She had once been a Catholic, but discovering that priests were infinitely more attentive when she was in process of losing or regaining faith in Mother Church, she maintained an enchantingly wavering attitude.”

Enchantingly wavering. That’s these undecided voters in a nutshell.

The Meek may inherit the earth, but in the interim, it’s been promised to the Undecided Voters.

Who are these people? Are they too scared? Too specifics-hungry? Too engaged? Too disengaged, as SNL suggests?

Why can’t they make up their minds? Who do they think they are, Hamlet?

Maybe they just like the attention.

Schrodinger’s Cat is indecisive. Dead? Alive? Real? Theoretical? You can’t possibly tell us. Decide, and you might disappear.

By  |  03:57 PM ET, 10/18/2012

 
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