Let other people lace into the one-issue voters. I think we should envy them. At least they are voting for something instead of against it. At least they have decided. At least they are sure.
It's the huge camp of the Undecideds we ought to worry about: the people who cannot even figure out how to decide. I think they'll march into the voting booths in four weeks with erasers in their heads, still changing their minds.
I know the pollsters call them "the volatile voters," but that's absurd. Their minds are not made of combustible materials; they are not ready to ignite, to march on fire to one campaign or another. They are the depressed voters who are shuffling through this month without enthusiasm to start an argument, let alone a fire.
It's not that these people lack an issue. We all have our issues. This year it is a candidate we lack.
The bottom line for many undecideds is peace. I suppose there isn't any other issue in a nuclear age. If we blow each other up, the rate of inflation becomes moot.
The stories that scare these one-issue voters are about computers that break down and send missiles up. They are stories about wrenches dropped into bomb silos, and "strategic" nuclear weapons planned for land, and "limited" warfare in all fields. They are stories about all the things that could go bump in the night.
Many of the peace voters I meet are women. But that is not surprising. When you look up and down recent history, as political science professor Marjorie Lansing of Eastern Michigan University has done, peace is the "real" women's issue.
In 1969, 64 percent of women labeled themselves doves while only 48 percent of men chose that category. By 1972, 70 percent of the women wanted out of Vietnam while 54 percent of men felt the same. Last year more men and women (43 percent to 30 percent) wanted to use force in Iran to release the hostages; more men than women (50 percent to 41 percent) think we are spending too little for defense; more men than women (66 percent to 53 percent) want to renew the draft.
There is, says Lansing, a highly identifiable swing vote of people, especially women, who will go with the candidate they believe to be least likely to get us into war. In a campaign that may swing on millivotes, this isn't a small factor.
But this fall it's almost impossible to pick a peacemaker. "That," says Professor Lansing with a sigh, "is exactly the problem. One of the reasons the women's bloc doesn't function is that the candidates don't make it simple. It's one of the problems not only for women but for everybody. It's why one-third of the people are still undecided."
In recent weeks, Carter has hung the warrior ribbon around Reagan's neck with some success. It isn't hard. At the Boston Globe two weeks ago, Vice President Mondale simply went through a long list of places Reagan wanted to send troops. "Every time a country hiccups he seems to want to suppress it not by lozenges but by American force," Mondale said.
It's easy enough to think of Reagan as a hawk. But it is hard to think of Carter as a dove when he harbors rifle-toting Brzezinski under one wing and the draft registration plan under the other. Both men seem to be in an arms race with each other, extolling the technological wonders of "defense."
Nor does Anderson's image sit well with his record. Reagan is still -- unbelievably -- fighting the Vietnam War. But not so long ago Anderson supported the bombing of Haiphong Harbor and the invasion of Cambodia.
The world's fate is held captive by international veterans of World War II, from the days when wars could be won and one side was "right." However paranoid and isolated our old men in command are, the old men in the Kremlin are equally isolated and equally paranoid. The men in the Middle East hold grudges as ancient as their lands. It isn't easy for anyone to pick out a path that leads away from confrontation.
Yet among these three, no one makes us feel more secure in an insecure world. So, if there's a mood that fits the peace voters this year, it comes from Woody Allen's "speech to the graduates": "More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to dispair and utter hopelessness. The other to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."
The one-issue voters have no candidate. They are left with nothing but a touch of black humor.