The Unpolitical Animal

The Unpolitical Animal - The Unpolitical Animal How...

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The Unpolitical Animal How political science understands voters. by Louis Menand In every Presidential-election year, there are news stories about undecided voters, people who say that they are perplexed about which candidate’s positions make the most sense. They tell reporters things like “I’d like to know more about Bush’s plan for education,” or “I’m worried that Kerry’s ideas about Social Security don’t add up.” They say that they are thinking about issues like “trust,” and whether the candidate cares about people like them. To voters who identify strongly with a political party, the undecided voter is almost an alien life form. For them, a vote for Bush is a vote for a whole philosophy of governance and a vote for Kerry is a vote for a distinctly different philosophy. The difference is obvious to them, and they don’t understand how others can’t see it, or can decide whom to vote for on the basis of a candidate’s personal traits or whether his or her position on a particular issue “makes sense.” To an undecided voter, on the other hand, the person who always votes for the Democrat or the Republican, no matter what, must seem like a dangerous fanatic. Which voter is behaving more rationally and responsibly? If you look to the political professionals, the people whose job it is to know what makes the fish bite, it is clear that, in their view, political philosophy is not the fattest worm. “Winning Elections: Political Campaign Management, Strategy & Tactics” (M. Evans;
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This note was uploaded on 02/02/2012 for the course 790 302 taught by Professor Field during the Spring '09 term at Rutgers.

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The Unpolitical Animal - The Unpolitical Animal How...

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