Dover Bitch

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Low-information country

Despite my amusement by the complete train wreck that is the McCain selection of Sarah Palin, I think the thing that bothers me the most, at my core, is the insult McCain has hurled at our political process.

I'm not always the biggest fan (to say the least) of the process, but at least I have respect for the idea that America is supposed to work because we, as citizens, are given an opportunity to evaluate the candidates and issues and make our decisions based on what we see and feel.

It is always frustrating to see elections turn on the votes of people who don't pay much attention. It is thoroughly depressing to see the numbers of elated Americans who are thrilled to support a candidate they didn't even know last week. What can you say to defend America's political system in light of that? A massive number of people who don't know squat about Palin are delighted with the pick.

But I've learned to be unsurprised and calm about the vast numbers of blind supporters out there. I've even been able to remain only slightly irritated by the calculations of the GOP to try to woo the support of low-information voters.

But I cannot abide the idea that McCain has tried deliberately to make us all low-information voters.

Here's how the Sarah Palin Story is supposed to be told: Palin makes a great speech at the 2008 convention. Palin announces an exploratory committee in 2011 or 2015 and puts together thoughtful policy papers and teams of experienced advisors. Palin participates in debates, gives interviews, manages a campaign, is vetted by the press, responds to real-time world events... And then, after seeing her in action, the American people decide whether she is up to the task of leading the country in dangerous times.

That's how it works. It's not a secret formula. It happens all the time. That's how America gets to learn about and evaluate the political skills of nationally unknown candidates.

McCain, in his gamble, has robbed the American people of this opportunity. He wants us all to be unable to see what kind of leader she is. Obviously, he didn't really know, either, as evidenced by the litany of blemishes that have come to light in recent days.

I find it seriously insulting that he made this move for many, many reasons. But I just wanted to highlight this one because in a lot of ways, it burns me the most.

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