Sunday, October 26, 2008

I might support Obama but will never be an “Obama supporter”

There are various reasons to describe how people vote given in the political economy literature. A few are:
  1. You vote for who you think will be best for you.
  2. You vote for who you think will be best for the country.
  3. You vote for symbolic or expressive purposes.
  4. You vote for who you think is going to win.
  5. You vote for the candidate you identify with.
  6. You vote to be affiliated with others who vote for that person.
I’ve already said in this blog that I am largely indifferent between Obama and McCain on the first two points. Points 3 and 4 and 5 are pushing me toward Obama. It would be cool to vote for the first black president (as a fellow political economic thinking friend of mine who is similarly indifferent to voting pointed out), and I have long identified with Obama’s post-partisan rhetoric (though he basically abandons bipartisanship whenever it is expedient, which is basically always).

My problem, is point 6, which is actually the point I focus on in my current research. And on this point, I really really don’t want be associated with Obama supporters. And that is making me not want to vote for Obama. A recent New York Times column is a case in point which has the audacity to blame Republicans alone for being condescending and derisive. They probably are, but I’m rarely exposed to Republicans, or Republican media, so that doesn’t bother me as much. But I’m constantly exposed to the condescension and derision of “Obama supporters” and liberal newspapers (as measured by Groseclose and Milyo) who think that McCain supporters “cling to their guns and religion” or that Palin supporters are “frightening” and “delusional” and don’t give voters in Alaska any credit for overwhelmingly voting her into office, and assume that mistakes she gives during interviews are signs of incompetence, whereas the numerous mistakes and fabrications that Joe Biden makes are merely signs of eccentricity.

I agree that Palin is really bad at handling herself on the national stage. Unlike Obama, she hasn’t had 4 years doing nothing else but campaigning for president. But that doesn’t make her incompetent, and doesn’t make her unfit. Bloomberg gave probably the worst speech I ever heard for his inaugural but has proven to be a very well respected mayor. It’s fine to disagree with Palin’s policies, and it’s fine to disagree with her view on the world, but please, as Obama would advocate, do so with respect.


andy said...
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andy said...

hm, is the first paragraph fodder for an upcoming paper? sounds like stuff i would be tangentially interested in.

that said, i have to take issue with almost the entirety of your argument. i reread tim egan's opinion editorial - note that i choose to use the full version of the term - and can't find anything that blames "republicans alone for being condescending and derisive." i might say that, given the assertion that new yorkers might exist in a "fake" america - and after dozens of conversations about realness with me, i hope we can both agree that this is inasnity - egan is responsing TO derision, rather than engendering it. but whether or not you agree with the opinion editorial - again, note - of course it's going to be one sided. frankly, i think he sticks to the numbers - albeit selectively chosen for effect - and keeps it measured. he didn't make the obvious blow. it's the old ann coulter/al franken game: everyone's complicit in the fact that everyone plays a favorable hand, and both (ugh, bicameralism) tactics resemble one another. i have to say, however, that the evidence that republicans are more vitriolic, violent, and uninformed keeps piling on:

true, democrats and republicans have been known to use similar tactics, make similar mistakes, use similar selective hearing. but just because they are similar does not mean they are the same - not in scale, in frequency, or in timbre. case in point, joe biden. no one suggests that he doesn't make gaffes - a quick stroll through reveals several articles about his mistakes. but some may suggest, rightly so i think, that he makes far fewer and gaffes of a lesser degree. i don't think you can chalk this one up to a blind liberal spin.

some demonize obama for being an arab, a muslim, a terrorist - and some demonize sarah palin for being incompetent. i think we're talking a similar lack of information, but vastly different implications. for the record, i don't dislike sarah palin because i think she's incompetent; in fact, i'm sure she's not. i dislike sarah palin because of her views on abortion, on stem cell research, on homosexuality and gay civil rights, on abstinence programs, on special education, on global warming, on iraq, and her willingness to sink to this whole "socialist" bullshit, amongst other rhetorical lunacies i've witnessed in the past month, discounting gaffes. oh, and if you want to talk about the media ignoring the pitfalls of a candidate, i might bring up the branchflower report. but then, we shouldn't vote on the issues, right?

p.s. not to even broach the topic of sarah palin's experience, but for the record: sarah palin won 75% of less than 4000 votes, where she ran against the former mayor of the town, john stein, whom she had already defeated in 1996 on an approval downturn.

HoBs said...

“hm, is the first paragraph fodder for an upcoming paper? sounds like stuff i would be tangentially interested in.”

Anything I write is the potential for a paper. Happy to work on something with you if you’d like. Though what drives voting behaviorI think is already pretty well explored, so hard to make progress on anything new, except for point 6.We can talk more about that point if you’d like.

I wasn’t attacking Egan on the “real” America. I do that in my next blog post. Perhaps consider my argument there and if you still disagree, we can discuss that further.

This post actually started as a comment to someone else’s blog post. And I guess while Egan inspired the discussion, you’re right, he didn’t blame Republicans alone for being condescending. That was the blogger extrapolating. So apologies to Egan.

But there are many like you who believe that “republicans are more vitriolic, violent, and uninformed “ and that is what I disagree with. Anecdotes don’t convince me, especially anecdotes written to fit a narrative, and even more so, anecdotes written to fit a narrative that has been written by a news media which been shown (in multiple peer-reviewed Democratic dominated journals; e.g. Gentzkow and Shapiro or Groseclose and MIlyo) to have a liberal bias.

For every example you mention of out of control Republicans, there are other examples of Obama supporters wearing t-shirts at rallies saying “palin is a c%^t”

“some may suggest, rightly so i think, that he makes far fewer and gaffes of a lesser degree” and others demonstrate (see recent la times or new York post op-eds) that Biden makes more mistakes and bigger mistakes, especially if you look at the debate.

“i dislike sarah palin because of her views”

I am totally cool with that. But that’s not what others are saying. That’s not what the dozens of op-eds and editorials that call her a frightening choice are saying.

Not sure why you call it “socialist” bullshit though? The views espoused are not very different from those espoused by the modern socialist parties in say France or Germany.

“media ignoring the pitfalls of a candidate”

I dunno. In your view the media ignored it. In my view, I heard about it plenty. Just like I think New York Times rarely mentions Biden’s gaffes, and you think it mentions it a lot. We all are atuned to different things.

“evidence that republicans are more vitriolic…”

I am sure you’re right that one party may use such tactics more than the other.

But I need more solid evidence on that. I don’t trust individual perceptions. And I don’t trust biased reporters. Ideally, you’d have a careful statistical peer-reviewed analysis.

“but for the record: sarah palin won 75% of less than 4000 votes,”

That was the mayor race. What about the gubernatorial?