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Political affiliation and surveys

By Al Cooke
Posted Monday, August 4, 2014

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Pittsboro, NC - Tom Glendenning, you are welcome to send me your survey of non-affiliated voters. But chances are good that the same impulses that lead me to not affiliate with a political party also inform my reluctance to complete a survey. Decades ago I was subjected to a well respected personality inventory. Many of the questions were of the type that asked if I would prefer to be a doctor or a carpenter. The only answer I could imagine to be close to the truth was “no.†That answer was not an option.

Surveys tend to want answers in black and white. Even if they see shades of gray, chances are good that my view of grey is not the same as theirs. Computer surveys are especially noxious in not allowing the participant to pass a question without answering. So I often just close the browser and forget it. I resist the pressure to be pigeon-holed. I’m open to discussing shades of grey but resist the effort to force me to choose black or white.

Impulses that lead me to not affiliate with a political party also inform my reluctance to complete a survey

I have never joined a political party. In my opinion many of their political opinions are internally inconsistent. One does not have to agree to anything in order to join. Membership is not a predictor of what members think. They often appear more interested in the welfare of the party than that of the people they claim to represent. It’s easy to observe this at the national level in attitudes about the presidency. If the president is on your team, he should be supported. If he is not on your team, he should be impeached. If the presidential team changes, all opinions about presidential power and authority change. (Anyone is welcome to test your own sense of team loyalty with the questions of whether you would support or impeach the current president and/or his predecessor.) In my opinion, whenever either team wins the people usually are the losers.

I recently heard about a candidate for some office somewhere suggesting that he would work to eliminate any government agency not included in the constitution. If he were sincere, he would have to begin with the political parties. Our government explicitly supports them, and even holds elections for them to nominate candidates at public expense but may regulate how taxpayers can participate in those elections. Those two major teams work to limit and control access to the political process rather than make it more inclusive. They continue to oppose strategies that would open the electoral process to more candidates or more voters. Just try to get on a ballot without their "permission." It threatens their grip on power more than a brief loss to the other team. I don’t appreciate either of them.

This is all simply my opinion, not gospel by any means. Let me conclude by pointing out that Tom Glendenning and I have on occasion disagreed on various points. But I don't think either of us has ever felt the need to call each other a jerk or any other foul name just on the basis of our opinions. We get along just fine. I would be pleased to see more of that kind of mutual respect among those who disagree. When someone starts calling names, it usually suggests to me that they don't know how to form a good argument.

 
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