Today is Primary Day in New Hampshire and all the news outlets are a-twitter. Two weeks ago, it was wall-to-wall Iowa and how the first-in-the-nation caucus would provide the initial guidance for who will challenge Bush in November. All the polls and the conventional wisdom said Dean was the guy. But when Dean came in third behind Kerry and Edwards, suddenly the conventional wisdom wasn’t so wise. The question no one seemed to ask was why the polls were so wrong. But on to New Hampshire.
In the week between the Iowa caucus and the NH primary we saw the polls slide toward Kerry, although some of them seemed like yo-yos. The Zogby poll showed Kerry with only a 3 percent lead one day and then 13 percent the next. Whatever the case, clearly people were changing their minds and moving from Dean to others. But why?
You’d think people would have considered reasons for choosing their candidate, whether it’s their positions on taxes, health care, foreign policy or the like. But what the shifting polls tell me is that the primary criterion is what everyone else is doing. It’s the question of fashion. “You mean everyone in Iowa likes Kerry? His campaign isn’t dead? Hmmm, then maybe I should be voting for him.” It’s maddening.
That’s why when people bemoan the fact that less than 50 percent of eligible voters vote, I applaud instead. How many people do you think put any time into examining the issues of the day? I saw a statistic that said a majority of young adults get their political news from Jay Leno and David Letterman and Jon Stewart. Can you believe it? The only news they get is some comedian making fun of the politicians. I’d rather they just continue to sit there in front of their idiot boxes and stay away from the polls, thank you.
In this case I agree with Cardinal Gustaaf Joos who said of democracy: “The right to vote, what is that all about? I think it is curious a snot-nosed, 18-year-old has the same vote as a father of seven. One has no responsibilities whatsoever, the other provides tomorrow’s citizens.” Now, if that 18-year-old is educated and informed, perhaps married, perhaps serving in the armed forces, then I’m not worried about his vote. But too many 18-year-olds are living for the weekend, wondering who will buy their next beer, watching MTV, and parroting their left-wing professors.
Democracy is dead. Long live democracy.