Campaign as horse race

Dear All Things Considered,

Last week, when Senator John Edwards departed the presidential race, one of your evening commentators remarked with bemusement that, although polls suggest voters care strongly about issues, we don’t seem to be choosing our votes based on the issues at all.

The commentator went on to wonder which candidate would now receive the votes of white men in the Democratic primary. Would the voters’ whiteness, or their maleness, win out? I listened on, but nary a word about where Senators Obama and Clinton stood on issues that might be dear to the hearts of white male voters — who, like any other demographic of voters, are mostly working people and probably most concerned with affordable health care and affordable housing, good schools and good jobs, safety and support for older people and hope and opportunity for younger people.

Frankly, these candidates have not distinguished themselves much from one another on the issues. They do not present much in the way of coherent ideology or bold platform. They are all playing the public relations game. And you are no help. If the frontrunners are all proposing the same health care plan, and it is not the plan that two-thirds of us tell pollsters we want, then please, at least point out this fact! Perhaps our candidates can be embarrassed into courage, or at least coherence.

Instead, even NPR carries a stream of chatter about charisma, experience, and image. It is no wonder that the public plays the only game that is offered us.

Sincerely,

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About Al Bradbury

Labor journalist by day, singer-songwriter by night, Odonian at all hours.

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