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Election Opinion Polls

    A few months back I posted links which bemoaned the inability of various declared presidential candidates to be acknowledged by their political parties or to get a fair shake from the news media.  There were Republicans and Democrats.  I didn't necessarily agree with everything they had to say, but in most cases each one had seized on at least one critical issue that was being ignored in the general political discourse.  In all cases, they were people who had gone to considerable trouble and expense believing that they had something useful to say and do for the citizens of these United States.  It was annoying that they were not heard—and that in some cases they were purposefully suppressed.

    The annoyance returned yesterday in the form of a phone call from one of the opinion poll survey companies.  After questions about the men running for the State and Federal Houses came the question about what issues I thought were most important in the State House.  The lady gave me five or six choices, none of which was related to the right to life.  I told her that her survey was flawed, and that the right to life was my most important issue at any level of government.  She hemmed and hawed a bit.  I was hoping that she would ask me for my second most important issue—observance of the U.S. Constitution—but she breezed on to “For whom do you intend to vote for President—Barack Obama, John McCain, or undecided?”

    “Barack Obama, John McCain, or undecided?  Ma'am, I can't honestly give you any of those three answers.  I don't intend to vote for either of the Senators, and I am certainly not undecided.  There are a half a dozen other men and women on the ballot, and I intend to vote for one of them.  Your poll is flawed.  You need to give people the opportunity to respond with one of the other names—or perhaps with ‘none of the above.’  You need to change your question!”

    “I am sorry, sir, I can't do that.  You have to answer ‘Barack Obama, John McCain, or undecided’”

    “Ma'am, if we did that, I and people like me would by lying.  Do you want to tell the people who read your poll that it is based on lies?”

    I am really sorry, sir, but you have to answer ‘Barack Obama, John McCain, or undecided’”

    “Ma'am, I refuse to lie to you, so please tell your superiors that your poll is flawed and that I refuse to participate.”

    “(Dial-tone)”

    Just in case anyone thinks I am mistaken about their being more than two candidates on the ballot, this is from the site of the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections:

    That is thirteen candidates plus a write-in.  Hardly a choice between “A,” “B,” or “undecided.”

    Now, some will smile and say that the two party system is just the way we do thing in the United States.  I actually had a fellow tell me that it is in the Constitution!  Nowhere is it written that there are two and only two parties.  Nowhere is it written that one must be “undecided” rather than choosing  “none of the above.”  Indeed, George Washington cautioned us against the catering to special interests that would invariably arise from any kind of party system.  There was no Democrat elected President until Andrew Jackson (1828), and no Republican until Abraham Lincoln (1860).  The Federalist, Whig, Democratic‑Republican, and National Union Parties have come and gone.

    Nor is the influence of other parties, beyond an anointed two, insignificant in American history.  Have a look at the results in 1824, 1832, 1836, 1912, 1948, 1968, 1992, and 19961960 shows an interesting thing that can happen even with just two parties.  Go ahead and look—the charts are beautifully done!

    The bottom line problem with the surveys and the media coverage is that it gives people the false idea that their choice is, and always will be, between “A,” “B,” or “undecided.”  We live in a republic where people are supposed to be free to vote for whom they please.  If things are not to their liking—if “A” and “B” seem too much alike—they ought to know that, even though there are many obstacles placed in the way of Other Party candidates (even write-in candidates)—it is possible to vote for and elect someone other than “A” or “B.”  Andrew Jackson did it, and so did Abraham Lincoln.

    What do you suppose would have happened if those in charge had not even admitted that Jackson was on the ballot? or Lincoln?

in XTO,
Fr. Brusca
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