This American Life broadcast an unintentionally hilarious (if it wasn’t so incredibly sad) segment, Swing Set, about undecided voters in swing states who hate Bush but can’t seem to bring themselves to vote for Kerry.
Ira Glass follows the electoral mood swings of Dr. James Hackett, a medical doctor from rock-ribbed Republican Cincinnati, OH. Hackett, known to his friends as “Gig,” is an affable, intelligent, but clueless undecided voter. He hates Bush and says so clearly. Doesn’t agree with him on the tax cut; doesn’t agree with him on the prosecution of the Iraq War. The only good thing he has to say is that Bush clearly has the courage of his convictions. Glass points out the irony that Hackett agrees with virutally none of Bush’s convictions. Hackett himself understands the inherent contradiction and doesn’t even attempt to explain it away.
Hackett has serious problems with Kerry. He says Kerry is “the most liberal senator.” When Glass asks him to state a particular Kerry “liberal” position with which he disagreed, Hackett replies that he doesn’t know Kerry’s record well enough to say. Later in the interview, when Glass points out a Los Angeles Times article which declares that Kerry is the 10th most liberal senator, Hackett responds incredulously: “then why are they saying he’s the most liberal?” He says this with the most piteous tone as if he’d been betrayed by whoever the “they” is. Of course, he never stops to consider that George Bush and Dick Cheney are the ones who told him this white lie.
Even more incredulously, Hackett looks back nostagically at the Clinton presidency and believes, in retrospect of course since he disliked Clinton while he was president, he was a great president. Glass points out that the reason he likes Clinton so much is that Clinton was a “suck-up.” If a poll told him the majority of the American people believed one way on an issue, then Clinton adopted that position. Didn’t matter if that position went against his own personal views. Clinton was a “suck up” to the American people, while Bush on the other hand takes few positions that Hackett or the majority of the American people agree with. Then Glass goes farther in stating that this is precisely the type of candidate John Kerry is. Unlike Bush, Kerry will take positions based on what most Americans want. Kerry, like Clinton, will conceal his own views on the issues because he wants to “suck up” to you, the American people.
Hackett told Ira that he had a good point. During their various discussions, he admits to Glass that there is little or no logic in his refusal to embrace Kerry. When it comes down to it, Hackett tells Glass that the reason he will vote for Bush and Glass for Kerry is that he has been a life-long Republican and Glass a lifelong Democrat. But in the same breath, Hackett says he is not refusing to vote for Kerry out of party loyalty. Go figure.
If that isn’t a confused, befuddled and hopelessly at-sea voter, I don’t know what is. And if Bush wins the election (God help us, I hope it isn’t so) it will be because of voters like Dr. James Hackett, who know Bush is a disaster but can’t bring themselves to vote for the other guy. And they will get the kind of disastrous government they deserve dragging the rest of us, kicking and screaming, along with them.