There’s a primary election where I live next week. I used to have a job that expected me to be able to tell one candidate from another. Now I’m as ill-informed as everyone else. What to do?
You used to be able to count on a crib sheet from the newspaper editorial page. You might not agree with their choices but could get a fast thumbnail of each candidate’s lack of qualifications and brand of demagoguery.
But newspapers are increasingly undermanned and minimalist. If they even bother to endorse candidates they may do little more than help to weed out the more bizarre candidates. Since most papers are terrified of losing readers and therefore occupy the mushy middle, the candidates they favor tend to be the same, unlikely to make waves but also unlikely to make a difference.
Voting the straight party ticket is easy, but lazy, and can produce some real clunkers. Some races in some places are allegedly non-partisan. Judgeships, for example. But of course, it isn’t true that they aren’t partisans. They just aren’t telling. Lacking a party label as a handy guide, you have to figure out their true allegiance.
Luckily, a fast glance at their websites or their position declarations is often all that’s needed to determine which lunatic fringe they are taking pains to pander to. “Convicted out of their own mouths, Milord,” as the barrister is wont to cry in British whodunits. But who can bear to schlep through s dozen or more websites?
You can hardly avoid TV ads in the bigger, hotly contested races, but they are all out of the same cookie cutter, some designed for left-handed voters and some for right. But all are equally vile with the same Sound-of-Music beauty shots of their guy and black and white Weegee-style photos, voice of doom announcer and creep show music for their opponent.
Casting a vote based on a TV ad is like taking a bite of the witch’s poison apple from Snow White. “Here, try my nice red, juicy candidate, my dear.”
But there is one infallible way to know whom to vote for and against if you have lived in a neighborhood long enough to know the people around you. Just check out their yard signs.
“Oh, look, Lurch the Tea Party nut case has got a sign for Burley Hornswoggle, cross him off the list. And there, Grace the New Age Vegan has got a recyclable sign for Hope Darlington. Another one bites the dust. We’re making real progress.”
Or would be if only the few neighbors whose opinions I trust would put out a sign. But they never do, possibly because there are no candidates a trustworthy person would trust.
In this day and age there’s an obvious solution, and when some Valley Boy figures it out I expect a whopping big royalty check. You’re my witness. You heard it here first. If Amazon’s algorithms can tell us what books or tunes we’ll like and Christian Mingle can tell us who to mingle with, if you’ll excuse the expression, isn’t it time for Candi-Date?
Simply fill out a simple form of likes and dislikes on a 1 to 10 scale. Invade everywhere or Invade nowhere. Close all schools or Pay enough to get competent teachers. Medicare and Social Security or Let Granny Fend for Herself. Fill in your Zip Code and, voila, the perfect matches for your political profile. What could go wrong?