False choices in selecting the American President

This is my inventory of the false or misleading choices presented to us in the mainstream narrative of how we select the President of the United States. They're presented by our culture, our media, our parents, our friends. They're presented as "the way things have always been" and "get on board with this or you'll be left behind" and "don't be an idealistic fool by believing anything else" They're presented with confidence and vigor, and they're spread far and wide:

  • That we have to choose between a candidate from the Republican party and a candidate from the Democratic Party.
  • That within a given political party, we have to choose a single candidate who is the best and only choice.
  • That the party conventions are a time when the will of the people is represented and expressed in the form of a meaningful vote, and not just a time for the powerful and well-connected to party on someone else's dime.
  • That we have to vote for the person who can win, instead of voting for the person that best reflects our own values.
  • That we must choose the candidate with the most political experience, since the presidency is no place for on-the-job training, instead of choosing a candidate who could be the most effective once in office.
  • That we have to choose between efficient, accurate, secure electronic voting machines with no paper trail and slow, unreliable, corruptible traditional voting methods that leave a written record of our choice.
  • That it is possible choose a President who will represent us individually and work to address the concerns that affect us on a day-to-day basis, instead of working on those concerns ourselves within our community.

What other false choices are we asked to make? Feel free to add your own in the comments.

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Chris Hardie

Chris Hardie is an Internet tech geek, problem solver, community-builder and amicable cynic.

2 thoughts on “False choices in selecting the American President”

  1. this is excellent! thanks for pointing these things out. naming the subtle haze we live in is incredibly difficult, but such a gift for others.
    i'm shocked by how much time radio and other media (radio is where i get most of my news) spend reinforcing these notions with absolutely no awareness.

  2. I'm a skeptic. I have never had an opportunity to vote for anyone who reflects my values. And I never will. That is a false choice. I accept that fact, and also the fact that if I ever did have an opportunity to vote for a candidate who agreed with me, it would either be me, or it would be someone so obscure that no voter would even care, never mind the media-election machine. In today's America, anyone can vote for anyone. Choices abound. I don't know the numbers, but how many times have you heard of voters writing in Mickey Mouse? I know that I can choose between Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, Socialist, pothead or slacker. No one is looking over my shoulder, tellin me, at gun point, how I must vote. It is incorrect to say that we have the choice between 2 parties & 2 parties only. I can vote for anyone, but I choose to vote for someone other than Micky Mouse. Most voters realize this too. We all see more than 2 parties on the ballot. We're not dumb. But we have to choose, and, yes, we have to compromise. Even if someone is so sick of the 2 party system that they cast their vote for a 3rd party candidate, they never vote for someone who reflects exactly what they believe. If anyone agrees 100% with any candidate, they're lying to themselves. Every voter makes their choice based on politics & posturing. A vote for a 3rd party candidate could be because they agree for a large part with that person, but it's mainly a big "up yours" to the status quo. And while that may be cathartic, and even politically viable, at the end of every day I ask myself who must be in the white house for the good of the world, and who must not be. And from these questions, I decide who I will vote for. And I'm also aware that I am voting for a party--a community--of those whose beliefs, more than the other "side" (another false choice/dichotomy) jive with mine. A third-party candidate would have no such community, no party backing, and therefore no power to get anything done. Sure, they may have great ideas,and I might think they stole their ideas straight from my blog, but DC is run by political parties (and, of course, special interests, but primarily it's parties). If you're not in a party, your power is taken away. It's that simple. So, do I want a president who won't do everything that I would do if I were president, but might maybe a quarter or an eighth of the time--compared to a president who would do everything I would not do 98 percent of the time? Or do I want a president who would do what I would do 99 percent of the time, but would have no way of actually accomplishing a single thing because they have no power, thanks to the 2 party system that has shut them out? This is the real choice I make when I go to the polls.

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