COMMENTARY | There’s a great Norman Rockwell artwork titled “Undecided.” An elderly man wearing a fedora, suit and glasses stands outside the voting booth, holding a newspaper with images of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Thomas Dewey, with the headline blaring “Which One?”
Though from a different era, the challenges of 1944 are not so different from the choice before undecided voters like me today. We have a Democratic president trying to juggle a slow economic recovery, enemies abroad, and an aggressive challenge from a Northeastern Republican Governor.
But there is a difference. Whereas in Rockwell’s times in 1944, there was a press that focused more on outlining policy platforms, we have a television medium that focuses more on the visual and commentator takes. Trying to watch the conventions has been an exercise in frustration as networks have their hosts and guests talk over many of the speeches.
While some convention talk is about specifics that appeal to undecided voters, much of the attention devoted by the media has been to speeches that either trash the opponent or tell a heart-warming story of a humble origin, a tough personal economic time, or their love of country or a person. All of these are nice, but not for an undecided voter trying to determine whose policy would be more beneficial for the U.S.
But all is not lost. Here the Internet provides an experience unavailable in 1944. I’m going to the websites and reading the issue positions. And throughout the next two months, I’ll write about what I find for Yahoo! News to help other undecided voters decide.
But I won’t do it alone. I have 19 first-year students looking at these same issues. They’re designing an unbiased election guide for their fellow students, faculty and staff at their college. I’ll learn as much from them how younger people make up their minds about a candidate as well.
I do have a critique of the Obama campaign site, though. They provide details jobs and the economy, education, energy and the environment, equal rights, health care, national security, taxes and women’s health, which is a good start. But Mitt Romney’s campaign site provides details on 23 issues. I’d like to see where Obama stands on those other issues. Match Mitt issue for issue, to help the undecided voters choose. I’ll do my best to help my fellow undecideds, and myself, make this difficult choice.
John A. Tures is an associate professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.