We constantly hear about the much courted “undecided voter,” a term that should be an oxymoron, but unfortunately isn’t. I suppose it sounds better than “uninformed guesser.” This is a group of people who are, as the election rapidly approaches, being bombarded with messages in order to get their last-minute vote. This is a scary thought, and also punishes people who did their homework on time.

It didn’t used to be this way.

Shortly before the Revolutionary War, one-third of the colonists were for independence, one-third were content with the British tax system, warm beer and driving their buggies on the left side of the road, and one-third were neutral or completely indifferent or unaware of what was going on. Naturally, for a nation seeking a logical direction, the wise thing to do would be to base the national course of action on the last second thoughts or whims of that latter third, right?

That’s how we seem to handle it these days. If you don’t have an opinion, we’ll make you have one, and sometimes even drive you to the polls. What a bad way to run an election, not to mention a country.

Fortunately, in the mid to late 1700s, the neutral, ignorant or undecided were left alone to ride along on whatever path was chosen for them, as they deserved. Now, undecideds are rounded up and put in a room to question the candidates, where they play a pivotal role each election year and often end up check-mating the vote of those of us who were silly enough to pay attention in the first place.

In addition, for some reason, the media has attached a label of nobility to this confused bloc of potential voters. Decided voters are often the ones painted as having a kneejerk preconceived notion — nothing at all like the open-minded voter who flips a coin at the polling place or is swayed by fictional or irrelevant claims.

It takes Talent to out-Fox undecided voters

It’s because of these “undecideds” that we’re subjected to insane last-minute commercials featuring lies, deceptions, designed controversy and/or end-arounds that cause us to lose focus on the point.

As an example, consider the Michael J. Fox ad that aired in Missouri during the World Series. The ad was in support of Claire McCaskell against Jim Talent in the race for Missouri senate. Rush Limbaugh came out to criticize the ad, then Fox responded, then the media responded, and now I can’t even remember which candidate was for what. In other words, the ad did exactly what it was designed to do.

So there sat some undecided voters in Missouri, watching the World Series game, who now may have decided which senate candidate to vote for because Michael J. Fox, who lives in New York by the way, would really like to not have Parkinson’s Disease. Hopefully stem-cell research can also find a way to handle national defense and the economy — both of which seem to have become mere side issues in this particular election.

In the case of many Missouri undecideds, there’s a good possibility they’ll be swayed by the Fox ad. Political views aside, when you think about the scope of our problems, is it a good thing for the country that a political candidate – who, if elected, will help decide the direction of the nation in an age of global strife, terrorism, domestic flaps, illegal immigration, and all the rest – could be put into office simply because many Missourians would like nothing more than to see the guy who played Marty McFly in “Back to the Future” movies resume a normal acting career?

There are many more ads, from the silly to the inane, that insult the intelligence of the decided voter to the point where they might not want to vote. You hear frustrated people almost every day say they’re not going to vote because they think it doesn’t matter anyway. Politicians know this, which is why the undecideds are such a large and courted voting bloc.

Someday soon, if it isn’t already, the nation will be completely governed by those elected by the undecided. Maybe it’s worth a shot, because those of us who like to think we know what we’re doing don’t seem to be getting anywhere either.

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