An Associated Press/Yahoo News poll has been playing word association games with about 1,800 respondents in regards to our two front-runners for president.
When asked to say the first word that comes to mind when thinking of John McCain, 20% of people say “old.” For Obama, 20% say “change.” On one hand, this political reductionism offers the candidates a very basic idea of what resonates with voters (or, what they need to change, fundamentally). On the other hand, it also raises a couple of questions. For one, are these same respondents able to elaborate on the candidates beyond the one word ZMET-ist response? Does this presage how future campaigns will be run? Imagine the first “iTunes Soundbite Debate Podcast” in which candidates are asked questions like “How would you respond to an act of aggression toward Israel by Iran… in 4 words or less?” In election-cycles past, we had to contend with the influence the mob, the unions, soft money, foreign money, Jim Crow, voting machines, hanging chad, 527’s and PAC’s… Now, the spinsters, the linguists, the pollsters, the ad men, the mad men, and the image makers threaten to usurp the process… making it not about ideas and debate, but about slogans. Candidates criticize each other’s platforms by saying that their policies are bumper sticker slogans. Depending on the success of the current method of evaluating public sentiment, bumper stickers may end up being too “wordy.” Granted, this has been a component of elections since elections began… but it does seem like today we tend to latch onto things that work and wring every last bit of worky-ness out of it. I hope this sponge isn’t holding much water… it’s just one more step on the path to full blown American Idiocracy. Bonus points to those of you who know what the title refers to. If you post a comment, limit your response to 4 words or less with an ABBA rhyme scheme(just kidding).