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Letter from the Editor

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I've been reading recently about "low-information voters." These are people who, for the most part, don't read newspapers, political websites, or opinion magazines to learn candidates' voting records or political positions. They don't pay much attention to politics at all, which in theory makes them susceptible to whatever information is put under their nose — whether it's from a talk-radio host, a preacher, a co-worker, a random e-mail rumor, a bumper sticker, or a catchy slogan on a T-shirt.

These are not discerning voters. Another name for them would be "dumbasses." I say this without fear of retribution, knowing that low-information voters, i.e., dumbasses, don't read this column. (I can't wait for someone to write me and say, "That's CRAP, buddy. I'm a dumbass, and I read your column.")

But I digress. For years, low-information voters have been seen as easy targets, a group that can be manipulated at will by a clever politician. Nuance and policy positions are for pointy-headed liberal losers. All you need is a simplistic slogan: "Mission accomplished!" "We can't cut and run." "He's a flip-flopper." "Jews hate Jesus." You get the idea.

Similarly, complex policy issues are distilled into easy to digest messages: "He'll raise your taxes." "She has San Francisco values." "He'll take away your guns." "Drill here, drill now."

Nationally, we're seeing a major push for low-information voters by the McCain campaign, which seeks to paint Barack Obama as a vapid celeb. "Hot chicks love Obama" is a tag-line at the end of one of McCain's latest ads. (Frankly, I think conceding the hot-chick vote is a bad idea for McCain. I mean, what's the corollary? "Ugly schlubs love McCain"?)

The point is, the campaign seems to think there are lots of fools in America who will decide their presidential vote based on their resentment of uppity celebrities. ("Uppity" being the operative word here.)

Locally, 9th District candidate Nikki Tinker did her best to get out low-information voters — people she perceived would be receptive to messages that painted her opponent as the wrong race and wrong religion. Unfortunately for her — and fortunately for Memphis — there were way fewer dumbasses hereabouts than she was hoping for.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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