William Hamilton: Elections: Who really decides?
Grand County, CO Colorado
A truism of American politics is that about one-third of those who vote are on the Left and about one-third of those who vote are on the Right. We are talking here about people who actually get out to vote or mail in their ballots. OK?
So, right in the Middle, we find one-third of the people who may or may not vote. They think of themselves in a variety of ways: Some like to call themselves swing voters, people who adhere to no specific political party. Some say they are the undecideds. They may lean Left or Right; however, they don’t tune into political news until late in the election cycle. For sure, between the end of the school year and Labor Day, they pay absolutely no attention to what is going on in the world of domestic politics or international affairs.
A sub-set of the undecided is the late deciders. If they vote at all, they make their voting decisions within the last few days of the election cycle. Effective political campaigns go after the undecideds and the late deciders. Ironically, the voters who actually decide the outcome of elections are often the least informed.
One of our human failings is to assume that everyone else knows what we know. They do not. In fact, there are stunning examples of the people in the Middle being totally unaware of what we faithful voters of the Right or of the Left know full well. Political consultants call them: the Sheep, who, ironically, determine the outcome of most elections.
In 1936, when Hitler, in direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles, marched into the demilitarized Rhineland, public opinion pollsters discovered the vast majority of Britons could not find the Rhineland on a map. Actually, the Sheep had a legitimate reason for being unaware that a remilitarized Rhineland was essential to Hitler’s plans for future aggression. They were unaware that Hitler needed the Rhineland so he could build the Siegfried Wall inside the Rhineland so he could hold off the French while he connected Germany to Austria, subdued the Czechs, and devastated Poland.
Meanwhile, British Prime Ministers Stanley Baldwin and, later, Neville Chamberlain, kept telling the British people that Britain’s armed forces were far larger than Hitler’s. Both Baldwin and Chamberlain knew better. British intelligence put the actual facts in front of them. The facts were ignored by everyone except Winston S. Churchill who was being kept informed by “whistle blowers” in the lower ranks of the British government who knew their political masters were putting the retention of political office before patriotism.
But rather than back Hitler down, when it might have been possible to do so, the politicians put remaining in office above their duty to act on the hard intelligence that was piled high on their desks. While not quite traitors, they were certainly treacherous. They flat-out lied to Parliament and to the British people and they failed in their fundamental duty to protect the British “Sheep” from the Nazi “Wolf.”
Here is another example of public unawareness: The British began their occupation of India in 1650, finally granting independence to India in 1947. In 1950, a poll of Indians to determine their feelings about the previous 297 years of British rule was aborted because the pollsters discovered – even though English enjoys the status of subsidiary official language – the vast majority said they were unaware that the English-speaking British had ever set foot in India. Go figure.
During this presidential election cycle, America must decide if she continues along the path toward socialism or returns to free-market capitalism. Winston Churchill famously said: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.” Take your pick.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
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