Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gutting the Vote

Political analysts can natter and squawk all they want about what’s going on in the minds of voters in America today, but their sights are fastened on too lofty a source. The naked truth is that the American voter doesn’t use his or her mind when it comes to candidates or issues—the choice comes from the gut.

It’s enough to make Plato or Dante dyspeptic. The gut is the new brain. Talk radio is its digestive tract, cable TV its enzyme. Guess what that makes the gullible voter?

Campaign managers and talk show hosts know. They bank on the gut being unable to digest more than one issue at a time—such time ranging from the length of a succulent sentence to the length of a bacchanalian campaign. They bank on scaring you, then comforting and possibly even inspiriting you. The heart is offal before the unlikelihood of anyone even noticing it's missing. They get you in the gut. If it gets you to the polls and delivers your vote to them, amen.

The table was set earlier today with unappetizing candidates in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Kentucky primaries. Insiders and outsiders accusing each other of being, of all things—one issue at a time, please!—insiders and outsiders. If you look to see who wants to “throw the bums out,” you’ll see it’s more bums. Two tough birds, incumbent U.S. Senators Arlen Specter (the artist formerly known as a Republican) of Pennsylvania and Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln are seeing their gooses half-cooked and trying desperately to roll over onto a better side.

Voting from the gut is so precarious that half of America went to the polls in this decade to elect a reformed drinker President of the United States—twice—because he was someone they wanted to have a beer with. (Just one?) As the Commander in Chief of Gut Choices would have it, his gut was the decider. It’s enough to render St. Augustine… or Will Rogers… colicky.

Gut positions? After U.S. Senator George LeMieux publicly broke ranks with his friend of fifteen years, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, the man who chose him for the Senate seat, LeMieux couldn’t wait to refuse to support Crist’s own non-partisan candidacy for the U.S. Senate, calling his decision "a gut check.” LeMieux’s gut-wrenching should not be confused with intestinal fortitude.

Our newest U.S. Senator, Scott Brown, counseled college graduates “…if your gut tells you otherwise, then go with your gut." I wonder if his inspiration was a man who previously held Massachusetts’ Senate seat, gutsy John Quincy Adams, or the crease in the former male model’s gut from the centerfold of Cosmopolitan magazine.

I don’t gut-begrudge anybody per se who gets free gut-counseling, be it gut-checking or gut-listening. It’s certainly not gut-envy. But it’s a bellyful.

Can you imagine the fallout from a raw body politic fused to Rush Limbaugh’s paunch while he shoots from the gut? Or is that hitting below the belt? How about the bellyaching of Glenn I-Will-Say-Anything-For-A-Fast-Buck Beck? Get you right in the you-know-where? Calling them as I see them, The Duodenum Twins are the pap, gurgle and plop of the air, and if ever they tune in to their own reckless gut-slinging, they’ll probably drown in their own tripe-talk.

The only good advice my gut ever gave me was to let me know it was time to stop eating. I have no appetite for being led by the nose, ear or any other organ that comes to mind, my mind, although I like to believe I don’t lack the guts for it. It’s enough to give me reflux.


  1. Jack Welch demonstrated that acting “Straight from the Gut” can’t be all that bad.
    Rik Misiura PT
    Central Park Physical Therapy

  2. Ray, this is wonderful. You synthesize so many aspects into one cohesive whole.

    Do you know that the stomach has it's own brain? I once mentioned to a doctor I went to that I thought that the stomach had its own brain because if someone tried to hit me my stomach would contract before I realized what could happen, and he told me that the stomach does have it's own brain. So what does that say about people who vote from their guts? They should try to find the other brain they have and listen to that one first.

    Love, Joan

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  4. Agreed.

    People give their guts too much credit these days. The only thing you should consult with your gut is whether what you are about to put into your mouth will make you vomit.

    Also, 100 points for mentioning Dante. If he saw what passes for political commentary these days, he'd probably go back into exile.

  5. Ray, your Blog about voters using their gut instead of their brain was very well timed and accurate. I would also say, that many people vote for a candidate on just one issue, like abortion. Many emails are sent through a paid subscription service to get to as many people as possible spreading lies and fear. The internet has been exploited with so much propaganda, that it is getting harder to find the truth about an issue or candidate. During the Bush-Kerry election, the internet became such a powerful deceptive tool that it made Kerry, someone who actually fought and risked his life for our country, look like a coward.
    Bush, who never fought in a war and tried to avoid the draft, look like an American Hero.
    In general, the average American that actually votes in an election, never really checks the facts on the issues and positions of the candidates. Fox News consistently called our President "Osama" instead, of his real name, Obama during the election; and, even after, he was elected President. Fox News told all the schools not to show his Inauguration Speech. Many school boards banned teachers from showing it in the classroom. So, in conclusion, the media, internet, social networks, emails, and newspapers have distorted the facts. Voters are finding great difficulty seeking the truth in a safe, non-bias place to really know the candidates and issues. So, they either vote for a candidate based upon one issue, like anti-gay marriage or pro life; or, they simply use their gut as their brain as they sip their TEA, read the newest edition of "Stormfront"; and vote for their Libertarian Candidates, like Ron Paul's son in Kentucky.

  6. Mlle Vache believed Monsieur Le Renard to be more even-handed. Indeed Mr. Limbaugh and Mr. Beck are carnival barkers for the side show with the elephant. The side show with the ass (how appropriate, no?) is represented by the likes of Rachel Madcow (now relation thank you very much), Keith "Cornell School of Farming" Olberman, and Ed Schultz. Are you saying that what these people do applies less foot pounds to the wrnching of the gut than the others do? The issue isn't the gut-wrenchingness of all these people Monsieur, it is the fact that Les Americains on both sides of the issues get their "facts" from these people rather than gathering information themselves. Doug Edwards, Conkite, Trout, and the master Murrow himself presented news. What is the garbage coming out of Drudge and Huffington and the like? People have no reliable source in media to get info from so they choose sides behind the bullying pulpits of talking heads and become inured to it. You are surprised at the lack of moral integrity by Monsieur Lemieux but applaud the same lack of integrity of a 30 year Repub like Spector crossing over to whore himself for the easiest path back to a job he shouldn't have in the first place? What would you want the American voter to do Monsieur? Become Obama zombies like so much of the youth following the butterflies in their guts that tell them he is too pretty and too smart to fail? What do we tell these young people now that he has failed miserable: 10% unemployment; 3 terrorist attacks since Xmas; a porous non-existent immigration policy; ad nauseum. Indeed the gut voting needs to end. But explain to me Monsieur, when politicos have zero integirty how one does anything but take a chance and vote with one's gut? Elsie goes back to her corner of the lea for more chewing on her cud. A bientot mes amis. (Dante! pheh. Machiavelli!!!)