Jonah Goldberg

Warning: I'm going to jump the gun and be a curmudgeon about this election now.

So, let me ask you a few questions: Are you an independent? Do you reject "partisan labels"? Do you like to weigh each candidate on the merits rather than simply vote the party line? Do you wait until the last weeks of the presidential election before you make up your mind on whom to vote for, so you can study the issues as much as possible? Do you watch the presidential debates and feel disappointed that you didn't get enough "substance" on "the issues."

Well, bully for you. You might deserve a lollypop, but you don't deserve to run the country. Unfortunately, you (and people like you) do.

November 2 promises to be another in a long line of elections decided by those Americans who are the least engaged, least interested in, and least informed about politics. And even if that's an overstatement, the media will work very, very hard to convince the public and the politicians that "moderates," "swing-voters," "independents" and "undecideds" are the heart and soul of American politics.

Now, let me back up for a moment. Decent, smart and conscientious people are distributed across the political spectrum, including the middle. Also, there are significant differences between, say, a "moderate" and a "swing voter" - or there can be, if you know what you're talking about. And - since it never hurts to flatter the reader - if you're reading this column and you call yourself an independent or undecided, you're still probably not the sort of person I have in mind, since you're actually taking the time to read about politics more than 100 days out from the election.

But as a matter of gross generalization, no segment of voters is less deserving of the high esteem they get from the media and politicians than independents, centrists, moderates, swing voters, undecideds and others we generally call middle-of-the-roaders.

First let me make a simple factual point. There is inherently nothing more intellectually rigorous, morally decent or politically sophisticated about being a centrist. If you have a choice between voting for Nazis and voting for pacifists, how would ticket-splitting be the superior way to go?


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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