POLITICS

“Undecided” Voters are Not Undecided, They’re Morally Torn

Those are two very different things

Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

The mythical “undecided voter” is not only on the minds, maps, and to-do lists of both the Biden and the Trump campaigns, but these mysterious unicorns continue to catch the ire of meme-makers and tweeters internet-wide. And they are regarded with great disgust. The thinking: how could you possibly witness the revulting acts of Donald Trump and still have no idea for whom to vote? For those of us squarely in the Biden camp, this remains astounding. The comedy naturally follows: how can you tie your own shoes? Have you been in a coma? “Do you know not to eat bees?”

While my own political stripes are easy to spot, as I sip my morning brew from my “Cup o’ Joe” mug, I come from a very purple place and love a very purple group of friends and family. My Facebook feed is equally both blue and red, split almost 50/50, filled — like many of yours perhaps — with friends from my hometown, as well as those from work, college, graduate school, and “the greater world.” Yes, we’ve been siloed. Yes, we shout to our echo chambers. Yes, we live in a politically divisive time. But I know some of these so-called undecided voters. At the very least, I have overheard them in conversation, be it in the physical world or on the great Face place. And they are not undecided. They are torn. Morally.

I can feel you tense up. How can you possibly be torn? What is to be torn about? Especially in light of the last weekend, as events from the White House moved from disgusting to insane to grotesque, I stand with you fully flabbergasted. What is not said on the news, though, what is not spoken publicly for cameras, is that the dirty dealings of the Internet have convinced pockets of these undecideds of the one thing more morally reprehensible than Donald Trump: that Joe Biden is a pedophile.

Yes, publicly, the criticism has been that Joe is “sleepy.” The officially unofficial messaging from the president has directly questioned Biden’s mental acuity. Even here on the left, we have watched the campaign, the DNC, and the first debate with an eye on Joe’s energy. To stir the pot, the president demanded a drug test of Joe Biden before the first debate, insinuating that he required uppers to stay alert. But here in New York, and on my sickened screen, the chatter of “Creepy Joe” has turned vomitous. A great number of people who voted, perhaps, for Obama and then for Trump, are well aware of the danger that Donald Trump poses to the nation, to the economy, and to truth, but they simply cannot cast a vote for a guy they believe is a child predator. Don’t question why they believe it. You’ll be missing the point. It is the one lie that is working.

But Julio, you say, that’s old news. (Hey, I’m Julio. Good to meet you.) The latest PedoBiden accusation was a retweet from the president three weeks ago. Well, welcome to a new viral world. Yes, it only takes hours for a meme to go viral online, for an essay or a photo or a TikTok. Then the media cycle moves on, relentless in its need to put something new on more than a billion screens. But just as viruses get really deadly for us when they cross from animals to humans, our Internet chatter gets equally menacing when it crosses from the digital world to the physical world. And it takes some time to fully proliferate. It took three weeks, after all, for coronavirus to kill Herman Cain. In the physical world, a virus needs time to infect, take hold, and grow — in a human body or in a political one.

Donald Trump understands this. He always has. And so the Biden camp must, too. We cannot continue to talk about how unique an opponent Trump is, how we have to really throw out that ol’ political playbook, without diving deeper into the murk to truly understand how the murk works. We can counter-message Biden’s acuity, but just repeating the word “decency” for the next 30 days is not going to move anyone “undecided” into the blue column. Biden must address publicly, in the physical world, the virus that has jumped from the digital into the political body.

Conventional wisdom says no, do not add oxygen to flames sparked by the other side. Further, let Trump hang himself with his madness. I have news for you: no one cares. This week’s political theater is entertaining to people. It is a massive distraction from the insidious messaging going on beneath the surface. Biden has to address the real virus. Until he does, undecided voters, at least those of which I speak, will smile and remain torn. And then they will vote for Trump. Just ask Hillary, “The Murderer.”

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Where the personal, pandemic and the political meet // juliovincent.com • @juliovincent

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