Intimate Ballots

J.L. Wall

J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he teaches writing to college students and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

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40 Responses

  1. James Hanley says:

    Positing voting as intimacy undermines the possibility of civic action and civic life. An intimate act is private, between two individuals. One’s votes, however, are not between the voter and the candidate, even if the ballot is secret. They are between the voter and the community,

    I hesitate to start this thread with a dismissive comment, but I’d say you’re really over-thinking this.Report

    • J.L. Wall in reply to James Hanley says:

      Oh, quite possibly. But I had my students doing groupwork today, so I had plenty of time to do so.

      That aside, even if I’m overthinking the ad, I do find something troubling about the notion of voting-as-intimate, or voting as private.Report

      • James Hanley in reply to J.L. Wall says:

        I don’t find the idea of voting as intimate/private at all disturbing. We know from economics that we don’t actually have to be working collectively to build structures that work together collectively. And to the extent we feel a need for politics to be more consciously collective, I think we satisfy that more than thoroughly through debate and discussion. I truly can’t quite grasp why there’s any felt need to extend that to the act of voting. Far from feeling like there’s something wrong with voting being private, I feel like there’s a latent denial of any individual privacy in your argument, as though the individual is not his/her own master, but is the property of the society.

        I don’t suggest you intend that in any way; just that it’s the feeling I get from your post.Report

  2. George Turner says:

    The rightwing blogs are already trying to get that ad seen everywhere. 🙂Report

    • J.L. Wall in reply to George Turner says:

      I figured that if I actually forced myself to watch it before writing about it, I’d try to subject everyone else to the same. I’m going back into my self-imposed campaign ad blackout very shortly now…Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to George Turner says:

      They get all riled up by a cute young white girl doing it with one of them, even metaphorically.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        There so upset that they’re kicking themselves for not making this Obama ad themselves. 😀

        This one tops the “Obama gave me a cell-phone” lady.Report

        • KatherineMW in reply to George Turner says:

          I don’t have much of an opinion on the ad overall (it’s rather a silly idea) but “it will piss off racists” is the main point in its favour for me. And the Dems might as well play on their guy’s relative attractiveness. I see it as the Obama campaign’s equivalent to Paul Ryan’s workout pics.Report

        • James Hanley in reply to George Turner says:

          I’m not sure how I feel about the ad, but I’m pretty sure the only people who will be deeply offended were already planning to vote against Obama.

          “Hey, this ad is going to turn off people who already hate the candidate!” is not exactly an meaningful criticism.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to James Hanley says:

            So, as with most political ads of the past six months, it’s not about getting people to swap sides; it’s about convincing the base to show up. “It’s okay to vote! Get excited about voting! We want you wet and ready to vote! Just don’t do any of that “premature-voting” stuff (wink).”Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    There are worse reasons to vote than “I want to vote for the guy who makes me feel good because I voted for him.”

    Shit, that’s why I am a Johnson guy.

    That said, it does feel like there are good reasons to feel good for voting for someone and bad reasons to feel good for voting for someone and, for the life of me, I’m having trouble picking a category.

    I mean, I could see a commercial showing a college-aged male explaining that he knew his friends wouldn’t understand and that his family would be scandalized but… he wanted to vote Republican. “I wanted to vote in a way that made me feel, you know, like I was looking out for my own best interests. It felt good. Hell, it felt *GREAT*.”Report

    • KatherineMW in reply to Jaybird says:

      (How would voting for someone who wants less funding for colleges and higher tuition be voting in your own best interests?)Report

      • Jaybird in reply to KatherineMW says:

        Do you want my rant about supply vs. demand? It’s counter-intuitive but it’s actually pretty good, I think.Report

        • KatherineMW in reply to Jaybird says:

          I’ve heard the gist of the argument; the issue with it is that a college education isn’t a pure issue of “demand” any more, as it’s basically required to get a decent job. (Stats on education v. wages bear this out.) So get rid of funding, and people will just keep going but end up deeper in debt over it.Report

          • Trumwill in reply to KatherineMW says:

            Katherine, the argument (if Jaybird is thinking of what I am thinking of) is not so much “if you make it cheaper, more people will want it” but rather “if you make it cheaper by making somebody else pay for it, the costs will continue to rise.”

            The governor doing the most talking right now about actually bringing down the cost of college – as opposed to shifting the costs to the state – is Rick Perry of all people.Report

            • KatherineMW in reply to Trumwill says:

              In BC we had a left-wing government that actually required a tuition freeze by the universities for several years. It kept costs down (as in, around the $2500-$3000/yr range). The right wing were even more hostile to that solution than they are to bursaries and ditched it as soon as they got into office.Report

        • Murali in reply to Jaybird says:

          Yes please. Even if she doesn’t want it that rant sounds interestingReport

          • Jaybird in reply to Murali says:

            (I gave it a lot when we were discussing health care reform)

            Price is a function of supply and demand, specifically, a change in the price reflects a change in the relationship between supply and demand. So if prices are going up, it can mean that supply, even if it’s growing, is growing at a smaller rate than the rate at which demand is increasing. So when we see a good that is seen as a necessary good that has the price keep going up, we know that that’s because the supply isn’t growing as quickly as the demand for it is.

            To respond to this dynamic with free money without addressing the supply issue will actually do little more than create demand without doing anything else which means that, according to this formula, the price will respond by going up.

            If you want the price to go down, you need to address the rate of growth of supply instead of adding more demand.Report

  4. Rufus F. says:

    So, voting third party would be akin to some sort of non-procreative sex act?Report

  5. Kolohe says:

    Takes about a minute then you turn on the TV wondering how it went?

    yeah, the analogy is close enough.Report

  6. So, because I’m in that kind of mood, I’ll just throw caution totally to the wind and admit that I find the ad charming, appealing and fun.Report

    • Jason M. in reply to Russell Saunders says:

      Saint Ronaldus Maximus Reagan would have thought so too.

      “I know what it’s like to pull the Republican lever for the first time, because I used to be a Democrat myself, and I can tell you it only hurts for a minute and then it feels just great.”Report

  7. Pyre says:

    Well, at least, Obama Girl is a little more low-key this time around.Report

  8. dhex says:

    our culture requires at least one vote or die style puddle of dumb every four years or the moon will crash into the earth.Report

  9. DBrown says:

    First off, it is you reading in the sexual aspects; also, last I checked this country is proud to have privacy when casting a vote. Finally, all the shit on public TV uses sex indirectly to sell their wares – free market baby! Gotta laugh if this ad makes anyone ‘uncomfortable’ who grew up in this sexual based culture – please, grow up.

    Hell, even Raygun made an ad that likened pulling the lever for him in a sexual manner and this is back in the early eighties… .Report

  10. zic says:

    The sex appeal of young women has been a marketing force forever. We use their beautiful bodies to sell cars, after shave, TV shows, beer. . . the list is nearly endless.

    Always, just under the hood, is this implication: if you buy this, you, too can get hot women. . .

    And so when hot young women capitalize on their sales potential to get other young women to vote, it’s a scandal.

    Yeah, right. Women’s allure is to be sold, not used to determine what they might want (like control of their reproductive organs or a social safety net).

    Or maybe it’s discomfort that hot young women not only want to do it, but might really prefer to do it with the black guy?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to zic says:

      Then we can ask “where are the young women voters?” when we run someone like Dukakis.

      “He’s not very good looking”, we can answer.Report

      • zic in reply to Jaybird says:

        While he ran for president, we both lived on Perry St. in Brookine. It’s three blocks long, not a big street. As neighbors to say ‘hello,’ to, chat about the weather and how the kids are doing, everyone pretty much knew everyone. Including Mike and Kitty.

        And I honestly believe he lost heart and gave up. Kitty struggled with the fishbowl of running for president, and her alcoholism made that fishbowl even more difficult. He put her first. For that, he deserved to not be president. And he was a better man then we give him credit for being.

        Some of Ann Romney’s comments have brought Kitty to mind this election cycle, too. Of all politicians who’ve run for office, in this way, Romney reminds me most of Dukakis.Report

    • Kim in reply to zic says:

      Yes, women are routinely used in the Iowa Caucuses, to guide male voting behavior.
      This is why I want a REAL election, not just the circus that is the Democratic primary.

      Sadly, the Republicans seem unwilling to oblige in actually running politicians this year.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to zic says:

      Good comment zic. I wondered about what you’re getting at myself, but couldn’t quite come up with the right words. I’m not sure it’s the sexuality of the ad that has conservatives all hot and bothered. It’s something else, since as you point out, it’s part of our Established Traditions that hot young women trade their sexuality to promote all sorts of other institutional arrangements, usually with the underlying expectation that doing X will get that person laid. By a hot young woman.

      So the sexuality of the add isn’t what bothers people, it seems to me, but what she’s trading her sexuality for. And as you say, she’s trading on it to further empower women. That’s a conservative no-no. Women are only justified in trading their sexuality for cold hard cash to further the expression of men’s desires. Giving it away for free is just slutty.Report