Pundits continue to, well, pundit, over the greatest mystery of the young 21st century. They are as obsessed with this mystery as so many of us are puzzled by it. I refer, of course, to the fact that many citizens continue to tell pollsters they remain on the proverbial fence. They are undecideds, still unsure if they favor Obama, Romney or a third party candidate, such as Gary Johnson (Libertarian) or Jill Stein (Green Party) for president.
How can this be, a mere week or so from election day? Just think of the time we have had to observe and assess the candidates. Consider the debates (including the Republican reality show primaries featuring Mitt versus Rick, Michelle, Herman, Newt, the Donald, etc.), the conventions, the bazillion ads and a year or more of non-stop campaign features in print/tv/and other media. I confess - I'm skeptical about these people - I think they are largely "undecided" because of the attention that the “undecided” identification entails. They are the ones who get to ask questions in a town hall "debate;" they are the minor celebrities who appear every night on national news broadcasts.
Whatever accounts for this mystery, the challenge seems to be: What will bring these people to resolution, to a firm and final choice to go blue, red or something else on Nov 6?
Will it be on based which candidate they decide is most likely to lead with the best policies on Iran, Israel, immigration, Supreme Court appointments, the economy, women’s reproductive rights, Medicare, climate change, green energy, the environment, separation (or integration) of church and state - what?
Well, none of the above, in my opinion. I think it will ultimately depend on the character of the undecided voters. Those of a certain character will definitely go with the president; those of a quite different character will vote Republican.
For their benefit, I offer a REAL Wellness Character Self-Assessment (RWCSA). If YOU are an undecided voter, take the RWCSA and you will have your candidate. Simply add your score, read the interpretation and your struggle is over. You'll know, based on the character analysis, how you must vote on November 6, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
If you, like me, decided long ago who you favored based upon the issues, the nature of the political parties and your clear preference for the personality of one of the choices, please take the test anyway. It will serve as a confirmation that you are indeed poised to do the right thing on November 6.
A REAL Wellness Character Self-Assessment
Indicate your position about each of the following twenty statements on a scale of one to three. Let “1” represent the strongest possible disagreement with the statement; let “3” represent unreserved agreement with the statement. Choose “2” if you don't feel strongly or are undecided.
A line is provided for marking your numerical assessment at the beginning of each statement. After reading the statement, return to this line and enter your numerical ranking on it. The line has been placed at the beginning of the sentence to make it easier to score the assessment upon completion.
All twenty statements begin with the words:
I favor or am predisposed to ...
- the application of reason and science to understanding the universe and solving human problems.
- the enjoyment of life here and now while developing my talents to the fullest.
- respect for common moral decencies, including altruism, integrity, honesty, truthfulness and responsibility more so than "commandments" or other rules based upon revelation or religious tenets.
- an open and pluralistic society.
- the idea that democracy is the best guarantee of human rights against authoritarian elites and repressive majorities.
- a culture that cultivates the art of negotiation and compromise as a means of resolving differences and achieving mutual understanding.
- efforts to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
- support for the absolute separation of church and state, as affirmed by JFK in 1960.
- environmental protections, even if safeguards temporarily limit job creation and access to energy sources that reduce our dependence on Mideast oil.
- explanations about the world that are not supernatural in nature.
- the right to privacy for all citizens.
- adult freedoms to exercise reproductive choices with access to comprehensive and informed health care information and services, to express their sexual preferences, to fulfill their aspirations and to die with dignity.
- the notion that scientific discovery and technology are the surest paths for the betterment of human life.
- the idea that ethics, moral principles or normative standards to live by are best discovered together, tested by their consequences and amenable to critical, rational guidance.
- a conviction that the moral education of children is best nourished by reason and compassion.
- ending the unconstitutional practice of opening or closing public events with prayer or religious symbols (as well as opposing the imposition of references to "God" on currency and in the Pledge of Allegiance, participation in the annual "National Day of Prayer," funding of "faith-based" initiatives.
- skepticism about untested claims to knowledge while being open to novel ideas and new ways of thinking.
- a disdain for philosophies/theologies of despair and ideologies of violence.
- a preference for optimism over pessimism, hope over despair, learning instead of dogma, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness and reason over blind faith.
- a commitment to promoting opportunities for all citizens to fully realize their best and noblest capacities as a human beings.
Scoring and Interpretation
If your score is between 20 and 34, Romney is your guy but please vote for Obama anyway!
If your score is between 46 and 60, you will want four more years for Obama. The president is your clear choice on November 6.
If you scored between 35 and 45, you really earned the title "undecided," until now. This score indicates to me that your values are more Democratic than Republican, even if you are not thrilled with the president. You certainly are more like Obama than Romney. I hope you will go with the incumbent.
My own score of 60 puts me at odds with the president on many matters I consider of grave consequence for REAL wellness and the kind of society I favor. I much prefer Jill Stein of the Green Party and, if she had any chance, she would get my vote. But, alas, she does not so she won't. I consider the election of the Romney/Ryan ticket a potential catastrophe almost beyond belief. It's too bad we do not have another viable political party for those who want a secular government consistent with the United States Constitution and a president who does not feel he has to end every speech by asking God to bless everybody and to bless the United States of America. What the hell does that mean, anyway? Is Obama pandering to the pious prejudices of the majority or does he think a sky god of some kind sends a blessing now and then, if asked to do so at the end of a speech and what happens if a blessing is sent? It's maddening.
The Secular Coalition for America (SCA), a lobbying group that represents atheists and non-theists, released its “2012 Presidential Candidate Scorecard” last week. The scorecard graded the candidates on scales of A to F based upon the candidates’ public statements and actions in five areas and seventeen issues were considered. Many were similar to the above REAL Wellness Character Self-Assessment. Romney, not surprisingly got an F, Obama a C, Gary Johnson a B and my favorite, Stein a magnificent A.
So, there you have it. If you are undecided, this should help you become decided. If you were clear and firm before, you might be clearer and firmer now.
All good wishes, be well and let's hope for the best, as we see things, on November 6.
(Note: Most of the statements are based on "The Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles" that appear on the cover of each issue of Free Inquiry, a publication of the Center for Free Inquiry and the Council on Secular Humanism.)