People Versus Demographics

Yes, this a somewhat political post … but it isn’t about what I believe or who I’m voting for. This post is about one of the things that drives me crazy in modern politics, the thing that pushes people into corners instead of trying to bring them together.

And it all starts with my Ford truck.

The Ford F250 crew cab truck seats six, features an eight food bed, towing package and a 6.7 liter eight cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine. This is a truck built for torque, not for speed. The Beast, as we call said truck, makes it easy to tow a horse trailer and hard to park in small garages.

My truck doesn’t have leather seats or a Bluetooth-enabled stereo system. The grey interior matches the grey floor. There is no carpet. It barely fits in my garage and never fits in at a valet station. Despite its astounding 20MPG fuel rating (when not towing) and ability to run on B20 biodiesel, I have ecologically-minded friends who refuse to ride in The Beast.

So there’s my truck. And because I own that truck as part of my six acre farm in Loganville, Georgia, a demographer can try to determine how I will vote. I’m sure you formed an opinion just reading the description of this diesel-swilling gun-rack-ready livestock-towing squirrel-crushing wonder of American automotive engineering.

And you would be wrong.

When I’m driving said truck, country music will never be on the radio. My radio presets are classic rock, alternative, NPR, news, news-talk and jazz … or I might be listening to podcasts and MP3s. I might be driving that truck to Starbucks … or karate … or a friend’s house for dinner.

I work for one of the largest technology companies in the world. I have two college degrees, one black belt, one horse, four goats, four cats, a barn and a donkey. I play drums in a jazz band. I run a science fiction convention. I have an IRA and 401K. I give money to NPR, Pandora and Netflix.

People who call my house for political opinion polls hate me. Their polls are designed to mine data pointing left or right. I drive the damn thing into a series of corkscrews not seen since filming test pilot sequences for The Right Stuff.

Why reduce what I think and how I vote down to “blue”or “red”?
Why do that for anyone else?

I’ve had this feeling for years that both political parties actively work to herd people across a line, collecting them into corners where they are more easily defined. It’s the equivalent of Coke & Pepsi herding people into little red & blue houses … it doesn’t make the product different, it just simplifies the marketing. That approach only works when there are two choices, which a soda company can’t use when they have multiple competitors. A “Pepsi tastes like crap” ad doesn’t automatically drive people to drink Coke.

Demographers and statisticians that can’t handle the contents of my Ford F250 need to work on their game. I think we deserve better than “Red versus Blue” in our political system (no offense to the brilliant web series of the same name). Some of us walk right past Coke & Pepsi in the grocery store. If the folks selling sugar water have figured this out, why can’t politicians see the same thing?

One Reply to “People Versus Demographics”

  1. It’s interesting how a nation that values freedom and independence has citizens that willfully herd themselves into the convenient boxes. I guess picking a side is easier than thinking about individual candidates and values. It’s easier for big donors and policy influencers as well, so they have no incentive to change the way the system works.

    As the Red and Blue become more polarized, I hope that more of us will defect and the movement snowballs into policies that will help us continue to grow as a nation. Even a modest gain would be better than this Red v. Blue ungovernable stalemate.

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