Personal Presidential Issues

I like taking surveys.

That should come as no surprise to you. After all, I'm a blogger...someone who thrives on telling the world what I think about everything and anything under the sun.

Serendipity came for a visit a few months ago when I got one of those emails from Zogby asking if I wanted to take their surveys. When I see Zogby poll results cited in the media, I've often wondered how representative the responses are of an opinionated and diverse cross-section of the population. I've questioned how well the responses have represented me.

After all, I'm decent looking five foot six and a half (claiming 5' 7" officially) woman who lives in LA. I have black, Irish and Native American heritage. I'm not a member of any political party but I've voted in every election I could since I was eighteen. I believe in God more than I believe in myself. I'm a vegetarian who needs to get better at sustainable living. I adore Depeche Mode like there's no tomorrow, and I'm a mom who has a lot to say, just like you do too, I'm sure.

So, I figured, sure, why not? Why wait for someone else to represent me when I can represent myself?

The surveys usually come once a week but, for the sake of time, I usually do only one or two per month. There's always a question asking how I rate President Bush's job performance. Then there's the question that wants to know what I think is the most pressing issue facing America. I can only pick one pressing issue. I dislike that question. After all, it's pretty hard for me to, for example, pick health care or education but not both.

Racism is never a choice on the list. Neither is gender inequality or the extremes of wealth and poverty.

The survey makers also ask questions that I suppose are trying to help them figure out what demographic I belong to. They always want to know if I shop at Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, they don't have a box to check that says " When hell freezes over," so I have to check "never" instead.

They also always ask if I'm into Nascar. I really think they should have a response option like, "Um, is that where they race cars around a track?" But, they don't, so I suppose that's why I always answer, "No".

So, I did one of these surveys the other day and they had a gazillion questions about our potential presidential candidates. This question in particular gave me pause:

Which of the following personal issues is of the greatest concern to you in electing a president?
(Choose only ONE.)

Rudolph Guiliani's multiple divorces
Hillary Clinton's marriage to Bill Clinton
Mitt Romney being a Mormon
Fred Thompson's young wife
John McCain's age
Barack Obama's race
John Edwards wife's illness
Bill Richardson's ethnicity
Michael Bloomberg being accused of sexual harassment
Not sure

My first reaction was that this line of questioning just shows how typical it is that people equate being a different race (Obama) or ethnicity (Richardson) with clearly immoral and wrong things like Bloomberg's alleged sexual harassment. Seriously, I am a little annoyed that they consider race and ethnicity "personal issues".

Wow. Great choice of wording, survey makers. Someone give y'all a raise or something.

Then I started to wonder what Elizabeth Edward's being ill really has to do with anything? We should be praying for her, not politicizing her health.

John McCain's age? Haven't the survey makers heard that being 70-something is the new 50?

Rudy G's divorces? Really, I'm sure it hurts his heart more than it's hurting mine.

Hillary Clinton's marriage? Is her relationship with Bill supposed to tell me anything about what's she's going to do about those pressing issues?

Mitt Romney as a Mormon. Okaay...and I care why? Am I supposed to worry he's gonna start marrying interns instead of, ahem, doing other things with them?

Fred Thompson and his wife. He's an actor and this is Hollywood. There are a lot of old men with young, jail bait looking wives out here. Not saying it's right, but that's the way it is. And I don't see America switching off the TV or boycotting theatres because of it.

Bloomberg? Has he even announced his candidacy? And isn't he innocent until proven guilty?

On the other hand, they left Dennis Kucinich out of this question. So maybe I should deduce from this that Dennis has no personal issues, and therefore, I should vote for him. Wouldn't that be interesting. Dennis K. as President of the United States of America...because he has no personal issues.

Really, who among us doesn't have issues? You and I both know that there are some people who have definite, let me go look in the mirror to see if I'm one of them.

Ok, self assessment complete. Yes, I have some issues. And now that I know my race is an issue, I suppose I should add that to my list of "Liz's Issues To Resolve Before The Apocalypse".

I know, I know. These "personal issues" are real things that some folks are going to base their vote on, so I shouldn't really be so taken aback by this question. But, I am.

My answer choice was, of course, "None/other". I wonder how many other Americans taking the survey answered the same.


Sundry said…
Okay, your comment on Mitt Romney made me laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing your take on the poll. They really do seemed designed to confirm somebody's expectations more than to really gather information. Sigh.
West said…
It's really interesting how the phrasing of the question affects the answer.
Liz Dwyer said…
Rereading that, hours later, it makes me laugh as well! And yes, I'm sighing right with you.

Phrasing, and the intent behind a question as well.
Keigh said…
I had "none/other", as well.

And why do people care so much about other people's ethnicity/race?

Who cares---I wonder if most Americans could tell me about any of their political ideals or platforms?
Mizrepresent said…
You are too funny, had me rolling...and i totally agree with the race thing, an issue, gives new meaning to being "blackballed"? Great site!
Liz Dwyer said…
The Letter K,
Thanks for coming to visit! Folks care about ethnicity/race because it's one of the ways we've learned to figure out where folks are on the social scale. We determine someone's worth based on race/ethnicity. That's why being white isn't one of the personal issues. Whiteness is seen by many as being as the norm/ideal. Good question about the ideals/platforms. I think the average American knows what they believe but doesn't see candidates that they think are going to put those beliefs into action.

Glad you came by to visit! LOL, blackballed!
I hope you check out Dennis Kucinich at his site and at YouTube.
He is the ONLY one that speaks for me!
Liz Dwyer said…
The Tarotlaydee,
Thanks for coming to visit! Of course Dennis K. has more going for him than some folks give him credit for. I'm only being a bit sarcastic to suggest that the only thing he has going for is his presumed lack of "personal issues". He has good ideas and he often seems to be the only genuine person in some of the debates...doesn't give the canned, vetted answers most of the others do.
Miz JJ said…
Those surveys are terrible. Part of my job is to do surveys and those are some poorly worded surveys. Damn.

Lol @ Mitt Romney. Everytime I see him I just think of that show "Big Love". I know it's wrong, but I do.
Anonymous said…
We had a very interesting conversation at church last Wednesday regarding homosexuality. My pastor who I respect immensely spoke about the hypocrisy of people. Especially how some would rather have someone who supposedly has great moral record, yet decidedly heartless be their leader versus having someone who is openly gay but in a committed relationship, and notably fair and honest, be their leader. After sitting in this conversation and listening to these high touting black folks debate the ability of those in leadership based off of their personal lives, it really helps me understand why a survey would have those type of questions asked.
velvet said…
The made a big stink about Bill Clinton and pot, not to mention the canoodling in the Oval Office, but we now have an ex-coke snorting former alcoholic (who bankrupted two companies, didn't he?) in the White House. I don't even know why this stuff matters anymore. Supposedly, "values" are a big issue to much of middle America yet they turned out in numbers big enough to re-elect him.

Maybe I'm too jaded. Honestly, I don't care about a candidates personal problems as long as they don't affect their job performance. Are they going to be a good leader who's going to try to move our country forward or solve some of the issues that need addressing? Are they going to be strong and use prudence in international affairs?

It's ridiculous to attack a person's character based on criteria unrelated to their ability to govern. Just my $.02.
Ian Lidster said…
I'm a sucker for surveys, like you. I want to get my two cents in. Loved your suggested responses. As for McCain's age, Winston Churchll was nearly 70 when he first became British prime minister, and then he led them through the war.
Lydia said…
Like you said in Thursday's blog when you took your sons to Hollywood, we loooove to focus on what's not important or even absurd. Everytime their is a disaster impacting the lives and hearts of many, 9/11, Katrina, Minnesota, we forget about "issues" and hope that we have leaders who are intelligent, decisive, compassionate and empathetic among other things.
Liz Dwyer said…
Miz JJ,
I'm glad it's not just me that thinks it's poorly worded. Glad to have your professional opinion as well! I read that Mitt Romney said he disagreed with polygamy but, unfortunately for him, the association sticks and I'm sure shows like "Big Love" don't help his efforts to redefine himself. I've never seen the show but can you even imagine sharing a husband with two other women???

It seems to me that nobody truly knows the life, the feelings, needs, and tests of another. But, I think it'd be rather difficult for someone who is heartless to be genuinely moral. Again, what bugs me most about this survey is that they seem to be suggesting that a person's race and/or ethnicity can somehow be moral issues, even though they call them "personal" issues.

America loves a story of redemption and I think that was a huge part of the appeal of Bush. His team sold him as someone who found redemption and turned himself around. I think we should believe in the power of redemption but yeah, that doesn't necessarily have a thing to do with what policies he was going to put into action or what other things may have been going on with the political machine behind him.

Good point about Churchill. The really odd thing is that folks will watch 80 year-old Hugh Hefner on TV getting his freak on with three women, but will think someone like McCain is too old to be president.
Liz Dwyer said…
You were leaving your comment while I was writing mine! I think you are so right! It's the overarching attributes of compassion, love,and understanding combined with a sense of justice that make the best leaders.
I would have answered the same, just as I always leave the box for "race" blank wherever asked because in my opinion, it doesn't tell them anything relevant or important about me.

As a child, I was offended by the Crayola Company including a crayon called "flesh" in the box of 64. It was a pale pink. Yes, Caucasian is seen as the default setting, but in reality, "white" people are far outnumbered in the world's population.

If all those candidates can be summed up by one "issue," they should be running for bumper stickers, not president.
Liz Dwyer said…
I remember being a little girl and holding that flesh-colored crayon next to my arm and being frustrated that it didn't match my skin color. I think I felt a little bit better when I realized that it didn't match the skin color of anyone in my family, not even my Irish dad. He definitely wasn't pink...unless he got a bit sunburned!
Jameil said…
lmao!!! i'm like who cares about ANY of this crap?! i just want to know what you're going to do to make life better for millions of americans who are not among the richest people in the world.
Liz Dwyer said…
For real! I wish they'd spend more time talking about real stuff...not this stuff. Yawn.

Then again, our Mayor out here in LA is embroiled in a cheating scandal and it does make him look pretty bad. His cheating is so off the hook that you do start to wonder if the reason progress ain't happening here is that he's been catting around with a reporter and not focusing on his job. It's a total crazy soap opera. And I do mean crazy!

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