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Don’t trust a gambler this fall

Democratic Voices

Posted: June 24, 2008 1:46 a.m.
Updated: August 25, 2008 5:02 a.m.
We the electorate cast our votes for those running for office for various reasons: Often, our votes are issued in support of ideals; to promote specific issues; in response to a positive public relations campaign; or even simply by what our gut tells us about a candidate.

Often, especially in American politics, some of the electorate cast ballots as a vote against an opposing candidate as well. This "negative vote" may help defeat a candidate or quash a proposed issue. Sometimes voters act only by what "their gut" tells them: they "just don't like" the candidate running for an office, so they vote for an opponent.

When we speak about our "gut feelings," psychologists tell us that in fact these are not random feelings at all. What we call our intuition is simply physiological reactions based on subtle packets of information that are processed by the brain. One measure of maturity may include the logical process to ignore emotion in favor of gathering data and form conclusions based on solid data.

In other words, good decisions come from utilizing good information. Bad decisions often arise from making up one's mind before reviewing the facts, then ignoring new information that contradicts a conclusion that was already reached.

While living by knee-jerk reaction alone sounds quite infantile, imagine if we ran our lives based on impartial data and only following our gut.

Last year, an aspiring private investigator asked me "how much intuition do you use when researching criminal cases and performing background checks." I carefully thought about this. Then I slowly and clearly answered "none."

She was surprised. Somehow she thought that P.I. work is all ESP and luck.

I told her that my firm checks every court record, interviews every witness, and follows every lead to the fullest extent that we are able. In P.I. work, there is no luck, no ESP, and no guessing. We are thorough, patient, and comprehensive. We miss nothing because we check everything. I explained that we are not lucky: rather, we are thorough.

My other firm is a private security company. I imagine if I directed my security staff to apply careful diligence to protect lives and property only when I had a hunch something might be at risk. Rather, we care for our clients without fail because every security officer every moment possible is alert, diligent, and ready.

We could say that we could manage a country well along the same principles. Conversely, a poor way to administer for the safety and well being of the nation is to base decisions solely on instinct and intuition.

Recent revelations about what it is like inside the Bush White House by former Press Secretary Scott McClellan have been both shocking and expected. An administration shrouded in secrecy was not a surprise. The cabinet and high-ranking Republican officials functioning in mechanical lock-step, from reading the same talking points, to collectively slinging viscous personality attacks on cue, to collectively denying the problem actually exists, is nothing more than what we witnessed for seven and a half years.

But perhaps the most illuminating and surprising element of McClellan's expose is the distressing notion that President Bush heavily relied on his gut to make major decisions.

Yes, we knew the man is verbally challenged. Yes, our President might even be a tad slow at times. But apparently he was and he is a gambling man. Risking our treasure, our reputation, and our lives, according to McClellan, Bush prefers following his intuition over the facts when it comes to caring for our nation.

Like a shell game gone bad, the peas of victory, called weapons of mass destruction, al-Qaida in Iraq, or a spontaneous democratic uprising of support, where never under any walnut shell from the start. These are examples of Bush's gut failing us all.

McClellan has recently been quite vocal about Bush's gambling and risk- taking mentality. It is reckless to roll the dice with lives of our brave soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen. It is immature to run any business, enterprise, and especially any government, purely based on "instinct" and just "a feeling."

It is now clear that when the facts do not support his positions, Bush chooses to ignore the any data that erode his positions. Bush's bad policies and immature decisions are precisely what continues to degrade our nation.

The damage having been done, all we can now is to vote for smart leadership that will use information well and will thoughtfully review our options to guide our nation toward a calmer, more prosperous place.

I suggest you be wary of candidates, and their spouses, who promote emotion over logic. Key phrases that should raise a red flag include "I am outraged," "I am insulted," "supports terrorists," "hates our country," "my gut tells me," "the most liberal voting record," "has no experience," and "does not love our country."

Any child can dish out labels and pronounce blame. It takes a mature, clear minded, thoughtful person to lead our nation beyond following one man's instincts towards a wise and mature administration that not only takes the smart road, but can show us the data as to why the path is the best path. I especially ask that you verify if any personal slurs are true before believing what you are told.

Statistics tell us that the longer a gambler plays, the more he loses. We don't need another gambler at the table for the next four years.

Jonathan Kraut is a Santa Clarita resident and is President of the Democratic Club of the Santa Clarita Valley. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal.


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