It’s only a few weeks until election day and both presidential candidates are focusing on that small percentage of people who — for whatever reason — have not yet made up their minds.

obama, romney
Romney photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore;
Obama photo per

The upcoming election will be close so both Romney and Obama are reaching out to those who are undecided, trying to win them over.

In the meantime, political consultants are working frantically on both sides to persuade that small, but still-significant number of people who have not yet committed themselves to one of the candidates.

Ironically though, all the lavish attention given to the undecided can actually operate to foster the very indecision such attention is designed to end. The dysfunctional dynamic is clear — people can claim indecision and be the center of attention or they can make up their minds and be consigned to the media sidelines.

The choice is easy for those who enjoy the flattery of having the special character, keen insight, and high standards the present system tends to confer on the “undecided.”

In most times and most places though, indecision and lack of commitment have been viewed as bad things — as a lack of character and as a lack of insight.

It’s easy to blame politicians for the decline in civility and substance as the election draws near, but that critique also needs to consider the kind of people politicians have to attract — i.e., the “uncommitted.”

Interestingly, a similar thing is often true in religion. The spirit of democracy that exalts the indifferent, the undecided, and the uncommitted in politics can foster a similar pandering to unseemly interests in unseemly ways within religion as well.

But there is a conviction within the Christian tradition that “the Word is more important than those who hear it.”

This is not to say that people aren’t important.

Rather, it simply recognizes that when the church — or politicians — prefer numbers over the maintenance of core principles and beliefs, the fate of the whole enterprise can devolve to those who seem to be unashamedly “undecided.”


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Revised and re-posted from 15 Oct 2008

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