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Your choices according to David Sedaris at Three Roads Blog
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Your choices according to David Sedaris

The chicken or the “platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it.”

“To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked,” says Sedaris. “I mean, really, what’s to be confused about?”

Ok, I know there are sane, smart and thoughtful undecided voters out there who still need more information (despite the 24-7 print/web/television coverage of a 20-month primary season) before heading into the voting booth. And I realize that a good many of those sane, smart and thoughtful people will end up pulling the lever for John McCain. They will have their reasons, and absent among them will be an affinity for shit with bits of broken glass in it.

Sedaris’ utter confusion over how people can be undecided in this election is something many on the left are feeling right now (including yours truly).

But that confusion is typical of anyone who believes anything strongly. It’s really hard to understand where other people are coming from when they disagree (or merely hesitate to agree) with something you feel passionately about.

Reading Sedaris’ take on the election, I was reminded of an article in Harper’s by the late David Foster Wallace. The article was about the fierce and ideologically-charged English usage debates. Noting the link between politics and the English language, Wallace offered this incredibly cogent description of what he calls the “Democratic Spirit,” a strength of mind that is required for civilized debate on vexing issues:

A Democratic Spirit is one that combines rigor and humility, i.e., passionate conviction plus sedulous respect for the convictions of others. As any American knows, this is a very difficult spirit to cultivate and maintain, particularly when it comes to issues you feel strongly about. Equally tough is a D.S.’s criterion of 100 percent intellectual integrity — you have to be willing to look honestly at yourself and your motives for believing what you believe, and to do it more or less continually.
This kind of stuff is advanced U.S. citizenship. A true Democratic Spirit is up there with religious faith and emotional maturity and all those other top-of-the-Maslow-Pyramid-type qualities people spend their whole lives working on. A Democratic Spirit’s constituent rigor and humility and honesty are in fact so hard to maintain on certain issues that it’s almost irresistibly tempting to fall in with some established dogmatic camp and to follow that camp’s line on the issue and to let your position harden within the camp and become inflexible and to believe that any other camp is either evil or insane and to spend all your time and energy trying to shout over them.

At this point in the presidential campaign, the Democratic Spirit is much harder to find, and I have to keep reminding myself to strive for it.

But damn, that David Sedaris is funny.

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