Friday, July 25, 2008

A Herd of Cattle

I must admit to spending more of my attention on art of late than politics. But I have been following Obama's international tour. I bet McCain wished he had never suggested his opponent actually go visit Iraq. Obama has been looking very presidential. Definitely more presidential than GW ever looked. He has not leaned on a podium once.

Meanwhile McCain has been back stateside trying to make bitter little snips at the Democratic candidate. So imagine my surprise today when I caught a CNN video with the latest poll of polls. Seems that McCain is gaining on Obama and that currently they are separated by only three points. Course the margin of error on most polls is plus or minus three points, but I had figured that McCain would be lagging further and further behind. Not gaining.

I worked at one time in Washington, DC for Senator Charles Goodall who had been appointed to take the seat vacated by the murdered Robert Kennedy. Since he was one of the authors of the amendment to end the war in Vietnam President Nixon pulled out the big guns to defeat him when he ran for the Senate seat. We did a poll on polls. And it seems there is a polling factor. Or factors actually.

First any population that is studied has this tendency to start behaving strangely because of the attention given it. i.e. it is not odd to find people who have been called more than once to start giving strange answers to just see what the result might be.

Second people start following the leader. I could as an example get published a poll which said that the majority of the United States Citizens would prefer a dictatorship with Vice President Cheney as the leader. And people would start heading that direction in their opinions.
It would appear that we are after all just a herd of cattle and will follow any leader whether they are heading for the slaughter house or not.

And we do not deviate from habitual behavior easily. We hate change. Rather like this herd of cattle pictured above. They had recently been in a small field where they were dropped bales of hay and grain. Load them in a truck and transport them to green grass heaven and what do they do? Head to the random two legged stranger that pulled up to take their picture. They assume I am going to give them hay; fodder for their opinions as it were.

In short we prefer the monster we know over the unknown behind the closet door. McCain we know. He is just like George Bush. Everything he says, even the bitter snipes, sound like GW. Obama on the other had is promising us change; a whole field of new spring grass to munch. But we could get lost. Better to stay by the fence and wait for the pickup with hay.

All this herd got from me is their picture taken, and isn't that what a poll is? A snap shot of the herd's behavior at this point in time. Is it valid? For the moment it is taken. It is out of date by the time it is published even in this fast track digital world. Give these four footed beasts in the picture above another week and they will totally ignore the opportunity for a free meal from a truck. Well, until the nights get cold and the grass starts to die. About the end of October here in the high country. This group will be walking into a cattle truck for a trip to the slaughter house. A couple weeks later voters in this country will be walking into polling booths. Are we going for the slaughter we know or an opportunity to change things?