Shortly before the Revolutionary War, one-third of the colonists were for independence, one-third were content with the British tax system and left-side-of-the-road travel, and one-third were neutral or completely unaware of what was going on. Naturally, for a nation seeking direction, the wise thing to do would be to base their course of action on the last second thoughts or whims of that latter third, right?

That’s how we seem to handle it these days. If you don’t have an opinion, we’ll make you have one, and sometimes even drive you to the polls! What a bad way to run an election.

In the instance of the Revolutionary War, the “undecided” were viewed as exactly that, and thanks to those seeking independence (along with British insistence on wearing bright red into battle … thanks, lads) we’re a free nation. If George Washington and King George held townhall meetings to convince the undecided to vote one way or the other, we could still be clad in powdered wigs and have a monarch-mandated tea time, having never defiantly removed the “u” from “colour.” Things have changed now, and persuasion of the coveted “undecided” voter has become a politicians greatest pastime, often at the expense of checkmating those who were silly enough to pay attention in the first place.

Fortunately, in the mid to late 1700s, the neutral, ignorant or undecided were left alone to ride along on whatever path was chosen for them, as they deserved. Now, undecideds are rounded up and put in a room to question presidential candidates, where they play a pivotal role each election year. When we’re trying to figure out which way to go, for some reason, more and more often, we’re seeing our direction chosen by the mapless. In addition, this confused bloc of potential voters has, for some reason, had a label of nobility attached to it by the media. This just can’t go well.

The Kerry-Bush debate in St. Louis was a good example. For this debate, the room was supposedly filled with 140 “undecided voters” asking the candidates questions on the issues. Debates featuring “undecideds” always end up more resembling a taping of “Let’s Make a Deal” than a serious political discussion, and should have been culminated by Charlie Gibson offering $100 to anyone who could draw a conclusion.

It’s too bad the doors to the auditorium couldn’t have been locked from the outside until Wednesday, Nov. 3. This would have gotten many Missouri undecideds off the street … all but those who showed up too late because they were ambivalent about their choice of wardrobe.

It’s really amazing. In order to be “undecided” in this election, you need to have been exposed to at least several months of campaigning and discussion of heated topics, yet remain “up in the air.” To still be “undecided” you have to have …

  • … faced fierce internal debate over whether taxes should be cut, or a fiscal course should be set by a person who makes Ted Kennedy look like a Supply-Sider.

  • … witnessed the horrors of 9-11, and still aren’t quite sure if it’s appropriate to first have a “global test” administered to the worldwide community before the United States can take action, or not. Should results of a “pop quiz” taken by not only allies of the United States, but socialist creampuffs, bureaucratic U.N. red-tapers, tinpot oppressors and one malaise-addled failure of a late-’70s president who needs an oyster shucker to remove his nose from Castro’s rump, be the sole deciders of what action the United States takes to defend itself? You’re just not sure.

  • … thought about whether or not it’s OK to kill unborn babies. Hmmm, not sure about that one, either.

  • … been worried, and remain unsure, about how to attain affordable health care. Can a fair plan be devised in part by a VP candidate who made a fortune driving insurance costs higher than a cockroach in Willie Nelson’s laundry hamper? You’re still not positive.

The list goes on.

If somebody is truly confused, then they should stay home on Election Day. If they’re only undecided because they’re waiting to see who will pony up the most goodies, they’re not really undecided, and shouldn’t be included in debates that claim to feature such. In either case, these debates sporting “undecideds” are a media-driven joke. Unfortunately, your vote, and mine, are the punchline.

The coveted “undecided voters” – two words that should remain forever oxymoronic, but, unfortunately, they won’t.

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