There are No Undecided Voters

Madeline Polkinghorn

The notion of the undecided voter has served as a defining archetype in the greater milieu of American electoral politics – and for good reason. The idea that citizens can be compelled to shift support from one candidate or party to another is what incentivizes politicians to listen to their electorate in the first place. That is, the reason politicians even attempt to appeal to us is because they are constantly encumbered by the truth that human ideology is not immutable: voters can choose, at any time for any reason, to shift their support away from or toward a particular candidate. 

But what, in 2020, does it mean to be undecided? In this election, we have constructed a sort of fable: that there exist millions of Americans who truly lack any partiality to either nominee and straddle a mythical intermediate space of political allegiance amidst a wider context of unprecedented partisanship. 

But the concept of true political impartiality in 2020 is a fiction we have invented – a farce that fashions a veil of innocence over a horror we would rather not accept. After four years, we have been provided with an irreducibly plain docket of evidence of who Donald Trump is. The separation of migrant children from their families, brazen and violent white supremacy, countless allegations of sexual misconduct, and the flagitious bungling of a plague – amongst countless other barbarities – simply cannot lead to the conclusion of indecision. 

To be “undecided” is to make an indisputable decision that situates one squarely on the boundary of moral apathy. To be unswayed by evil is not a passive deed; rather, it is an active and conscious decision to be presented with an answer and contort it into the shape of a question.  

Every American voter has the inalienable right to support Donald Trump and his doings if they so choose. But let us stop accommodating the pernicious lie that one can, in this moment, claim neutrality or ambivalence. To be “undecided” in 2020 is to decide that the status quo is either acceptable, or not unacceptable enough to be definitively opposed. An anti-decision is a decision to see the world as it is, and still believe one can earnestly vacillate between whether or not it is decent. 

I write this not to contend that one must fervently adore Joe Biden to critique our national surroundings. Rather, I implore us all to be honest with ourselves: at this political juncture, every “non-decision” or illusion of neutrality we have fabricated is merely a poorly fashioned disguise for a refusal to reject what we already know.