Opinion: Generally true
With the recent if-not-surprising revelation that perennial candidate Joe Hogsett has set out to pursue his desire to become the chief executive officer of the City of Indianapolis, political pundits and media outlets (hungry for the competition and likely, for the millions of dollars that will be spent on campaign ads) are ecstatic. And for many average citizens, Hogsett may bring a greater competition to the field and therefore accomplish a better outcome – whoever may prove victorious.
With the onslaught of parlor talk about this candidate or that comes a wave of tiresome speculation about the political demographic of a community. Indianapolis is a Democrat town. What does this mean? Indiana is a Republican state. The identical interrogatory is presented. Can a geographic area be a member of a political party?
Certainly, this highly literal interpretation is a little silly. The wags no doubt are referring to the historical proclivity of a group to vote a certain way. They assess the race, education level and other factors to “determine” a likely vote and ascribe the outcome of elections based upon the data.
But in determining that one group or another is not capable of voting outside of a stereotype is a disappointing dismissal of free will. Powerful and entrenched leaders often stray from the electorate and pay the ultimate political price for it. Other times, upstarts mount stunningly successful outsider efforts and thus ascend to high office. American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes is attributed as saying that “no generalization is wholly true, not even this one.”
But when generalizations are often enough true, must not we account for them in our reasoning? If it is foolhardy to dismiss the reality of a latent political bias, is it equally irresponsible to ignore the weight of a myriad of other factors?