The SAT Factor

A Fool In NH Column Heading

Now that the primaries are over and I know who my Republican and Democrat opponents for governor of New Hampshire are it is time to get down to business.
In case you haven’t been paying attention and constantly looking down at your smartphone, I am running for governor once again under the Flatlander Ticket.
I won’t be on the ballot, so if you want to vote for me you will have to write my name in.
It certainly isn’t easy to mount a write-in campaign. Write-in candidates hardly ever stand a chance of winning since most voters have been pre-conditioned by the “SAT Factor.”
I have written about this in the past and I thought it important to bring it up again since it is very important and I really have no other ideas for a column this week.
Most of you have taken SATs when you were in school. It was a test to see how smart you were and how expensive your college education would be. The smarter you are, the better the college, the more it would cost.
In the SATs you get a bunch of questions and then, nine times out of ten, you take a wild guess and fill in the corresponding box next to the answer you hope and pray is correct. Those who guess the most correct answers win the privilege of spending the most for college.
We were prepared for the SATs by taking similar guessing tests throughout our school years and by the time you are an adult, it is a preconditioned human trait.
Most polling places still work with the SAT model. Voters will be handed a large sheet of thick stock paper with a bunch of names on it. Next to the names will be those little boxes that you have been familiar with since middle school.
Often there will be another piece of paper with this one. It will usually be a surprise to the voter since they weren’t expecting this. It will have a lot of words on it that make no sense that will try as ambiguously as possible to explain something or other the town or city or state needs to do or not to do.
You will never make heads or tail of it no matter how hard you try and so, on the bottom of the page will be a “Yes” or a “No” and next to them those familiar and comforting boxes to fill in.
You could leave them blank, but your SAT conditioning won’t let you, so you choose one and fill it in hoping you made the correct choice.
About six months later you will find out what exactly it was you voted for when you get your new tax bill or a road is suddenly being built through your living room.
Anyway, back to the ballot with all the names on it..
Usually you will know two names in advance, the Republican or Democrat, and you’ll fill in one of the boxes (something else we have been preconditioned to do). You will vote for familiar things like president and senator and even unfamiliar and vague positions like Registrar of Deeds that you know nothing about. Still, you fill in one of the boxes anyway and hope your deeds remain safe.
After the list of names for each position there will be a box that has no name next to it. This is where you would write in someone’s name. In the case of governor, that would hopefully be me.
This is new and unfamiliar territory. When you took those SATs there were no such options. There was always an answer to choose from and you never had to actually know the correct answer and write it in, that wouldn’t have been fair.
So, why in the world would anyone ever take the time to fill in that box and write-in a name? It simply isn’t programmed into our DNA.
That is why my campaign is a difficult one. I have to convince people to go beyond years of conditioning in filling in that box and voting for either the Republican or Democrat and take a step they are not comfortable with.
At this point I’m still not sure how to do that except to simply ask them to do it.
Still, if I can figure out a way to have people overcome this preconditioning and actually fill in the box and write-in my name, it might all be for naught anyway.
You see, where I live, after you filled out those thick stocked pieces of paper you have to bring them over and gently place them in a machine that looks suspiciously like a shredder.
Maybe they’ve already decided who won.

Visit Brendan’s website at www.BrendanTSmith.com