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Posted on Mon, Oct 1, 2012 : 11:29 a.m.

Election 2012: Are you a 'for' or 'against' voter?

By Wayne Baker

1001 ov anti campaign buttons.jpg
Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values. This week Dr. Baker is discussing the upcoming election.

Fewer than 1,000 hours remain until the general election on Nov. 6. Who will get your vote? Have you decided?

I’ve decided who I am going to vote for in the presidential election, barring some remotely possible cataclysmic event that might make me change my mind. In reaching my decision, I reflected on how I’ve voted in past presidential elections. Sometimes I voted “for” a candidate. Other times I’ve voted “against” one.

When I voted “for” a candidate, I really considered the person to be the right one for the job. When I voted “against” a candidate, I didn’t like either one. I voted “against” the candidate who I thought was the worse of two poor choices.

So far, I’ve voted in 10 presidential elections. Here’s my tally of votes for and against:

In two elections, I voted “for” a candidate.

In five elections, I voted “against” a candidate.

In three, I did both—voting “for” one candidate and “against” the other.

Think this is a recent trend? To find the first major “against” campaign in presidential politics, we have to reach all the way back to the late 1700s when Jefferson and Adams got very nasty in their claims about each other. (Years later, in retirement, they became friends again.) The “against” political buttons, at right, reach back to FDR’s era.

But the first “against” poster in American museums is called “The Coffin Handbill.” John Qunicy Adams’ 1828 campaign against Andrew Jackson went after General Jackson as a ruthless killer. The Coffin Handbill showed a line of six black coffin silhouettes, each one representing a man Jackson reportedly had identified as a deserter under his military command and had executed. Above the coffins the handbill read: “Some Account of Some of the Bloody Deeds of Gen. Jackson.”

When you go into your polling place on election day, your vote only officially registers “for” a candidate. But, today, you can cast a vote for, against, or both.

Who will you vote "for"?

Who will you vote "against"?

As you vote, will you be voting "for" some and "against" others?

Wayne Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at or on Facebook.



Wed, Oct 3, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

? (The following quote was translated into English from an article appearing in the Czech Republic as published in the Prager Zeitung of 28 April 2011). "The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting an inexperienced man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama Presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their President. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails America. Blaming the Prince of the Fools should not blind anyone to the vast Confederacy of Fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Barack Obama. It is less likely to survive the multitude of idiots such as those who made him their President."