One sure sign someone has remained on stage too long is when they begins to embarrass themselves. Exhibit One this week is Jeff Greenfield, long-time political pundit who has worked for both ABC and CNN news and for the New York Times, Time and Slate.com. In a cranky article titled “Why I never voted for Barack Obama,” Greenfield admits that he has not voted in any election since 1996. His excuse: it enables him to distance himself from the candidates because he isn’t going to vote for either one.
It’s not the first time Greenfield has admitted he never votes. He did so in an article in late October 2012 in which he asked the undecideds to stay home.
What is more embarrassing? That Greenfield admits to not voting? That he thinks he has a great excuse? The smugness with which he declares his objectivity and implies his superiority? Or the very fact that he doesn’t get it.
He doesn’t get that a big part of the code ethics of any professional—journalist, attorney, accountant, physician, architect, advertising guy—is to set aside beliefs when practicing the profession. Moreover, in Greenfield’s case, having an opinion and expressing it is part of the job title. We know Greenfield isn’t objective and, since he’s a pundit, we wouldn’t expect or want him to be. We know his work bubbles with opinions and assumptions, and like virtually all mainstream pundits, the opinions express a narrow right-centrist view.
Greenfield must hold himself in pretty low self esteem: he’s afraid that voting for a candidate is temptation enough for him to lie, to build an argument which he doesn’t really believe or to withhold material evidence. Only in the severe purity of non-voting will Greenfield not succumb to the temptation of unethical reporting.
Greenfield wants us to admire the sheer Zen objectivity he achieves through the consecrated act of not voting. Instead, all we see is a cranky guy abdicating his freedom and his responsibility as an American citizen. And bragging about it.