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To those of you who advocate not voting or don't care. To those who state their vote does not matter.

The thing is the model you have described is based on the notion that the will of the individual is irrelevant to group decisions. When the civil rights movement happened was it the act of a group which changed the political scene or the collection of individuals making a choice? The will of groups cannot work with out the individual minds making choices. Would it be better if more people paid attention to how they make their choices? Hells yeah. We can't guarantee people on mass will. All we can be responsible for is our own act of will.

One way which we can encourage people think more about their vote is to convince they have to vote. Not all of them will think about it but maybe some more will. It is moot. The important part is people take responsibility for their collective will. If everyone in the country decided Kenneth Hite should be president then he would. It is all a matter of individual will translating to group action.

Now that said, should someone divorce themselves from the exercise of their individual will in collective decisions of the people, then they believe they have divorced themselves of the weight of those decisions reached. This is a false notion. By not participating in the collective decisions then they are as responsible for the decision reached as the people who supported it. You have in fact by default agreed to those decisions whatever they may be.

Translation. If you don't vote, then you deserve what you receive and make yourself irrelevant. I am not irrelevant. I choose to vote and to exercise my will. If the rest of America votes another way then well that sucks but at least I can say I did my part. If I did not vote then my bitching about the status of things is really pointless. I got what I chose by not voting.

my .02

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
hoshiadam
Oct. 13th, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
The electoral college is such that if you vote for your candidate, and your candidate does not win your state, your vote doesn't count. Its a very 'us vs. them' mentality. Maybe that is the wrong term. The majority makes the decision for everyone that state represents.

Now, if your state is close, you run a higher chance of your vote actually counting. But if your state is like 70/20/(10 other), a vote for the unpopular candidate doesn't really count - it produces a minimal effect on their chance of winning (and that effect is dependent on lots of other events shifting in a way with low probability).

Essentially, when you go vote for the unpopular candidate in your state, you are saying 'I hope that enough other people in my state have the same mind as me, and together our votes will count for something.' Now, for third party candidates, enough votes does mean something - good press for next time around, hopefully some momentum to get away from this crappy two-party lock.

I really want a district-wise electoral college, with the state popular vote winners getting the two senate-seat electoral votes. I feel it is much more representative of the general population.

Pardon the rant. I dislike the electoral college in its current incarnation. I have yet to hear an argument why a district-wise system would be worse than the current version.
technoir
Oct. 13th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
I agree the system is flawed. This does not preclude us from being able to effect change if we collectively want it enough. If the electoral college is bothersome, find someone who agrees it should be changed and vote for them and get all your friends and family to vote for them. If enough people do then maybe we can get it changed. The constitution can be amended after all and has been in the past. Collective will does work in this country if there is enough of it.
hapersmion
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:02 am (UTC)
Yep, electoral college is dumb. I say down with it.

BTW, they were saying on the radio the other day that, although TN has been a republican state lately, there are a lot of independents here, and according to recent polling there's a chance we might swing the other way. So we might end up being one of the close states.
justinjacobson
Oct. 13th, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
A subject near and dear to my heart. I've often decided not to vote because, as a statistical matter, no single person's vote has ever mattered. (I'm speaking of people similarly situated to myself, e.g., a Florida voter in a major election.)

Even this year, I've been very energized about the election. I've blogged about it a lot. I've done some fundraising. I've even knocked on doors. Anyone who knows me knows that's saying something. But, I'm still having a hard time justifying actually voting. I've recently come to the decision that I would vote, doing so as a personal symbolic act, such as giving yourself a pep talk before a big event.

That being said, I can't disagree more strongly with the various false conclusions people throw out there for deciding not to vote. "If you don't vote, then you deserve what you receive and make yourself irrelevant." Uhm, no. More hypothetical than the old saw, "If you don't vote, then you can't complaint", but equally false. Deciding not to vote--a patently futile act--does not render complaint pointless any more than complaining about the person you voted for. There's no correlation.
technoir
Oct. 13th, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)
If you participate in the process and do not get a desired result you can say you have at least taken some action. People who do not vote are choosing to take no action.
They are choosing to make sure at least their voice is not heard in the process.

Is the process perfect? No, of course not. But by not participating You are in fact saying your okay with whatever happens. Silence implies consent.

Do you have the right to bitch? Technically you do. Free Speech and all that. Am I, someone who is doing what little I can, going to listen to the complaints of someone who can't be bothered to vote? No.

If they don't care enough to do something as simple as vote why would I value their opinion on politics?

The argument that someones vote does not matter is a convenient fiction we give ourselves to make ourselves feel better about our apathy. Even as flawed as the system is we can by collective action change it. People forget this at their peril.
hoshiadam
Oct. 13th, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
If you don't care who wins, why vote?
technoir
Oct. 13th, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
If you don't care who wins in a presidential election, then why should anyone care what your views on politics are? My point is if you don't vote you are saying you are okay with anyone who wins. Your silence is consent. If however you have someone better in mind then why not vote for them? Even if they loose what has it cost you? A half day out of the office if that much? Most people would enjoy that.

When it takes so little effort to vote and it does in fact have an effect when done by a large number of people, why would you not vote?
hoshiadam
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:15 pm (UTC)
Nobody should care what anyone else's views on politics are. They should question the reasons and facts they base their views on, and make their own decision.

My decision in this election is that either of the two major party candidates won't be bad. So what does that mean? I'm okay with anyone who wins.

So, I'm reduced to three options:
1. Voting for the candidate that will win my state
2. Voting for the candidate that will come in second in my state
3. Voting for a third party candidate that I don't like.
4. Not voting. Which has the same effect on my views as option 1 and 2.

Right now, I am leaning toward 3, but I have to get past the idea of voting for a candidate I don't like. Option 3 is voting to hopefully make a crack in the two party system - but that isn't what the election is about, so I'm having a hard time justifying it.
technoir
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:25 pm (UTC)
I am not going to argue who you should vote for but I suspect you know where mine will go. I will say that the presidential election is not the only one. By choosing to not vote your okaying ALL of the elections you are declining to vote in. Not just the president. You can help determine who wins the state on the presidential election though.
hapersmion
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:03 am (UTC)
I think the point is that you should care. :)
hoshiadam
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:07 pm (UTC)
And if I'm equally happy with the two likely winners? Really, I don't care which one wins. But that's a positive - I can see the good in both of them and choose to believe that neither is really a bad choice for president.

justinjacobson
Oct. 14th, 2008 10:57 am (UTC)
If you participate in the process and do not get a desired result you can say you have at least taken some action. People who do not vote are choosing to take no action.
They are choosing to make sure at least their voice is not heard in the process.

No one's "voice is heard in the process". As a point of fact, no vote you or I have ever made in our life has ever "been heard".
Is the process perfect? No, of course not. But by not participating You are in fact saying your okay with whatever happens. Silence implies consent.

No. By not voting, I would be saying (again, I've decided to vote this time around), I see no point in taking a futile act. Silence does not necessarily imply consent. You are inferring consent--incorrectly so.
Do you have the right to bitch? Technically you do. Free Speech and all that. Am I, someone who is doing what little I can, going to listen to the complaints of someone who can't be bothered to vote? No.

If by "technically" you mean just as much right as anyone else, then you would be correct. And the last bit is not just silly, but it's facially incorrect. Someone expresses an insightful complaint, one that might even bring needed change, and you say: "Sorry, can't listen to it; you didn't vote." Of course not. In fact, publicly expressing criticism is more valuable than voting itself.
The argument that someones vote does not matter is a convenient fiction we give ourselves to make ourselves feel better about our apathy. Even as flawed as the system is we can by collective action change it. People forget this at their peril.

In what way is it a fiction? The one thing you haven't made an argument for is how a single person's vote actually makes any difference. On the contrary, I'd posit that the concept of a person's vote making a difference is the convenience fiction, one we give ourselves to justify the effort in taking a futile act.
technoir
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:12 pm (UTC)
48 states in this country throw all of their electoral college votes behind the person who wins the popular election in their state. This is done by state law. The electors in the college pledge to vote as the state goes. So the popular vote does have an effect on the election but only on a state level. Is this the best system? No. I would like to see it changed but there you go.

But saying that does mean that yes your vote meant something. If nothing else it means how your state is going to go. This notion that statistically a single vote is meaningless is at best misleading.

A single vote compared against the 30 to 50 million who vote seems like a drop in the bucket. The problem with that is those vast number of votes still fall to the individual votes. It is the individual choices of each voter that adds to a collective number which is used to determine how a state will go. Sometimes those elections will be influenced by the sudden influx of voters normally not given to voting. In my lifetime Bill Clinton won his first election and a number of analysts at the time had argued this was due to a really high number of young voters voting for him. A group who was normally apathetic chose to make a difference and in fact did. By choosing to participate they helped guide the outcome.

Beyond that there is of course the state, federal and local elections which there is no influence of the electoral college in. These are every bit as important as who will be president. These elections also happen around the same time for the most part. If your going to vote for these people who even more directly influence your governance, then why would anyone ignore the presidential election at the same time?

My question is how can you argue that no vote I have ever taken been heard? Are you being literal? I mean they don't make noise generally, this is true. But surely you can't suggest that my vote as part of millions of others did not lead to an outcome? Are actually saying that the only decisions that matter are the ones involving what groceries to buy? Collective decisions can not be reached without individuals making choices.


As to the voice of complaint having merit, I don't agree. He has no power with out action. Say I know a guy who has insightful notions of how to make a million bucks. He of course lives in his mothers basement and has no where near a million. Why should I listen to his opinion? If someone tells you that it hurts when they lean against a stump but don't stop leaning against the stump then why should I care if it hurts them? Words are nice but ultimately if they are not coupled with some form of action they are idle intellectual masturbation. If the civil rights movement had just stayed people talking in a church somewhere, then nothing would have come from it. People have to couple ideas with actions. Otherwise you are at best spectators and at worse, sheep.

justinjacobson
Oct. 14th, 2008 02:05 pm (UTC)
Has any election you have ever voted ever been decided by one vote? (Again, I am talking about major elections--not who should be captain of the chess team or something minor like that.) I'll wager my life's earnings the answer is no. Thus, your vote was irrelevant in each of those instances. You changed nothing by undertaking the act of voting.

As for the rest of your point, it makes an equal case for lying about voting as for actually voting. That is, I should simply say I voted whether I did or not because, per your argument, I earn the right to express my opinion by saying so.

You ignored my argument about people voting for the "wrong" side not having the right to complain. If someone tells you that it hurts when they lean against a stump and take the affirmative action to lean harder, do you care if it hurts them?

Your analogy to the civil rights movement is a fallacious reductio. Of course there are important pieces of legislation and preferable candidates. Interestingly, the chief proponent of the civil rights movement, JFK, beat Nixon in the closest popular vote of all time ... and won by 113,000 votes. Think about that number in the context of your single vote. Even in the context of that election, no single person's vote even came close to making the difference.

Of course, electorally speaking, 2000 springs to mind. Florida, which determined the result of the election, was facially decided by 500 votes--not even close to a single vote making a difference.

Voting is idle physical masturbation (though admittedly of a different character than the typical form).

And I've left the big argument out altogether: Are you saying that people who don't like either major candidate are obliged to vote? Please answer that question for me. And if, as I assume, the answer is no, why is it acceptable to decline to vote on grounds of judgment in one instance but not another?
technoir
Oct. 14th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC)
Your basic assumption is false. You believe because the numbers are large that the individual choices which lead lead to those large numbers are irrelevant. This is incorrect. You cannot have those large numbers without the choices of the individuals involved. Those 500 votes in florida are individual votes. Each of those 500 people made a choice.

The thing with collective decision is they are made by individuals. The statistical models and large numbers fool us into believing that the individuals are not important but they are. Those large number collections don't happen unless the individuals make choices and vote. The individual vote has power because it is added to the whole.

You should turn over your earnings. Most votes are won by one vote. that one vote each individual in the millions make. The only time a single vote does not matter is when the system is defrauded in some manner.

Now if you want to talk about election fraud then you are standing on firmer ground. That is abhorrent to me. In those cases they are circumventing choice and that makes me angry.


As to your question, "Are you saying that people who don't like either major candidate are obliged to vote?"

My answer is still yes. In every state in the union you can write in a vote for whoever you want. There are several third party candidates. There is no excuse to not vote there. You can think of someone who you believe could be a good president. You are not restricted in anyway from voting for who your conscience says to vote for. The standard remark is "well third party votes are wasted". This is also false. They may not win as long as people believe the lie that says we only have two choices, BUT if we can convince more and more people to vote for other parties then they become more and more relevant.
hoshiadam
Oct. 13th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)
Opportunity cost? I get no benefit out of going to the polls and voting, if I don't care who wins.
technoir
Oct. 14th, 2008 01:20 pm (UTC)
Then I will say you get what deserve. If the government has ever pissed you off or made you wish they had seen sense, then why do not care? I mean if your good with what happens no matter what and don't ever care what the government does then don't vote. Don't vote for congress, state representative, governor, judges, district attorneys, senate or president. If you are okay with what ever those people do then you should abdicate your choice. I mean governments make nothing but great decisions right? Your okay with every thing a government might possibly ever do right?

If not then take the little time it might take to express yourself in these matters. It's a single day every few years. You mean to say that is to much trouble?
justinjacobson
Oct. 14th, 2008 02:09 pm (UTC)
Jeremiah, you're overreaching here. A person can still not like what happens, still have opinions about political matters, still care, and still have an objective understanding that a single vote doesn't make a difference.

It's not that it's too much trouble, it's that the act itself is lacking any utility.

The sentiment is great. That's why I volunteered to work on Obama's campaign. Meaningful action can make a difference. If everyone took your same attitude and applied it to actual feet-on-the-ground campaigning, that would make a vast difference.
technoir
Oct. 14th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC)
Attitude is important. If everyone in in america took responsibility for their power and voted the way they believe then maybe we might get change. The belief that our individual votes don't have power has prevented a lot of change. People saying it doesn't matter is what makes the statement true. We have a two party country because people believe the lie that those are the only choices. Attitude changing is important.
justinjacobson
Oct. 14th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
I'll admit, I'm flagging. Argument via LJ is just tedious. But I appreciate you engaging, Jeremiah. I always enjoy a good philosophical debate.
technoir
Oct. 14th, 2008 03:54 pm (UTC)
Me too! I have been accused of being willing to argue with a chair. It is nice to get a chance to talk out philosophy. I usually come away from such discussions with a new way of looking at them.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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