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I'm writing in Stephen Colbert
September 30, 2008 3:41 PM   Subscribe

Bother Voting doesn't care who you are going to support this election, as long as you get out and vote. Now all you have to do is use their creative e-cards and banners to convince your friends to hit the polls.
posted by misha (87 comments total)

 
If any of my so-called friends takes it upon himself to send me this shit, I will personally kick him in the nuts.

Look, we get it, okay? You think voting is important. Now LEAVE US THE FUCK ALONE.
posted by nasreddin at 4:00 PM on September 30, 2008


Just what the country needs -- more uninformed idiots voting.
posted by proj at 4:03 PM on September 30, 2008


"I voted because spam told me to!"
posted by Sys Rq at 4:20 PM on September 30, 2008


I HATE DEMOCRACY RAAARGH
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:22 PM on September 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


proj, Voting doesn't serve the purpose you think it does. If you want ordinary citizens making informed decisions, then you need deliberative democracy, i.e. all laws must pass a 100+ juror trial before taking effect.

Individual states play obnoxious games that prevent various groups from registering and/or voting. So you need some peer pressure. Or we could follow Australia's route, but then Mickey Mouse might win. ;)
posted by jeffburdges at 4:26 PM on September 30, 2008


I care who you vote for.
posted by swift at 4:28 PM on September 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Look, we get it, okay? You think voting is important. Now LEAVE US THE FUCK ALONE.

This would be the epitaph on your gravestone, if they put gravestones on the dumping grounds they throw gassed concentration camp victims into.
posted by DU at 4:42 PM on September 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just what the country needs -- more uninformed idiots votingpeople getting invested in the system.

FTFY
posted by DU at 4:43 PM on September 30, 2008


Woman way more awesome than you.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:58 PM on September 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


"proj, Voting doesn't serve the purpose you think it does. If you want ordinary citizens making informed decisions, then you need deliberative democracy, i.e. all laws must pass a 100+ juror trial before taking effect."

Let me guess. Gravel supporter?
posted by NedKoppel at 5:16 PM on September 30, 2008


Voting instills people with a sense of responsibility (I hope) - and the bonus of feeling rightful indignation when you bitch about the inevitable outcomes of our representative democracy.

At least the site is pretty honest; you're gonna bother people when you send them something from someecard, but why not? Got until Monday to register, might as well make sure your pals who gripe about the war, or old man McCain, or that inexperienced Obama, or how they'd like a piece of Palin are actually registered.

Remember folks, they say the government you get is the government you deserve.... or something like that.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 5:32 PM on September 30, 2008


This reminds me of a sad thought I was just having. I'm a huge fan of Walt Kelly's Pogo, having read it in reprints as a little girl, and I was pretty much introduced to politics through his work. (And Berke Breathed's, but that's another story.) Kelly's election-year "I Go Pogo" drives were popular in the '50s and '60s, especially on college campuses, as a light nonpartisan way to get out the vote. Pogo posters said, If you can't vote My Way -- Vote Anyway! But Vote!

But Kelly was a vociferous liberal, who was frequently censored in the comics for his views (mild as they'd seem now). Today, I can't imagine a popular writer/cartoonist/entertainer who took such frequent political stands -- liberal OR conservative -- pleading with all readers to vote on general principle, just because we have the right. I could be wrong, of course. But I think in that respect, at least, the '50s really were a tenderer time. The Zeitgeist is better expressed, I think, by those awful forwards you get sometimes reminding Democrats to get out and vote on Friday, November 5. They always have a ;) attached, but lying to people about their franchise is about as funny as coathangers at a baby shower. Unless that's actually hilarious. I'm not certain.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:37 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


This would be the epitaph on your gravestone, if they put gravestones on the dumping grounds they throw gassed concentration camp victims into.

Translation: "Your comment is like genocide. Genocide against my feelings."
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 5:46 PM on September 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


Given the amount of attention this election has been getting, and how long it's dragged on for, one has to assume that anyone not voting is doing so intentionally.
Whats The Point?
posted by mannequito at 5:49 PM on September 30, 2008


This would be the epitaph on your gravestone, if they put gravestones on the dumping grounds they throw gassed concentration camp victims into.

Tell that to the civic-minded voters in the Weimar Republic.
posted by nasreddin at 5:56 PM on September 30, 2008


Don't worry, we have a secret ballot in this country. None of your cool friends need to know that you expressed a non-ironic opinion.
posted by DU at 5:56 PM on September 30, 2008


Don't worry, we have a secret ballot in this country. None of your cool friends need to know that you expressed a non-ironic opinion.

Ah, but I shall have to give account before the ever more exacting tribunal of mine own heart.
posted by nasreddin at 6:02 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


And your heart will say yes, nasreddin, you are way better for not voting than those people who voted for the lesser evil. For while they worked to minimize the damage inflicted, you did nothing, proving yourself above the system and better than them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:07 PM on September 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


And your heart will say yes, nasreddin, you are way better for not voting than those people who voted for the lesser evil. For while they worked to minimize the damage inflicted, you did nothing, proving yourself above the system and better than them.

Uh, aren't you an anarchist?

In any case, I'm not an American citizen. That's beside the point. What is not beside the point is that I, along with most of the country's population, live in a state which is guaranteed to go for one party. Any vote I would hypothetically cast would be purely symbolic. Symbolic of what? My love for and participation in American democracy? What's the point, when I believe in neither?

Go ahead and vote if it makes you feel good. I'm not "better than you" except in the sense that I believe my political opinions to be more correct. All I'm saying is that you need to leave people who don't agree with you alone, and let them live their lives without pestering them. Just like you want the Jehovah's Witnesses to leave you alone.
posted by nasreddin at 6:22 PM on September 30, 2008


Actually, the national popular vote, while having no real legal standing, does have political capital. So if you want Obama to have that little extra oomph to put through some reforms, or if you want to prevent him from having that little extra oomph for those same reforms, you should vote even in a foregone conclusion state.

And that's aside from the issue of states unexpectedly flipping. Even if the chance of payback is tiny, the cost of voting is negligible, so the expected value is still pretty high.
posted by DU at 6:35 PM on September 30, 2008


I don't find either of those arguments convincing. But my mind is not going to be changed by some asshole sending me a stupid e-card, or, for that matter, accosting me on the street. Just like I'm not going to be persuaded to believe in God by email forwards and street-corner proselytizers.
posted by nasreddin at 6:40 PM on September 30, 2008


I don't really get the connection between a fictional entity even the believers claim never to see and an open process that occurs every 4 years with widespread, undeniable repercussions, but whatever. Continue in your pessimistic, cynical little world if that's what makes you happy.
posted by DU at 6:46 PM on September 30, 2008


Uh, aren't you an anarchist?

Just because I don't support the government doesn't mean that I have to be stupid about the fact that it's in place now, and that it has a direct, everyday impact on people's lives. The revolution isn't tomorrow, and refusing to improve people's lives because the means to do so isn't ideologically "correct" is self-righteous horseshit that takes the struggle against exploitation and oppression and makes it about moral purity, one of the most ridiculous and disgusting concepts ever invented.

If voting helps to reduce the harm that the government does, then a-voting I shall go. Learn to tell symbols from reality.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:52 PM on September 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


I don't really get the connection between a fictional entity even the believers claim never to see and an open process that occurs every 4 years with widespread, undeniable repercussions, but whatever. Continue in your pessimistic, cynical little world if that's what makes you happy.

The point is not the reasonableness or unreasonableness of the ideas. I would find it just as annoying if someone preached the theory of evolution or the Pythagorean theorem to me. The point is that the way in which these exhortations to vote are delivered show a clear contempt, not only for people's desire not to be annoyed, but for their own ability to make a decision. No arguments are offered, no dialogue sought. There's just harangue. And anyone who wants to harangue me can fuck right off.

Learn to tell symbols from reality.


The same to you, doubled. The fact that you've constructed an elaborate ideological justification for your meaningless involvement in a collective ritual that enthrones and legitimizes state power in no way makes me the bad guy.
posted by nasreddin at 7:01 PM on September 30, 2008


To oversimplify a bit, there are 2 types of non-voters. There are those who are too lazy, uninterested or unmotivated to vote, and there are those who don't vote because they don't believe in the system, or the candidates. This type of reminder might work for people in the first category, who are aware of the election, but just need to be reminded register and then vote. People in the second category, however, have well thought-out reasons they don't vote. The only way to convince those people to vote is to refute their arguments against voting, which as we're seeing in this thread, is a difficult thing to do.
posted by The Eponymous Pseudonymous Rex at 7:36 PM on September 30, 2008


So, you all who don't vote don't want to vote for either of the guys running for president. Fine. Whatever.

But do you really not vote at all? You have no interest in whether your state/county/city passes a law saying that gay people can't get married? No interest in whether your local school board thinks it's a swell idea to teach creationism? Your local utility company wants to raise rates? Your city council wants to close libraries?
posted by rtha at 7:42 PM on September 30, 2008


I'm not "better than you" except in the sense that I believe my political opinions to be more correct.
I will by no means argue that you should vote, nor I do believe that voting is a moral imperative, but, in the interest of dialog, for what reason do you find your political beliefs more correct? I'm not sure if your beliefs are well-known around here, but I certainly don't know them. I'm not looking to argue your beliefs per se (though I may ask you to defend them, in the interest of dialog), but I'm curious about what your reasoning is.
posted by The Eponymous Pseudonymous Rex at 7:45 PM on September 30, 2008


I will by no means argue that you should vote, nor I do believe that voting is a moral imperative, but, in the interest of dialog, for what reason do you find your political beliefs more correct? I'm not sure if your beliefs are well-known around here, but I certainly don't know them. I'm not looking to argue your beliefs per se (though I may ask you to defend them, in the interest of dialog), but I'm curious about what your reasoning is.

I have a bad habit of starting lengthy derails about my own beliefs and convictions, which are really not very interesting, so I'd like to avoid getting into this discussion as much as possible. Suffice to say that I think voting as a method of change has a number of significant problems (I'm an anarchist and don't believe in the state at all, but I'm assuming for the sake of argument here that I do support a political party):

a) The argument that equates one's responsibility for one's own vote (a single vote, which changes nothing by itself) and everyone's responsibility for the total votes cast is wrong. In other words, even if I live in a swing state with a 400-vote majority, if the party I support loses, I'm still only responsible for my own decision to vote or not vote. An abstract 400 people abstaining are responsible for the victory of the other party, but I myself can only be held accountable for one vote (or 1/n of the blame, where n equals the number of people in the state who abstained). Which changes nothing.

b) In these close situations, the counting methods are too imprecise to be able to say that the elections went one way or the other, as we learn with any recount. Therefore my ability to affect the outcome is even smaller--the best I can do is increase or decrease the statistical plausibility of a victory by an insignificant amount. The number of other factors affecting this plausibility (and its political effect) is so enormous that anything I contribute is basically statistical noise.

c) Resources exist to engineer the outcome of close elections (Ohio, Florida). If that is the case, and I live in a close state, then I have essentially no responsibility for the final result, since the number of "votes cast" is the product of political fraud and not actual votes.

d) The outcome of the election depends on a number of extraneous factors not related to the spontaneous political self-affirmation of virtuous citizens, and the "vote" is just a reflection of the totality of these factors (media budget, control of electoral commissions, random chance, economic ups-and-downs, foreign relations crises, etc.). If that's the case, then the outcome of the elections is predecided before I have the chance to vote at all.

e) As I mentioned before, the chance of me living in a state where my individual vote is significant enough to change anything is minuscule. Floridas are very rare.
posted by nasreddin at 8:09 PM on September 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The fact that you've constructed an elaborate ideological justification

Harm reduction's a pretty simple concept, HTH.

your meaningless involvement in a collective ritual that enthrones and legitimizes state power

See, it's all symbols to you. Are you under the impression that votes aren't counted, or that all elections are rigged, or some other ridiculousness? Do I want to vote in the elections as they exist? No, I'd rather not, because I agree that the system is fucked up, corrupt, and illegitimate. Now, that said, it's the system that is currently in place. Even a cursory glance at electoral history indicates that the Republicans cause inestimably more harm than the Democrats when allowed at the levers of power, so to me it makes sense to keep voting Democratic rather than doing nothing.

I don't give half a handful of flying baby shit about "enthroning and legitimizing state power", which is that symbolic bullshit that you think is real. I care about the real world, in which real people suffer, and in which voting can reduce the amount of suffering that occurs. You're just another child who throws a tantrum because he can't get his way; never mind that you can help reduce suffering, you've got to have your bullshit moral purity. It's almost religious in character, and deserves the same execration and vilification that religion does.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:19 PM on September 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


There are loads of people who don't vote because they get too busy to register, and they forget, and then it's too late. It's not always (or even, based on my experience anyway, usually) a principled stance.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:22 PM on September 30, 2008


voting can reduce the amount of suffering that occurs

Prove it. I don't mean assert it. I mean prove it: how does a single individual going to the polls change anything? If you're going to rely on the old "what if everyone thought like you" chestnut, then you're missing my point. Other people make their political decisions for their own reasons, which may or may not be totally legitimate. I act from one principle: something I do causes concrete and positive change. Any action beyond the specific individual act of voting is symbolic bullshit which you think is real. If my individual action causes no concrete change at all, then I'm reduced to evaluating whether the symbolic change it causes is good or bad. I think it's bad, so I don't vote.
posted by nasreddin at 8:26 PM on September 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


You know, it's not at all surprising to me that we still see major parties engaged in vote suppression tactics. Regardless of how noble-minded and non-partisan these get out the vote groups are, it occurs to me that the majority of the ones that try to combat attempts at disenfranchising underrepresented minorities are, at the very least, implicitly partisan.

While I'll admit this is just supposition, I strongly suspect that the populations these campaigns target, usually women, students, and ethnic minorities, reveal implicit partisanship: they are by my reckoning Democratic-leaning groups. With this in mind, I can kind of understand how vote suppression tactics can be reconciled by individuals as not wholly anti-democratic but merely another piece of a broader political and partisan struggle like canvassing or using focus groups. At the same time, though, while I am not trying to cast aspersions on the sincerity of these groups' belief in electoral democracy, I would not doubt (and I would be very interested to see hard data on) the realities of which specific groups they really try to reach.

For example, among underrepresented minorities there are (or, at least, there very clearly were prior to the immigration debates) a large population of Republican-leaning urban and suburban Hispanics, and I think that the Republican Party put a lot of effort into courting these groups (- a cynic might posit that, say, Jeb Bush converted to Roman-Catholicism with this very intention and grander political ambitions in mind.) Do these kinds of groups really reach out to this kind of minority, those who have quite legitimately been politically disenfranchised in the past but have a high likelihood of supporting the dominant party (i.e., the Republican Party)? Or do they just target the kinds of minorities who have been politically disadvantaged and are most likely to exercise their franchise in a direction away from the establishment (i.e., toward the Democratic Party)? If the latter, is this willful action or just a coincidence of the mechanism of encouraging political engagement?

To me, these seem like MUCH more interesting questions than the very well tread topic of how much an individual vote matters.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:44 PM on September 30, 2008


Wow. You all really missed the point of this FPP.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:00 AM on October 1, 2008


Prove it. I don't mean assert it. I mean prove it: how does a single individual going to the polls change anything?

Solidarność
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:11 AM on October 1, 2008


That's some kinda anarchism you got there, Pope...
posted by bonefish at 3:32 AM on October 1, 2008


I'm not an anarchist because I believe in anarchism, I'm an anarchist because I believe it offers the best world that we can make for ourselves. If the revolution were imminent, I'd say, yeah, fuck voting. But it's not, and if we can reduce the harm that the state does to the people by voting, then by god, let's vote.

Or do you believe that someone who supports drug users getting rehab instead of jail time is a fan of drug use?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:23 AM on October 1, 2008


Solidarność

What's the connection? From what I understand, Solidarność derived its early effectiveness precisely from the fact that it was an extra-legal union organization, not a political party.

Wow. You all really missed the point of this FPP.

Which is?
posted by nasreddin at 7:30 AM on October 1, 2008


As I mentioned before, the chance of me living in a state where my individual vote is significant enough to change anything is minuscule. Floridas are very rare.

Currently, John McCain and Barack Obama are within five points of each other in fourteen states: Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Between the Bradley effect and cellphone-only households, plus unprecedented GOTV operations in this election, any of those states are potentially in play this year. That's a little over 100 million people and 178 electoral votes. In other words, the odds that you live in a state where voting actually makes a difference in the presidential election this year is roughly one in three.
posted by EarBucket at 8:01 AM on October 1, 2008


Yes but, see, unless the state he lives in is, like, decided by one vote his vote won't, like, really matter, man.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:05 AM on October 1, 2008


Yes but, see, unless the state he lives in is, like, decided by one vote his vote won't, like, really matter, man.

You come up with that proof yet?
posted by nasreddin at 8:13 AM on October 1, 2008


I can't prove that a single vote matters. I also can't prove that a single car journey matters in the context of global warming. But it doesn't mean I don't try to take the bus when I can.
posted by athenian at 8:28 AM on October 1, 2008 [5 favorites]


You come up with that proof yet?

The problem is that, since you reject the idea that you have a responsibility to vote unless your vote specifically will make the difference, there's basically nothing that's going to convince you. The only way you'll be persuaded to vote is if you can be assured that you'll get your way, and that's simply not what voting- or politics- is about. What will you do when the system is torn down and swept away? Will you insist on minority-rule systems like consensus rule, or simply withdraw in autarky to a cabin in the woods somewhere?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:29 AM on October 1, 2008


What will you do when the system is torn down and swept away?

It won't be. That's a vain fantasy. But if it is, I'll take the Unabomber's cabin over any soviet or worker council or whatever. I just want to make politics as irrelevant to my life as possible. In a certain sense, of course, it boils down to a kind of libertarian "I saved myself, fuck everyone else" philosophy (which is maybe why I have more sympathy for them than most people here)--but even if I was more willing to embrace large-scale social activism, I don't think I would be able to accomplish anything concrete. My world isn't pessimistic, cynical, or little (as was suggested earlier). I don't define my sphere of action in political terms; politics is like a hurricane or a drought, it's an evil wholly out of my control, and I don't feel any more powerless because I don't control it than I do because I don't control the wind and the rain.

For me, that's really the essence and promise of anarchism, which is why I have trouble understanding how you can justify voting.
posted by nasreddin at 8:58 AM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


So, you all who don't vote don't want to vote for either of the guys running for president.

*Ahem* Either of the candidates?
posted by Hal Mumkin at 9:21 AM on October 1, 2008


Here in Oakland, we've got this huge crime problem. There aren't enough cops, and they never show up when you need one. Most crimes go unreported. It just seems that there's no point. But there's a movement here to get people to call in their crimes, to report them, because even if it seems like nobody cares, we need every data point we can get. It's not symbolic, it's not even about changing the system. But if you can't see why it matters to make the call, there's no hope FOR you.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:21 AM on October 1, 2008


Report: 60 Million People You'd Never Talk To Voting For Other Guy
posted by Perplexity at 9:28 AM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


But if you can't see why it matters to make the call, there's no hope FOR you.

I'm not sure what this means. No hope for me to what? Be saved? Qualify as a member of the human species? Be considered a reasonable person? I guess the kind of people who wouldn't consider me a reasonable person based on my lack of faith in voting wouldn't be the kind of people I would consider reasonable myself.
posted by nasreddin at 9:28 AM on October 1, 2008


Because mine is rooted in the history of anarchism as an organized and disorganized movement- the Internationals, Buenaventura Durruti, Emma Goldman, and the others- and not in the self-obsessed wankery of Tucker, Spooner, and the rest of the individualists who'd let the rest of the world burn as long as nobody else can be the boss of them.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:54 AM on October 1, 2008


An uninformed vote does not help democracy; it just muddies the data with noise. Do you want your government chosen by a coin toss? That's what an uninformed vote is: A coin toss.

Just bothering to vote isn't nearly as important of a responsibility as knowing what the fuck you're voting for.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:59 AM on October 1, 2008


*Ahem* Either of the candidates?

Maurice Duverger says hi.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:00 AM on October 1, 2008


mine is rooted in the history of anarchism as an organized and disorganized movement- the Internationals, Buenaventura Durruti, Emma Goldman, and the others

None of these people or groups had the slightest interest in voting; indeed, they were very well aware that voting functions as an opiate for the masses. They didn't hide behind the cowardly excuse that the revolution wasn't imminent. Instead, they took direct (and often violent) action in support of their ideals. Which is diametrically opposed to the accommodationism and reformism you're promoting here. For you, anarchism is just a lifestyle, an Exploited patch on your leather jacket. It doesn't affect your real life at all--in real life, you're a regular Democrat just like everyone else here, but you separate yourself from the plebes by your purely verbal adherence to a set of ideals that is associated with a vaguely radical stance. Like a twice-a-year Catholic, a summer soldier or a sunshine patriot.
posted by nasreddin at 10:10 AM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


From what I understand, Solidarność derived its early effectiveness precisely from the fact that it was an extra-legal union organization, not a political party.

They chose their own leader and forced the government to acknowledge their right to vote. That's one bit of "proof", whether you accept it or not.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:15 AM on October 1, 2008


I emphasized "for" because I was trying to say something along the lines of "you can't receive your little piece of hope if you don't reach out your hand to grab it" instead of "good God, you're a hopeless!" It wasn't a religious, logical, or humanity stance. Just encouraging people to vote, the same way I would encourage Oaklanders to report their crimes, even if it seems pointless. Sorry if I wasn't clear.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:31 AM on October 1, 2008


nasreddin: Read some fucking Chomsky and shut the fuck up.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:53 AM on October 1, 2008


To be a little more specific, tactics have changed over the years because a) the world environment has changed and b) over time, we've learned that some tactics just don't work. The world political environment is not what it was in the 1920's and 1930's; radical leftism has faded, the trade unions have mostly become capitalist enablers, and capitalism has won the struggle almost completely. Propaganda by the deed proved to be a spectacular failure, so guess what: it's not done anymore. (Hell, Goldman herself, who was involved in one of the higher-profile examples of it, repudiated its use.) You have no idea what I believe or what I advocate.

To conflate an ideology with its tactics is inane; what counts are the goals you're working toward, and whether you're working effectively. You seem to think that the only political activity I engage in is voting; whether this is because you are honestly mistaken or because you believe that everyone who votes is a dupe is unknown to me.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:02 AM on October 1, 2008


I can't prove that a single vote matters. I also can't prove that a single car journey matters in the context of global warming. But it doesn't mean I don't try to take the bus when I can.

There are lots of analogies like this used to convince people to vote, but they are faulty.

Global warming isn't a binary state. You can make the problem a little better or a little worse by your lifestyle choices. The same is true for, say, giving a dollar to charity or picking up one of the thousands of bits of trash you see on the street. It's a small difference, but it is a difference.

An election is not like that. Obama will not be any more or less president if he wins by 43,789 votes instead of 43,788 votes. The sheriff of a small town will keep his job whether he wins 96-43 or 95-43. The odds that any election, anywhere, will turn out differently if you personally stay home or go to the polls are infinitesimal. And that's leaving aside the reality that, if an election were that close, there would likely be all sorts of recounting and legal wrangling that would actually determine the outcome.

There are good reasons for voting. For instance, the act of voting can make (like in the global warming example) a tiny difference in changing societal norms about voting. When you go to the polls, you add a little more pressure toward creating an expectation that everybody ought to vote. And that's the sort of thing that can snowball in ways that really would make a difference in the outcome of elections.

But, "Your vote might decide the outcome!" is not a very good argument, and it always comes across to me as either ignorant or dishonest.
posted by straight at 11:04 AM on October 1, 2008


Straight: I see what you're getting at, but being President isn't a binary state either - you can be a President with a huge popular mandate, or a President with a wafer thin mandate. It didn't matter to George Bush II, but even so.

In any case, politics goes wider than presidential elections, particularly in countries with parliamentary and/or proportional representation, such as my own.

You can't force people to vote or to be involved in politics (this is why I disagree with mandatory voting), but by the same token it's counterproductive to go round shouting about how voting doesn't matter and why bother. The fanatics will always vote - and if no-one else votes, they'll always win.
posted by athenian at 11:24 AM on October 1, 2008


It doesn't affect your real life at all--in real life, you're a regular Democrat just like everyone else here, but you separate yourself from the plebes by your purely verbal adherence to a set of ideals that is associated with a vaguely radical stance. Like a twice-a-year Catholic, a summer soldier or a sunshine patriot.

And how does being your no-voting Uber-self affect your real life, Nasruddin? You sound vaguely radical yourself. What the hell have you ever done in your No-Vote Anarchic Fiefdom that's ever done the country or your town or anyone else any good? I'll take a twice-a-year Catholic, a summer soldier over someone who doesn't do anything, ever. It's a start. It's someone who can be bothered to get off their ass and act..

Anyone can say No to something. Anyone can come up with multi-syllabic pronouncements about why they aren't taking part in a process. IT REQUIRES NO EFFORT. NO VISION. NO NOTHING.

You know what really makes you sound smart and affects your real life?

Getting Involved. Acceptng the system as it is and educating yourself to use it to get somewhere the benefits the entire system. The most basic unit of this if you live in a democracy is voting.

People who think like you make me so fucking angry - it's like you're asking to be driven somewhere by other people because you're too high-minded and principled to drive yourself. And then shitting on someone for doing so after you get there.

Not voting is lazy. It's letting other people do the heavy lifting because you couldn't be arsed to take the time to do the minimum.

You don't want politics to intrude upon your life? At all? Move to Antarctica.

For the rest of us "regular Democrats" or "regular Republicans" or "regular third-party Independent fringe votes" - we take this shit seriously. We're not lazy. We care.

So forgive us our enthusiasm to believe that you would want to participate also. It's our voting records and time spent analyzing the issues and candidates that make it easier for you to live in this country.

Anyone can say FUCK OFF AND LEAVE ME ALONE. And pardon us if we can't hear you from your isolated cabin of freedom somewhere where no roads exist, no medical services are available, and you have no contact with anything or anyone else.

Christ.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 2:02 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry if I make you angry, Lipstick Thespian, but that's not my problem--it's yours.

Note that you haven't made a single cogent argument. Ranty, holier-than-thou lectures may be a good substitute when you're sending people e-cards, but they're a poor way to convince anyone of anything. Unless you weren't trying to convince me and were just playing to the audience, in which case, carry on, favorites are important.
posted by nasreddin at 2:46 PM on October 1, 2008


In addition:

What the hell have you ever done in your No-Vote Anarchic Fiefdom that's ever done the country or your town or anyone else any good?


So because I don't vote, that means I've never done anyone any good? That's certainly an interesting conclusion; it suggests that maybe your views of people are a little bit reductive.

It's our voting records and time spent analyzing the issues and candidates that make it easier for you to live in this country.


Really? What exactly have you done? Elected George W. Bush and an utterly ineffectual Democratic Congress? Yeah, I'm real grateful for that.

Acceptng the system as it is and educating yourself to use it to get somewhere the benefits the entire system.


I should accept the system so I can benefit the system? You could make the same argument for Stalinism.

It's someone who can be bothered to get off their ass and act..

Do you accept the fact that there can be a good acting and a bad acting? Like, helping the homeless versus burning crosses on people's lawns? OK. I consider voting and democratic political action bad acting--not as bad as burning crosses, but a net negative. So why should I do it? Is burning crosses better than doing nothing?

And pardon us if we can't hear you from your isolated cabin of freedom somewhere where no roads exist, no medical services are available, and you have no contact with anything or anyone else.

I'd hardly say anyone. Maybe a small community of friends. Given that, I wouldn't mind the rest.
posted by nasreddin at 3:04 PM on October 1, 2008


Interesting discussion.

I would say that voting is a participative act benefiting primarily the voter. It forces you to take a stance within a political reality, having considered the relevant issues on the table and the viable options available.

It does not legitimize the system, but rather changes the relationship between you and the existing system. The non-voter is an outsider and the voter is a participant. The side effect in democracies is that the efforts of the participants at all levels, whether voters, activists, pundits or whoever is totaled in a way that actually changes the political reality.

You can make a choice to opt out and remain an outsider, but as many here have tried to argue, it's not a great choice. In a way it's similar to a victim of a crime who opts not to report the perpetrator. The "cowed victim" opts out of participating in the system because the chance of affecting a result is minuscule and because of the effort involved in giving evidence, etc. The perpetrator gets a free ride with his crime, and the system as a whole is prevented from functioning to its full potential, albeit on a minimal scale.
posted by yoz420 at 3:38 PM on October 1, 2008 [4 favorites]


I would say that voting is a participative act benefiting primarily the voter. It forces you to take a stance within a political reality, having considered the relevant issues on the table and the viable options available.

It does not legitimize the system, but rather changes the relationship between you and the existing system. The non-voter is an outsider and the voter is a participant. The side effect in democracies is that the efforts of the participants at all levels, whether voters, activists, pundits or whoever is totaled in a way that actually changes the political reality.

You can make a choice to opt out and remain an outsider, but as many here have tried to argue, it's not a great choice. In a way it's similar to a victim of a crime who opts not to report the perpetrator. The "cowed victim" opts out of participating in the system because the chance of affecting a result is minuscule and because of the effort involved in giving evidence, etc. The perpetrator gets a free ride with his crime, and the system as a whole is prevented from functioning to its full potential, albeit on a minimal scale.

Exactly. While I disagree with your normative implications, this analysis is precisely spot on. Except, where you and iamkimiam see the Oakland Police Department, I see Stalin's show trials: the outcome does not depend on me, but if I don't choose to play in their farce, at least they will have to shoot me arbitrarily rather than with my tacit consent. It's a small consolation, but it's there.
posted by nasreddin at 3:45 PM on October 1, 2008


CBS News: New Study Details Massive Voter Roll Purges Underway in At Least 19 States
posted by homunculus at 3:54 PM on October 1, 2008


CBS News: New Study Details Massive Voter Roll Purges Underway in At Least 19 States

Why would Republicans contract work to Diebold (again) to illegally steal votes from people? Votes don't count, after all.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:21 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lawyers and Other Volunteers Needed for Election
posted by homunculus at 4:28 PM on October 1, 2008


I wasn't going to come back to this, but do you vote at all nasreddin? No local elections - school board, city council, local ballot initiatives (if those exist where you live), etc.?
posted by rtha at 5:19 PM on October 1, 2008



I wasn't going to come back to this, but do you vote at all nasreddin? No local elections - school board, city council, local ballot initiatives (if those exist where you live), etc.?


Well, I'm not an American citizen, as I mentioned before, so I don't. Would I? I don't think so, although I'm not sure. I guess if I lived in an area with a tremendous amount of local authority, maybe I would, but decisions in New York City are generally made by the rich and powerful in city government, and it's not very local at all.
posted by nasreddin at 5:44 PM on October 1, 2008


I'm not "better than you" except in the sense that I believe my political opinions to be more correct. All I'm saying is that you need to leave people who don't agree with you alone, and let them live their lives without pestering them.

Sorry, that's not how it is here. No one can guarantee that you aren't going to get emails and phone calls you don't want. Not in general, and not in elections.

It's amazing how much political campaigning - canvassing, phone calling - actually does affect the vote. I can hardly believe that so many people's votes are up for grabs, but they say it in my ear several times a week, so I know that it is. That's why we do it. You may not want the emails or calls, but some do - some people enjoy waiting, their vote all a-dangle, until they receive a personal invitation to vote and a customized case for a candidate. We can't tell which are them and which are you, so a wide net is cast. Such is life.

Feel however you feel about voting - since you're not invested in the democracy, I'm personally very thankful that you don't vote - but it's naive to imagine that no one's going to talk to you about voting. I think you might just have to accept that.

Hey, I wish they'd stop calling me about What's Hot at Movie Gallery. I wish the Avon Lady across the street would stop leaving scent cards at my house. I wish self-absorbed teenagers weren't always sitting at my favorite bench by the fountain so I can never sit there. I wish my boss would stop telling me that I have to develop a new revenue-generating winter program. I wish my Christian relations would stop sending me glurge and urban myths in my email. I wish the school football team didn't stand outside the grocery store collecting for their sports program. But they're not showing contempt for me by doing that stuff. They're doing things that have a history of success for agendas they care about, and I don't control those people, so those things occasionally affect me.

Sorry you don't want the emails. If you get one, you'll have to delete it. Personally, I think it's kind of important that Roe v. Wade not be outlawed, and I'm naive enough to think that whether we have a conservative or liberal judge on the Supreme Court will make a difference in that, so I'm naive and contemptuous enough to consider it vital to my life and that of any daughters I may have to not sit passively by based on some theory of government that does not now, and will never exist, or on spurious and weak comparisons to totalitarian systems in which I'm not living. Sorry if that inconveniences you. In a few weeks it will all be over, and then, depending on the outcome, we can see whether an expanded Patriot Act allows us to round up democracy-haters like yourself and imprison them based on your radical writings. Or not.

I'm hoping not, so I guess I'll do something about it. If that annoys you, it's not my problem.
posted by Miko at 6:54 PM on October 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


Feel however you feel about voting - since you're not invested in the democracy, I'm personally very thankful that you don't vote - but it's naive to imagine that no one's going to talk to you about voting. I think you might just have to accept that.

No, I can't stop people annoying me about things, but I can sure complain about it. So when you annoy people about voting, you'll have to deal with complaints. Will they be effectual? Not necessarily. But just as you are free and justified in casting your pearls before an arbitrarily large group of swine, I'm free and justified in asking you not to. I mean, you support the Do Not Call Registry, right?
posted by nasreddin at 7:55 PM on October 1, 2008


you support the Do Not Call Registry, right?

Yeah, that's totally the same thing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:04 PM on October 1, 2008


Nasruddin - you aren't a citizen of the U.S. You can't vote anyway. Why are we bothering to talk about this?

To answer your question about what I have done:

First of all, I campaigned vigorously for John Kerry in 2004. I went door-to-door. I made hundreds of phone calls. I spent hours of time at the Democratic Party office in my city, and walked for miles talking to people about how they voted. My efforts kept Washington State from going to the Republicans, and George W. Bush.

I'm doing the same now for Obama and everyone on the New Hampshire ticket. Again - hundreds of homes visited, hundreds of calls made.

Not only that, but tonight I actually persuaded someone to vote for the Democrats - someone who was completely vague and undecided. I told them why I cared, and why it mattered to me that I was volunteering my time to talk with them.

So, yeah, I get involved. I make a difference. I make it personal.

That's why I said you accept the system as it is now, educate yourself about how it works, and then do what you can to improve it so everyone benefits. You feel like you're part of a solution, not on the outside of it.

I believe the right to vote in this country is an enormous compliment, and conveys enormous trust on the people who live here. A lot of American citizens before me have gone on hunger strikes, were lynched from trees, fought and died for the right to do what you so casually dismiss in this thread.

That's what gets me angry and why I blew up at you. I have a lot of love for this nation, and I hate what the Republicans have done to the highest ideals we share as citizens. But the only way to counteract their negativity is to act - make yourself heard.

Nothing changes unless you change. Nothing matters unless you feel like you matter. I hope you find something of value in this country to believe in also, if you choose to become a citizen here.

Peace.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 9:07 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


I appreciate that you feel strongly about this, but don't use this argument:

A lot of American citizens before me have gone on hunger strikes, were lynched from trees, fought and died for the right to do what you so casually dismiss in this thread.

It's a bad argument, and it's bad when Republicans use it. The citizens of my country fought for Stalin, fought for Lenin, fought for the Tsar. They died so that their countrymen could have the right to be herded like cattle into labor camps. I'm not saying that's the same thing as voting, but this argument could be used to justify anything.
posted by nasreddin at 9:49 PM on October 1, 2008


Though I'm not entirely with nasreddin, as I'm a regular voter and will be voting a straight Democratic ticket in this election, I think I'm actually a lot closer to his position than anyone else's here. The thing is, I do believe the American political system is fundamentally broken, and fundamentally opposed to my own values.

I don't at all agree with the Nader line that the Democrats and Republicans are exactly the same- they clearly aren't, and the Democrats are unquestionably better across the board than the Republicans. At the same time, there's a grain of truth there- I think the difference between them is, in the end, a matter of degree, not of kind. The Communist Parties of the Soviet bloc had both moderates and hardliners within them, and control by the more moderate factions was far better for their citizenry than control by the hardliners, but the moderates were of course still Communists in the end, and still ultimately dedicated to upholding the brutal, authoritarian system they presided over. We may not be the Soviet Union (yet), but in a similar fashion I believe the Democratic Party leadership represents the more moderate faction of the American ruling class, and shares the general beliefs of that ruling class, which involve imperialism, authoritarianism, American exceptionalism, and crony capitalism as unquestioned fundamentals. The Democrats, akin to the moderate Communists, simply favor a more benign form of these things than the Republicans, but are not ultimately opposed to them, and I do not believe they will seriously try to reverse them, or that they have any virtues other than not being as aggressively atrocious as the Republicans. (I do not believe that their repeated capitulations to the Bush administration can be explained by simple cowardice- they've happened way too many times for that, and continue even when they are in a position of greater power.) Unlike the Soviets, we are able to make a (severely curtailed) choice between our own moderates and hardliners, and though IMO it is indeed worth exercising that choice as a palliative measure, and I do so, (as I agree with Chomsky's view about even minor differences between the parties ultimately meaning major differences in people's lives), to view it as something more than that is, in my opinion, mistaken, and often mistaken in a way that is in fact actively harmful.

To explain that more- I don't think the choice has to be between "voting and being involved in electoral politics" and "doing nothing"- as I say, I do think voting and to an extent working to elect Democrats can be a positive contribution as a palliative measure, but far more positive still would be working to build effective movements in opposition to the current nature of the American system, something that supporting the Democrats will never really do. And to the extent that involvement in electoral politics prevents this from happening, by sucking up money and effort that might otherwise have gone in ultimately more positive directions, I think it does indeed become actively harmful. I can't say how much it does, but I think it does to an extent, and personally I think it's quite a considerable one.

In any case, though I have some quibbles with it, nasreddin's position as he's described it is really not far off from mine at all, and I think he makes a strong case. Arguably, by voting, I'm not being true to my beliefs- I'd also call myself an anarchist, more or less, and though I'm certainly going to vote in this election based on Chomsky's principle I quoted above, given that I'm not in a swing state it really probably amounts to no more than a symbolic gesture of moral purity- no one has really managed to answer nasreddin's question about what actual, demonstrable good it will do if he, personally, votes, and the best answers (like popular mandate, which made not a whit of difference with Bush) don't ultimately amount to much. Also, the hectoring, insulting tone people are generally addressing him with in this thread does not exactly make those using it look good, nor does it do much to disprove his point.

(Note that if you truly think that our system is basically a good one, and that you can mostly get behind the Democratic Party as it is now, including such things as that party by and large supporting warrantless wiretapping, the occupation of Iraq, and the Patriot Act- well, in that case voting and working for the Democratic Party is indeed the most effective way to get what you ultimately want. But it seems to me that a great many Democratic partisans are far, far to the left of their party, yet view that party as on some level agreeing with them or being open to doing so, but being held back by cowardice or public opinion or something along those lines. I do not believe that this is the case.)
posted by a louis wain cat at 9:52 PM on October 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


I mean, you support the Do Not Call Registry, right?

The Do Not Call Registry? Which began in 1991 when Senator Ernest Hollings, representing South Carolina, joined with four co-sponsors (from Texas, Hawaii, Illinois, and Arkansas) to
update the Communications Act of 1934? Sure, I support it! He was responding to consumer complaints, brought by voters, about intrusive sales callers. Their amendment, titled the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, ensured that telemarketers could be sued by consumers if they didn't properly identify themselves and disclose their purposes. They could also be sued if they did not maintain a Do Not Call list and if they did not add anyone requesting it to that list.

This kept a lid on the problem for a while. But about 2002, a drop in international and long-distance calling rates created a surge in the number of Americans receiving marketing calls. Responding to the increase in complaints, Representative Billy Tauzin (Lousiana),. who was chairing the Energy and Commerce Committee, developed legislation called the "Do Not Call Implementation Act." It had 25 co-sponsors and passed the house by a vote of 418-7 (Wonder who those seven were?). The law prohibits callers from calling if they have no previous business relationship with you, limits the times of day they can call, allows fines against people who break the law, and requires companies to cross-check their own Do Not Call lists with the FTC's at least once a month.

The Federal Trade Commission worked with this new legislation to set up the National Do Not Call Registry. President Bush signed the law, and the Registry opened in June 2003. The FTC runs the registry, which takes applications and accepts complaints of violations.

So, yes, I'm totally in support of it. Of course, the Movie Gallery calling me is not a big deal, since I do have a prior business relationship with them (I've got a subscribership). And, you know, it's really no big deal to ignore and erase those calls. But if it bothered me, I could get on their list, and that would be taken care of - thanks to our hardworking representatives in Congress, who we voted in, and who we called, in droves, to ask them to do something about the rash of uncontrolled telemarketing, and who responded by employing the tools of the system - initiative, laws, amendments, debate, committee review, reconciliation, voting, agency oversight, fines - to reduce the opportunity for companies to annoy us with unwanted calls. Go congress!

So yes, I support it.

But I'm not so sure this was a very good argument for you to mount against voting and the democratic system.
posted by Miko at 10:06 PM on October 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


In any case, though I have some quibbles with it, nasreddin's position as he's described it is really not far off from mine at all, and I think he makes a strong case. Arguably, by voting, I'm not being true to my beliefs

Sure. But as you say, the two beliefs - that the two parties aren't equivalent in the policies they'll enact, and the belief that the government is fundamentally flawed - aren't mutually exclusive. You can act on both and be true to both at the same time. It's not required that you sell out one set of beliefs to enact another. You can hold both to be true.

We live in a real world full of tensions, not a world that will suddenly become ideal if you stop voting. So you can do whatever it is you feel morally obligated to do in order to fix the "broken" American system - from outright revolution to defection to anything else you'd like. But there's absolutely no reason not to vote in the meantime. Government has real effects on us every day. In voting, we decide who's in government, and that decision results in hundreds, thousands, of other decisions those individuals will or won't make, which affects your life and the lives of others in real, moral ways. But voting is quick, and you can end your participation there, which is what most voters do (though it's definitely Democracy Lite).

That leaves a lot of time left over to figure out what kind of system would be better and to create it. Which is, indeed, a lot harder than snarking.
posted by Miko at 10:13 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


But I'm not so sure this was a very good argument for you to mount against voting and the democratic system.

Oh please. Gotcha! is a fun game, and I certainly appreciate the historical excursus, but the perfect la-la anarchist fantasy world without democracy that I'm referring to would obviously have its own, decentralized and bottom-up, measures for dealing with telemarketers, just like with everything else. (Unless the telemarketers are all put to the sword in the name of the revolution, of course.)

Government has real effects on us every day. In voting, we decide who's in government, and that decision results in hundreds, thousands, of other decisions those individuals will or won't make, which affects your life and the lives of others in real, moral ways


Look, the problem here is resolving the disjunction between the "we" that you're talking about and the "I" I'm talking about. Now, of course this has a lot of ethical implications (I'm evil and selfish, okay). But the "we" that decides is not just a collection of individual "I"s. It's a statistical reflection of the sum of trends observed in the run-up to the election.

Human beings perceive themselves to be acting independently, but in fact they act according to statistically predictable trends. Ratio of violent crime to all crime in Memphis, 1996. Average age of first childbirth, 1754. Percentage of Democratic vote, 2008. Though we can't predict this with perfect certainty, I wager that Nate Silver at 538.com will have it within 3 points on November 3, and even closer in 2012, and closer still in 2016. Elections are statistically predictable events. You're not deciding; the world situation is. Civic virtue makes no difference, your degree of belief in your vote makes no difference. It's just statistics. When you're dealing with something on this kind of scale, individual opinions cease to matter at all.

I would like a system where my individual opinion matters, because I believe I am special and interesting and deserve a voice in my life beyond its meaningless reflection in a statistical calculation. The system that exists now is not that system, and doesn't resemble it in any particular.
posted by nasreddin at 10:28 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Which is, indeed, a lot harder than snarking.

Why do you people keep bringing this up? The difficulty of whatever you're talking about is no reflection on its worth. It's a stupid and ridiculous argument and stinks of the holier-than-thou.
posted by nasreddin at 10:29 PM on October 1, 2008


I don't think you have a point, nasreddin. You prefer a fantasy form of government which takes as its major defining characteristic that it will always be better than any real government we can talk about in concrete terms. I get it; it's like Anselm's proof for God's existence, just a lovely and just as inconclusive. I can describe a government; you can imagine a better one. Great. Upshot: you're not voting, and I think we're all okay with that.

Pardon our appearance while we engage in an important election.
posted by Miko at 10:41 PM on October 1, 2008


Upshot: you're not voting, and I think we're all okay with that.

So you'll keep pushing your ideology on me, and I'll keep complaining. Fine by me.

At any rate, I don't think utopian or nihilist critiques are valueless. They contribute to a dialogue about the ends and means of government, which is a necessary thing. I've adopted the utopian/nihilist position because I don't find myself able to think my way to any other stance, and it's fine that ultimately my position is ineffectual. It has ever been thus.
posted by nasreddin at 10:51 PM on October 1, 2008


you'll keep pushing your ideology on me,

I have not pushed any ideology on you. As I said, I see no reason to care at all whether you adopt my views or not. I'm simply pointing out that it's unreasonable to expect others to know or comply with your wishes.

They contribute to a dialogue about the ends and means of government, which is a necessary thing.

Ah, I see; that's very noble. Then forgive your readers if your opening statement "LEAVE US THE FUCK ALONE" implied that perhaps you were interested in something other than "a dialogue about the ends and means of government."
posted by Miko at 11:00 PM on October 1, 2008


I have not pushed any ideology on you. As I said, I see no reason to care at all whether you adopt my views or not. I'm simply pointing out that it's unreasonable to expect others to know or comply with your wishes.

No, you in particular haven't done so.

Then forgive your readers if your opening statement "LEAVE US THE FUCK ALONE" implied that perhaps you were interested in something other than "a dialogue about the ends and means of government."


As I said before: if you're interested in harangue instead of dialogue, you can fuck off.
posted by nasreddin at 11:05 PM on October 1, 2008


you can fuck off.

There's that "dialogue" again! Thanks anyway.
posted by Miko at 11:09 PM on October 1, 2008


There's that "dialogue" again! Thanks anyway.

Oh no, I used a bad word! That totally invalidates anything I might have had to say!
posted by nasreddin at 11:13 PM on October 1, 2008


nasreddin: Exactly. While I disagree with your normative implications, this analysis is precisely spot on. Except, where you and iamkimiam see the Oakland Police Department, I see Stalin's show trials: the outcome does not depend on me, but if I don't choose to play in their farce, at least they will have to shoot me arbitrarily rather than with my tacit consent. It's a small consolation, but it's there.

Normative implications aside, for a person who considers things as carefully and thoroughly as the quality of your posts usually implies you do, this overly facile comparison seems to be an uncharacteristically weak piece of reasoning.

Even though the last eight years have seen the US at the epicenter of one the worst political disasters of the last half-century, surely you must concede that the participants in the US system are more valued and have more of a chance to influence the system than those in the Stalinist one?

And if you concede that, then surely it follows that there exist better and worse systems of government.

Those here that are so disgusted with your position are disgusted because it is clear to us that the system is suffering from an overall net lack of quality participants. That is, genuine participants who would think about the issues of government, rather than be unable to look beyond the latest set of talking points.

So, it's just a bit of shame, that's all.
posted by yoz420 at 3:18 PM on October 3, 2008


This link to 538 contains a link to a PDF of a paper in which Prof. Andrew Gelman argues for the rationality of voting in a large election.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:42 AM on October 28, 2008


This link to 538 contains a link to a PDF of a paper in which Prof. Andrew Gelman argues for the rationality of voting in a large election.

This paper isn't a normative argument, it's an empirical one. I don't understand the math, but it looks like it boils down to "I'm going to vote because I believe me not voting would somehow tie in to a bigger negative effect on society at large." Which, in the context of this thread, begs the question. (And the accompanying 538 link proves my point).

Incidentally:

the system is suffering from an overall net lack of quality participants


No, the system is suffering because it is evil and broken. Let's not shit ourselves here. "Quality participants" are just along for the handbasket ride.
posted by nasreddin at 10:43 AM on October 28, 2008


The amount of it is, if the majority vote the Devil to be God, the minority will live and behave accordingly — and obey the successful candidate, trusting that, some time or other, by some Speaker's casting-vote, perhaps, they may reinstate God. This is the highest principle I can get out or invent for my neighbors. These men act as if they believed that they could safely slide down a hill a little way — or a good way — and would surely come to a place, by and by, where they could begin to slide up again. This is expediency, or choosing that course which offers the slightest obstacles to the feet, that is, a downhill one.
- Henry David Thoreau, "Slavery in Massachusetts"
posted by nasreddin at 10:48 AM on October 28, 2008


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