Why Johnny can't vote...

Democracy only works if the people vote for their best interests. I know, this sounds like a no-brainer, but people frequently vote contrary to their own interests in support of a given ideology. For example - Teabaggers, who are mostly 40+ are voting for candidates who wish to abolish Social Security. I acknowledge that a candidate's platform is complicated and you shouldn't decide based on one issue, but it's hard to imagine a combination of positions that could outweigh not getting back all the money you've paid into Social Security over the course of your working life. There are other examples - Log Cabin Republicans spring to mind...

There are several ways to explain this phenomena. The optimistic explanation relies on an educated, informed populace. We assume that these voters have studied the platforms of the candidates, carefully weighed each, then chosen the one who most closely represents their interests. If this is the case, then democracy is functioning (assuming the candidates are being honest about their positions - but that's a topic for another day...).

Another explanation relies on an uninformed populace - or at the very least, a populace that is only informed selectively on certain topics. These voters are swayed by the 4th Estate and convinced to vote outside their best interests, usually by way of fear. This fear can take any form, and as we've seen of late, it doesn't even need to be a real threat - anchor/terror babies, Socialism/Communism/Fascism, non-citizen president, death panels, etc.

Even this would be tolerable if the goal of the press was an even-handed coverage of the events. They tell would-be journalists in college that their mission is exactly that. They are led to believe that their task is accurate reporting without bias. Unfortunately, the goal of the press is much simpler than that - profit. Since it is easier, as Alexis De Tocqueville pointed out, for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth, it is easier for the press to make money when it simplifies and sensationalizes. There is very little incentive to present the events in-depth, nor to present them with all of their complexities intact.

This is why so many people vote in baffling ways, and why our democracy doesn't bring the will of the people to fruition. I've come to the conclusion that the only solution to this issue is education, and it's not a cure - just a treatment. Even if we educate the citizenry to a very high level of critical thinking competency, they can only work with the data to which they have access.

So - there's your depressing ramble for the day. I welcome more positive views from the cyberFlock.

7 comments:

fleur said...

Well, ya know, people mostly suck.

Why is the truth so seldom positive?

His Sinfulness said...

Yes, Arsholischmus is very prevalent. We are developing a treatment plan, but it involves rectally administered shock therapy, so we're having a hard time finding volunteers...

Teh Dr. said...

I just want to bludgeon the stupid out of people. I must strengthen my arms to have enough endurance it seems. I will be bludgeoning all day.

His Sinfulness said...

All day, every day, Herr Doktor. You will need very strong arms...

Mayren said...

(in a very small voice) on the bright side, there are a few handful of people who are enlightened and occasionally find each other in the midst of this chaos to chat about common ideas, and interests among themselves. A small "flock" of people to turn to who understand. These types of people help keep me sane and plodding along life day in and day out looking for even more of the same people.

(hands out cyber flock buttons to all....)

His Sinfulness said...

Mayren,
That was freakin' adorable. :)

So adorable, that now I am contemplating an actual cyberFlock button...

Mayren said...

if i had a button press... i'd be on.

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