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Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Voting Conundrum

Voting is like homeopathy. The idea is, my vote is critically important, even though we both know that it will be swamped by the votes of the city, county and state in which I live. Nobody wins an election by one vote at the national level. No one does so at the state level, and it is pretty darned rare even at the county or city level.

But, let's ignore facts and pretend my vote really, really matters.

Then this happens:

So, you are from Texas and you voted for an elector, but the elector won't do what you want.

I live in Texas, I didn't vote at all, but I got an elector who will do precisely what I want.

Wow - it's almost like our votes don't matter.

How crazy is that?

And it's not like this is new. Think of the politician who promises to vote "the will of the people." It is childishly easy to keep the promise. Hundreds of thousands of people will vote for him, all of them holding diverse opinions on any particular issue. The politician need only vote for whatever he personally wants, and he has thereby voted "the will of the people."

If his personal opinion happens to match the majority of voters, he is following the mandate of the people. If his personal opinion happens to be opposed by the majority, and championed only by some small minority, then he is defending the needs of the minority against oppression.

See how that works?

No politician can be a liar on this score. As I wrote elsewhere,
So, when I vote, I don't vote in order THAT someone may win. Rather, I vote in order to express the idea that this person is someone I know well enough and I trust well enough to act correctly while they are in office (whether they get that office or not). My vote is a statement about how much I trust another person, a statement that asserts the office-seeker's values are close enough to my own that I have good reason to believe he will serve others well while in office.
It is only in THAT sense that my vote is a moral act. My vote is a short-hand letter of reference. I don't look at the office-seeker and say "Well, he's not as bad as the others, and someone has to do the job, so I suppose he will have to do." Rather, I look at the office seeker on his own, without reference to the other office-seekers. Based on the assessment I make of this seeker alone, I determine if I know him well enough and trust him well enough to endow him with the power of the office.
This is the important part: If none of the office seekers are trustworthy enough, then none of them get my vote.
If voting is a moral act, then my vote is my personal moral statement.That is all it is - it can be no more.

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