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Who cares who runs things?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Dcc001, Apr 15, 2010.

  1. Dcc001

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    A topic that I've researched several times, both during my undergraduate work and while taking a master's, is voter apathy. We are fortunate to live in one of the few times throughout history where goverance is dictated by the people, through their ballot. However, within the last several decades, voter turnout has plummeted. This is particularly true with young adults.

    Here are some interesting statistics. One of the things about this article that blew me away was that the youngest age group (18-20 year olds), cited "just not interested" as their main reason for abstaining - a whopping 60% of them.

    Focus: Do you vote? Do you think it's an important role as a citizen?

    Alt. Focus: Does voting truly matter?
    Voter turnout rates have fallen dramatically (as compared to the Boomer's post-war turnout), and most developed countries still seem to function fairly smoothly.
     
  2. Justadude

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    I personally love low voter turn out for one major reason. Americans are fucking dumb. If you can name more American idol contestants than members of your government don't vote.

    Without getting too political I also have a rant about how the illusion of democracy was the best tool the aristocracy ever used to keep the masses in check. The major example being the lack of outcry when Bush lost the popular vote
     
  3. epsilon

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    Those statistics are misleading. The selected certain specific elections to demonstrate their point of view. In Canada, vote turnout has dropped by an average of about 10% in the last 60 years of so. It's a drop, but it's not a dramatic drop, especially if you consider the political context in which some of those election were held. link to Elections Canada. I will admit, however that the vote turnout among young adults is troubling.

    In the U.S, if you look at the big picture, you will see that voter turnout has not changed alot in the last sixty years of so. link to U.S vote turnout.

    I beleive voting is still a very important part of democracy. There are some important things happening politically in Canada and in the United-states right now. Voting is a way to show the politicians that you care. If young adults voted a bit more, maybe our representatives would listen more carefully to what they are saying.
     
  4. Beefy Phil

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    PhilaLawyer said it best:

    That doesn't mean I won't vote. It just means I understand why other people don't.
     
  5. JProctor

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    It's not particularly sad that you assert this position, but it is sad that you assert this position and don't realize how stupid you are.

    Their are lots of intelligent people I know who vote, but none of them actually think their vote matters. Rather, they vote because of the emotional benefit, and the sense of civic duty offered by the question.

    If you aren't familiar with Black's Theorem, rational ignorance or asymptotically declining marginal utility, please educate yourself before forming an opinion.
     
  6. ssycko

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    I live in New York. Of the past 10 presidential elections, New York has voted Republican only 3 times, 2 of them were for Reagan, and there hasn't been a Republican win here in the past two decades.

    If somebody would like to explain to me, aside from the emotional benefit, what the purpose of me voting is, regardless of whom I vote for, I'd be happy to hear it.
     
  7. Beefy Phil

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    I never really understood this. No one with an understanding of the process believes their individual vote matters. Not in that "Oh, I'm just one in three hundred million" sort of way. In the "We use an Electoral College that could feasibly do what it pleases despite the popular vote" sort of way. There's also so much evidence of corruption, number-fudging, vote-buying and palm-greasing that no rational person believes that a national election works exactly the way they were told it did in 8th grade Social Studies.

    And yet, 'civic duty' compels us to participate, anyway. Isn't that fundamentally delusional? To understand how meaningless a gesture is beyond self-satisfaction and tradition, but still carry it out? It seems like medicine for the ego.
     
  8. ghettoastronaut

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    I've only been able to vote in one election so far, but I did vote. My vote is really more of a statistical curiosity given where I live. "Aww, isn't that cute, there are people who didn't vote for [moron] in [riding]."

    Given the way things are shaping up in the provincial election, I'm honestly tempted to get involved in a campaign. I don't want to get into a political discussion, but given what's in the news around here lately and how hard my profession and classmates are going to get fucked in a few months (people are essentially waiting to get laid off) I'd like to at least try to persuade people to vote in the right direction.
     
  9. Solaris

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    I vote when I can though I don't see it as that big of a deal. The UK elections are in a month or so and as a republican living in the north of Ireland, if my candidate wins they won't take up their seat in the UK parliament. Hard to see the point really in voting for that but until we get our 32 county socialist republic I'll do my bit and put a cross in a box every four years.
     
  10. Elset

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    I don't vote. It's not that I don't think my vote doesn't matter, it's just that I don't much care for politics. Because I don't care, it means I don't pay attention. This, of course, means that I don't know what any of the candidates' platforms are.

    I'd rather not vote than make an uneducated vote, or vote for who my mom tells me to vote for. And I'm sure most people would agree with me there.
     
  11. toddus

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    I strongly believe in compulsary voting. Why I also understand the argument that it is a democratic right not to vote; however I believe that to protect that very democratic right some sacrifice is required and that means voting. You can always display your right not to vote in the form donkey voting on the day.
     
  12. The Good Doctor

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    If voting made a difference, they wouldn't let us do it. We've been given the illusion of choice, and people love to feel like they're part of a team, and to root against the other side.
     
  13. effinshenanigans

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    I vote so I can earn my right to complain.

    I pay attention to the political stances and views of the potential candidates as best I can, and form an educated opinion about how I'd like the people representing me to act in office. Win or lose, I've still earned the right to complain. If the person I voted for wins and ends up doing a shitty job, then I can criticize them for not living up to their potential or being full of shit during their campaign and delivering nothing they've promised. This happens quite often. If the other person wins, then I can complain that they were never right (for me) in the first place. Either way, I've done my duty and can voice my opinion.

    Nothing pisses me off more than some idiot who says, "Fuck (insert politician)! They're ruining this country. That's why I don't vote."

    To that person I say shut your useless fucking mouth. If you don't make the small effort to participate in the voting process--however minute your impact on the results actually is--then you shouldn't complain about anything. It's like complaining that you got an F in a class you never went to.
     
  14. KIMaster

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    I vote quite regularly.

    However, I think voter apathy is a good thing. There are a lot of problems intrinsic to democracy, the most startling one being that a well-educated, knowledgeable citizen forcibly donating $50k+ a year to the coffers of Uncle Sugar has his vote count as much as my 81 year-old, non-English speaking grandmother, who has never worked in this country, and knows nothing about the candidates or political system.

    In general, apathy comes from younger adults with even less knowledge than those who do vote. (scary as that is to contemplate) Them not contributing even further to a broken system with their misinformed, idiotic votes can only be a good thing.
     
  15. Beefy Phil

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    I used to think this way, but lately I'm not so sure. You could argue that refusing to vote is a form of protest. An extremely passive form of protest, but protest nonetheless. The nature of the two-party system is such that if the individual voter wants to see the tangible result of civic participation, they have to choose between A or B. The thing is, more often than not, A and B act the same, speak the same, smile the same, and campaign the same. Yeah, they differ on some issues. But, historically, we've been given the choice between two already-powerful, comparatively wealthy candidates. People have come to distrust both the image of the politician and the effectiveness of the electoral process itself, and who can blame them? In that sense, those who opt out are choosing not to choose based on a perceived lack of choice.

    The smaller the scale, the less applicable this argument becomes. I'd say it's vastly more important for the average citizen to vote in elections for city councils, state senators, school boards, mayors and positions of that ilk, than it is for them to vote in the presidential election.
     
  16. Frebis

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    I've voted in every election I have been able to. I only vote because one day I want to be rich*, and I want the government to have as little of my money as possible. So I vote whichever way will allow my wallet to prosper the most. Fuck poor people. If they want my money, they can work for me.

    *-Don't get me wrong, I will debate you all day on social issues. But in the end the only real thing I stand firm on is my money.
     
  17. dubyu tee eff

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    Sorry dude, but I have to disagree too. George Carlin covered this. Why shouldn't the people who didn't have the right to complain? The people who didn't vote did not help the politician causing consternation get into power.

    I haven't voted yet, but I might. I was very well informed during the previous election, but quite frankly, just couldn't pick a side. That is one valid reason, I think, for not voting: inability to decide.

    Another reason was already mentioned. I too live in New York which had pretty much 0 chance of going the other way, so why the fuck waste my time? I remember some statistician finding that I had a higher chance of dying on the way to the tollbooth than my vote influencing an election. The electoral college being eliminated would be one very easy and huge step towards increasing voter turnout.

    Third, I think the profession of politics selects for a certain personality type which I find quite scary. Generally, narcissistic, power-hungry, and possibly having sociopathic tendencies. For this reason, I stay very skeptical of all politicians regardless of how well they wax hyperbole.

    In the future, I will have a hard time voting for assholes or idiots. This, unfortunately, describes the vast majority of politicians.

    There are, however, several small reforms that could be made that would make me and others I believe more likely to vote. For example, to address the Nader phenomenon where your vote actually ends up helping the candidate you hate most, I would prefer a ranking system where instead of just casting a vote for one candidate, one would rank the candidates in order of preference with point values assigned to each position. Most points wins. This would also help marginal parties have greater role in politics, which is something I would wholeheartedly support.
     
  18. effinshenanigans

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    Listen, I love George Carlin, and his comedy definitely displayed a great deal of intelligence, but the problem is that, no matter what, there will always be someone in power causing problems for someone else. By not voting, you don't do anything to hinder that symptom of government.

    I bet a lot of people in Massachusetts were saying that before Kennedy died, too.

    I'm not going to be all high and mighty voter, though. In the long run, I feel like many times I'm simply voting for the lesser of two evils, the guy who sucks less than the other guy. It's not a perfect system, but it's what we've got. But what I will say is that by doing that, I feel that the less sucky guy might make things suck less. The next one I vote for will be the one who sucks less than the other, and maybe he or she will make things suck a little bit less. In many ways it's like chipping away at a boulder with a spoon, but any progress that we can achieve is worth it as far as I'm concerned.

    Maybe I'm displaying a naive expectation that this is actually what's happening, but to me it's better than doing nothing.
     
  19. JProctor

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    Based on your critical reasoning skills, the blind leaps you make in argument, and your overwhelming desire to garner attention on an anonymous forum, there is exactly zero chance you are even a remotely successful lawyer. If you aren’t working in insurance defense or document review, I’d be shocked.

    I will try to make my point again, with smaller, less scary words. Those esoteric theories dictate that you cannot vote to benefit yourself financially, based on the twin effects of your vote not making a difference in who wins, and the politician who wins not making a difference in legislation.

    I have little doubt that this will be lost on you, and even if it isn’t, that you care at all about listening and learning instead of incessantly braying. However, there are hopefully some intellectually curious people reading this that, despite not being able to put their finger directly on why, didn’t really understand the point of voting, or collective behavior in general. If this gives them some clarity, that’s great.

    Then again, you called me a “dickhead sociology major.” That’s a pretty good burn, too.
     
  20. Beefy Phil

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    Again, the argument could be made that this isn't actual progress, but a maintenance of the status quo that dispenses the illusion of progress. A new official is in office, so things must be changing, right? Maybe. Maybe not.

    People don't want to believe that they are without control, especially in democratic countries where the worth of the individual is constantly hammered into our brains. They don't even want to believe that they only matter slightly in the grand scheme of things. On the contrary, we've been taught from childhood that our participation on an individual level is crucial to the success of American democracy. Those who challenge the value of that system by refusing to engage it are automatically labeled as stupid or lazy or radical (plenty of them are), instead of citizens who notice serious flaws in the process that most people cannot or will not acknowledge or work to change.