Saturday, October 31, 2020

Negative Voting - Again

 I have written about negative voting in the past, with approval. There is a long and honored tradition of such in America, and likely everywhere else.  On local races, I usually am actually positive about some candidates, but the farther up the line we go in importance, the more likely I am to view the race in terms of "who do I want to keep out?" The last, and perhaps only time I voted for someone in a presidential election was John Anderson in 1980, and I now think I was wrong. I voted for Bush 41 in 1992 and Bush 43 in 2004 with at least partial positives. The rest were more strongly motivated by keeping someone out. Yet even I fall into the trap of thinking that I have to have strong positives about who I vote for.

In the lead up to the 2016 election I wrote a series on why your vote doesn't matter, but you should do it anyway. The typos I note upon rereading I have not fixed.  The world didn't end last time I left them in and is unlikely to this time.

Voting I - Short Introduction, with good comments

Voting IIA
Your vote is almost invisible and your influence negligible.

Voting IIB- Bad Reasons.  You will make your choices for bad reasons. A long post, and you have to like this research into motives stuff.  You might want to click on it experimentally but be ready to bail if it's not your thing. Unfortunately, it's well into that post that the "reason for voting anyway" occurs. It does have music, though.  There's that.

Summary: The reason to vote is that making that decision is a window into your current thinking and current biases.  As your biases are going to matter more than your reasons, it's good to look at them rather than going on fooling yourself that you are being rational.

In my search through my archives I also found The Voting Dead, concerned that the deceased are being deprived of their traditional votes. Also AVI interviews old Yankee Eb Jenkins about voting requirements, which I still like.

I note from the comments of a lot of posting in the run-up last time that people were concerned that Trump was going to enrich himself from the presidency (Granite Dad), or that he would have access to the nuclear suitcase and could blow us all up (PJ O'Rourke, quoted by my neighbor Earl). I was worried that he would take his thin-skinned nature international and get us into even more wars because someone offended him. (I believe we were up to seven wars at that point.) Those things not only did not turn out to be true, their opposites are closer. I also thought we were on the verge of an economic tumble no matter who was elected and worried that our foreign policy situation was unusually bad going into 2017 - again, whoever was elected.  I was wrong there, too. (Reading your old stuff can be humbling.)


Donna B. said...

I've never understood why anyone would call Trump "thin-skinned".

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I see your point, in that he does not seem to take any damage. However, he over-responds to slights. Perhaps there is a better word for that.

Douglas2 said...

Perhaps more from conversations than from my single-vote; but I think one's vote this election can make a huge difference for national politics 4 or more biennial elections from now.

Ideologues who want the power of elected office most frequently start with the low-barrier-to-entry town/village/county & school-board elected positions.

I think that is the best time to make sure that they are defeated and discouraged from that line of work. The ones blinkered by ideology, the ones who think proclamations on US foreign policy is rightly the remit of town officials, the ones who make campaign promises about things that aren't even within the purview of the position they are seeking. Doesn't matter what party, make sure they don't get the seat.

So I argue that the bottom/back of the ballot is really the most important in the long-term. The closer to the top of the ballot, the more likely things are to be effectively 'pre-ordained'.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Unknown - a good point. We probably have more influence, especially negative influence, on local races. Spreading the word that Harry is a jerk will have some effect.

@ Donna B - and upon further review, there is less of that defensiveness about Trump now than there was four years ago. He spent a month on the short fingers last time and I can't imagine him doing other than shrugging it off now.

RichardJohnson said...

So I argue that the bottom/back of the ballot is really the most important in the long-term. The closer to the top of the ballot, the more likely things are to be effectively 'pre-ordained'.

Which is why I am voting straight Republican. Unfortunately, some offices have Democrats running unopposed.

Texan99 said...

It's never bothered me that I didn't have a candidate on the ballot about whom I was 100% enthusiastic on all points. It's not my job to withhold my vote until I'm presented with the perfect candidate. It's my job to do my part in choosing the best candidate available. To withdraw from that duty would strike me as unreasonable fastidious and irresponsible as a citizen.

I was so worried about Trump in 2016 that I sat back for a moment and considered, "Am I really sure this is a better use of my vote than to support Clinton?" It didn't take long for me to conclude that, yes, of course, I must vote for Trump. I'm not sure what conceivable Republican candidate could have been bad enough to inspire me to vote for Clinton, but it certainly wasn't Trump. And I do not sit elections out. Not ever. I won't even cast a protest vote for someone I believe has virtually no chance of winning. That's not what my country needs from me.