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December 25, 2019 / Congau

Elected Illusion

Voting is irrational. No election has ever been decided by just one vote, and no individual has ever made a difference. Whether you, a single voter, participate or not, has no effect whatsoever, so you might as well stay away.

Still, people participate and show up in large number and it’s rather incredible that more than half the population are induced into doing something that has no personal benefit for them or for anyone.

They know the situation, of course, everyone knows that, no one is fooling themselves, but they still do it. Why?

When asked they usually explain that if everyone stayed away, democracy wouldn’t work, and everyone would lose. But this seemingly unselfish attitude doesn’t quite account for the millions of people standing in line under the hot sun on election day, or even the minor inconveniences any voter must go through. People just aren’t that altruistic, and they know of course that one absent voter will not lead to everyone staying away. Why then?

They do it for their own sake, because they are selfish although it’s a rather harmless form of selfishness. It’s the feeling it gives them; the feeling of participating in something quite important, the irrational but still understandable desire to be counted.

If voting is important to you, would you consent to make an agreement with ten non-voters that if they voted for your party or candidate, you would abstain? I suspect most people wouldn’t and that underscores their personal and emotional incentive to participate.

Still, it is irrational. It’s a useful illusion, made up on purpose and believed in without real belief. They know they don’t make a difference, but they convince themselves that they do. It’s a delightful lie.

But the cynics among us, myself included, refuse to play along, as if that did us any good.

Either way it doesn’t make a difference. Vote or abstain and good luck to you!

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