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Monday, November 03, 2008

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Millions voted for Bob Dole for President in 1996 knowing full well that he was going to lose. Millions voted for Michael Dukakais in 1988 knowing full well he was going to lose (I was one of them). Were they protest voters? Did the newspapers run stories in 1988 about how over forty million Americans cast protest votes for candidates who had no realistic chance of winning?

How about this year? Obama is way ahead in the polls. Do the millions of people who are casting their votes for McCain really believe their guy has a chance to win?

Millions voted for Bob Dole for President in 1996 knowing full well that he was going to lose. Millions voted for Michael Dukakais in 1988 knowing full well he was going to lose (I was one of them). Were they protest voters?

This is an excellent argument - can't believe I never thought of it myself. What a shame I'll have to wait three more years before getting to use it. When I do, I'll be sure to mention my 1984 vote for "Landslide Wally" Mondale.

You see, John, America loves a winner and sneers at a loser. So in order to be a good voter, you have to figure out who's going to win and vote for that person so you can vote for a winner. Voting for a loser means you're a loser yourself, and America only loves winners.

Hm. Maybe that doesn't sound so good. How about this:

You see, John, America is a democracy, so in America, the majority rules. If you're in a minority, you're a loser. You want to be in the majority, because the majority rules, dewd! So you have to find out who's going to win, so you can be part of the majority that rules! Otherwise you're just wasting your vote, 'cause, like, if you're so smart, you'll want to be in the majority and vote for a winner not a loser.

Hm. That doesn't sound so good either.

But seriously, judging from conversations I've had with ordinary Americans over the years, something like one or both of the positions I've just sketched does lurk in the minds of many people. Stated explicitly as I just did, they sound pretty stupid, but so do lots of things that people believe -- beliefs that depend on not being stated explicitly. (Another example: many if not most people believe that sex/gender is a continuum, that a man is more of something than a woman is. In many men's minds there is the fear that, if they fail to be manly enough, they will lose manly-points or whatever, and in time they will turn into a woman, which is a fate worse than death. I had noticed this even before Thomas Laqueur published his book "Making Sex", which argued that until the last few centuries, Western science had used a one-sex model, with males imagined as possessing more vital heat or something than women, and with a real danger that a man who loses his vital heat will turn into a woman.)

Some people come very close to holding such opinions explicitly, though. Today I heard someone, a college student I think, speak of the election as if it were a football or basketball game, and one of the candidates was going to go all the way to the White House. With war, politics, and pro sports mixed together in people's minds, it's no wonder we're confused. Would you bet on a team that you knew was going to lose?

...something like one or both of the positions I've just sketched does lurk in the minds of many people.

Yep, agreed. I've seen it many times myself.

Another one I've observed: people fear (or expect) that whatever they do in the voting booth makes it more likely that hundreds of thousands of other people will do it as well. So it's unthinkable for them to check that box for a third party candidate, because then those other people might do the same thing—and where's your safe state then? This is generally subconscious, I think, but I've heard a few people voice it explicitly.

(I know I've sometimes come home from voting and watched the election results and thought, what?!? How could proposition X possibly have failed? I distinctly remember voting for it!)

This is just a specific instance of the general rule that doing something yourself makes it seem more likely that other people will do it as well, which I think connects to our inability to conceive of large groups of people except in the abstract—so we effectively assign ourselves (again, usually subconsciously) as an avatar for others.

LOL! Yes, that "cheeses" me! Just kidding...

I am stil on for Voter trading...but the Nader site at Truth Dig is hoppin' with rationalizers and Nader supporters!!

It is filling my email box!

Sob! I love this place.

Yay for you, John. I cast my mainstream-type vote for Ralph Nader. It may have been partly a gesture, but I consider it not as a "protest," but as an affirmative nod to his pro-peace stand.

PRIME/GRIMLOCK 2012

Just votee for Moore/Alexasnder, and took 5 vets with me to vote--none had voted for moer than 10 yrs. 3 had to cast provisional ballots. But, it is Ohio--and everythings fine.

I voted for Nader today. Is it hard to imagine him as President? I have no trouble seeing it at all. I don't think it is a protest vote. I honestly want him to win. I hope he does.

That made me smile. I really like your attitude.

So who were the protest voters in Nancy Pelosi's Congressional race? The 17 percent who voted for Sheehan, or the 9% who voted for the Republican candidate?

Can we call those who vote with the majority the sucker vote?

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