Democracy’s Majesty and 2016’s Indignity
After Tuesday, life will go on, and things are so bad they almost have to get better.
Nov 3, 2016
Thinking about Election Day I realized how much I miss the majesty of the old voting procedures. You used to go into a tall booth and stand alone and no one could see you vote. The booth was enclosed by dark curtains. You entered and pulled a big metal lever and it closed the curtain behind you. You faced long rows of candidate names with a metal toggle switch next to each. You could put your finger on the toggle and hesitate, or you could smack it down like it was a nail and you were a hammer. There was a satisfying little click. I used to take my little boy and explain what we were doing and why it was important. When you were all done you’d pull the big metal lever again, and that would lock in your vote (you hoped—America has always been full of mischief) and the curtain would open with a whoosh and you’d emerge, a citizen who’d done a citizen’s noble work. Pretty much everyone voted on Election Day itself so it was a communal experience. You saw your neighbors.
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How they talk you out of voting
Nov 6, 2016
The easiest way to win an election is to get the people who might vote for your opponent to not vote.
TV has proven an effective engine behind this strategy, and voter turnout has plummeted since campaigns began running significant TV campaigns 50 years ago.
It works because it’s not that difficult to talk someone out of voting.
The two most common unstated reasons for not voting are:”I don’t want to vote for the person who loses, because I’ll feel badly having wasted my vote and being associated with the unpopular outcome.”
“I don’t want to vote for the person who wins, because then I’ll be partly responsible for whatever happens.”
A popular rationale to justify either of these reasons is:
“I don’t like either candidate, they’re both terrible.”
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