Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Veto Vote

Continuing on the subject of voting, since it's election day: I know a lot of people, including me, feel kind of disillusioned with the whole process of democracy in America. I was thinking about this because, although I don't like the idea of voting for a main party candidate unless I'm really behind them, I did anyway because I didn't want the opponent to win. And then I had an idea: What if we could use our votes to veto? As in, for each position we have one vote, and we can either use it to vote for someone, or against someone. I would bet other people have thought of this before, and at first it seemed kind of negative to me, but then I thought about how it might actually change the democratic process:

  • People could directly lower the chances of a main candidate they didn't like without contributing to polarization.
  • People could vote without voting for someone whose values and policies they disagree with.
  • People could use voting as an avenue to express political negativity and dissatisfaction.
  • There wouldn't be as much of an incentive for smear campaigning. If a main party focuses on making the other party look bad, it might only cause people to vote against either party. To get positive votes, a party may have to advertise its own positive features.
  • The candidates who attract the least antagonization would have a better chance.

Obviously it wouldn't be a perfect system, and I don't really know how it would turn out, but to me it seems like an improvement. What do you think?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Why Are You Voting?

Often around election time I feel surrounded by a mentality that voting in the election is very important, and I don't understand why. When I was in college, I recoiled from the idea, and published an article in the school paper called "I Don't Want to Be Pressured to Vote." Years later, and after having voted, I find that I still agree with the mentality I presented then.

I think the "everyone should vote" mentality seems overwhelming and over-generalized. I think what's more important than whether you vote is why you're voting. Are you voting because everyone else does? Because you think you should? Because if you tell people you voted, they'll say "Good for you. You are a good American citizen." Or are you voting because you think you know something about the political system, and you think you have an opinion about which option would be best for everyone? If that last statement is true, then yes, I think it would be a good idea for you to vote, if you want to.

I still don't want anyone to feel pressured to vote. Especially people who feel that their political knowledge and understanding are inadequate in order for them to make a decision. Some people say that it's important to be politically informed anyway. I think it's good to be, if possible, but I also think that it's really hard to get an accurate perspective on just simple political facts. I get the sense that there are a lot of factors behind the scenes that just aren't presented to the public at all, at least not very accessibly. I like the idea that political decisions are made by people who have adequate knowledge of how the system works and care about it.