I’ve spent the past few months debating many friends and strangers about the upcoming U.S. presidential elections. I’ve taken pains to explain, through what I think is sound logic, that voting for one of the two big parties – again – is ridiculous. If, that is, we are interested in systemic reform in government that would restore its original role of representing citizens instead of corporations.
I am not writing this, however, as another attempt at convincing you to vote for a third party (or not vote at all) in these elections, even though that is the only rational way to get out of this mess – a mess in which our puny vote doesn’t have any significant impact on government policy, a mess that some would simply refer to as a cluster f***. How are we going to push for reform through policymaking in a system that we acknowledge to determine public policy based primarily on the size of the suitcase containing crisp, unmarked dollar bills?
The reason I am writing this is to explain why I don’t think I’ll ever be able to win this argument, even with people who understand the absurdity of the electoral system and of voting for the “lesser of two evils.” What I’ve come to realize is that such Obamney voters are motivated by fear, not reason.
I think we know very well what kind of individual and collective sacrifices are to be made and risks to be taken in order to restore democracy in this country, but we’re afraid to take that leap. We’re afraid to trust that others will join us in doing the right thing. We’re afraid that we’ll be left hanging. We know the power of collective action. Yeah, that’s right, it’s what brought us the 8-hour work day among many other nice perks. Of course, fear can be good. We posses the ability to feel fear for a reason, and that we can agree on whether you believe in the yet-to-be-disproven scientific theory of evolution or in Intelligent Design. But when we give fear full authority to guide us, we stop being human – or at least happy people.
Game Theory suggests that an Obamney victory is the only possible outcome of these elections. It would be wrong, though, to think that such an outcome is based on reasoning on behalf of the individuals involved. Perhaps if we started trusting and communicating with one another, we could end up in the “win, win” corner of the matrix instead of the “lose, lose.” Why can’t we seem to accomplish that? Well, that’s a whole other story…