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Left vs Right - Are People Ignoring the Real Problem?

GrumpyGuyGrumpyGuy Member
edited February 2017 in Breaktime
I don't need to tell any of you that the Internet and TV are both absolutely overflowing with both Left and Right-leaning individuals accusing one another of being the singular cause of the world's current problems.

In the 2016 American Presidential election, only 55% of Americans actually voted.  This tells me, personally, that 45% of Americans, a percentage that far outweighs either Republicans or Democrats individually, were so disheartened, disinterested or disinclined regarding their choices that they chose to stay home.

What makes a person stay home?  I think these are some of the more common reasons, some of which can be shared by any individual:

1)  Lack of support for either of the Two Parties and/or their candidates, (basically a protest vote, which I believe doesn't exist in America - correct me if I'm wrong about that)

2)  Lack of support for or protest against the current state of American "democracy"

3)  Political apathy brought about by the assumption that the third-party candidate they like has no chance

4)  Political apathy brought about by disgust, hopelessness or some other negative relationship with politics

5)  Political apathy brought about by the belief that nothing ever changes for the little guy, so who cares about voting?

6)  General indolence and disinterest

In my experience, some voters tend to be harshly critical of anyone who stays home, regardless of the reason.  I often heard the argument growing up, "If you didn't vote, you have no right to complain!"  I always questioned that, because - what if you didn't vote because you had a complaint about each choice presented to you?  I think the only answer I ever got to that was, "Well, just vote for the least evil, then."  I declined, and have not been a voter save the very first time I became old enough to vote (I'm also no longer allowed to vote in Canada because I'm an immigrant to another country, although I still wouldn't if I could).  I recall at the time wanting to vote for the Communist Party, because I thought politics was a joke (still not sure if I was wrong), but wound up voting Green because there was no Communist candidate in my area to vote for.  The Greens, of course, lost enormously.

Are all non-voters really just a bunch of pot-smoking adult-children hiding in their parents' basement, as the media and numerous talk people would have us believe?  I don't personally think so.  I actually think that the indolent, disinterested group is the smallest percent of those who don't vote.  Personally, I'm willing to wager that the majority of those who don't vote fall into either the Protest or Apathy categories I listed above.

Those who protest have very valid points to make, as can be shown by numerous past elections and not just the colossal mess that was Clinton vs Trump, as well as numerous terrible world leaders currently in power.  Modern democracy is a game wherein some rich people compete for power with the advice and financial backing of other rich people.  Modern democracy is almost always a tug-of-war played between two dusty and prehistoric political parties that are too large for anyone else to dislodge.  The ground the tug-of-war is played on?  The lives of the people in that nation.  If you're being trampled by a pair of tyrannosaurs, wouldn't you protest the entire situation?

The apathetic are easy targets for many, but I wonder if the wiser members of society might be among them.  When you have seen no change in your personal life or feel that neither candidate deserves to be handed the reigns to a horse, let alone a country, it makes perfect sense to stay at home on election day.  If you believe and accept that small numbers of people cannot effectively govern large populations, it makes sense not to cast a vote - especially since "Anarchy" will never be an option on any ballot.

And that, I think, leads me to a point I wish to make - all ballots should include an option stating:  "I protest the available candidates" as well as another option stating: "I protest the current state of our government and believe it unlikely to change."  If those options were offered and - this is important - tallied up and reported during elections, I think we'd get a much clearer picture of what Americans or whoever really think and feel.  Making voting compulsory to non-invalids would also help ensure that accurate numbers come out (who knows - maybe 61% of Americans are actually Democrats?)

Anyway, I wounder whether or not  either the Democratic or Republican supporters would be so confident in their rhetoric if they had a statistic indicating that 31% of all Americans protested the available candidates, with another 14% declaring the entire process a sham?

Low-level commentary briefly touches on the lack of voter turnout, but no one seems to dwell very long on what that actually means.

Also worth mentioning is that only half of millennials voted, meaning half of them either protest both candidates, are apathetic or just plain lazy.  55% of millennials voted for Clinton, so all we can know for sure is that a quarter of millennials are actually left-leaning "libtards" as the Internet likes to call them.  Considering that all millennials tend to get lumped into that category by default, the numbers show faulty thinking on the part of critics and analysts.

What are your thoughts?  Should voting be mandatory?  If so, should ballots require protest vote options?  Should ballots require them even if voting is not mandatory?

Is the lack of turnout more important than either the reds or the blues?

Should I put on a monkey suit and eat bananas in front of the Japanese National Diet until Abe gets the message?


  • On further thought, I think an analysis of people who *do* vote should be made, briefly.

    Why do people vote?

    1)  They have studied and understand the current issues facing their country, and strongly believe that one candidate/party has promising plans to address them

    2)  They have been told what the current issues facing their country are by politicians and/or the media, and have been convinced by propaganda that one candidate/party has promising plans to address them

    3)  They always vote for the same party, no matter what

    4)  Their family/community/peers vote for whichever party, so they follow suit on principle or out of pressure

    5)  They vote for whichever party seems to defend their religious beliefs

    6)  They vote for one candidate because they hate or are offended by the other candidate (people voting for Clinton just because they hate Trump, for example)

    7)  They vote randomly or on a whim, because they feel it is their duty to vote, yet have no opinion about the candidates

    (I'm going to start using more colours to make my posts more readable, unless anyone objects).

    Perhaps some other categories exist that I'm missing.  I personally think the people in category 1 are the only ones voting for the right reasons (save for those voting not to vote out of protest and/or apathy).  That said, what percent of active voters actually study and understand the current issues?  I have no data, but I'm guessing it isn't a majority percentage.  I'm guessing it is, in fact, a rather small percentage.

    It seems to me that most voters have no real ground to stand on when complaining and fighting with one another.  A woman who voted Trump because she always votes Republican has no moral advantage over a man who voted Clinton because he was convinced by media and celebrity propaganda to vote for her.  And yet, such people are fighting tooth and nail at this very moment to establish a dominance that will earn them... what?  I have no idea. 

    It's almost like a group of people who believe the sky is pink are arguing and fighting with a group of people who believe the sky is yellow while the people who have actually been outside and seen that the sky is filled with invading flying saucers stand to the side, unwilling, unable or without permission to butt in with a much-needed correction.

    It's a perplexing situation.

  • GrumpyGuyGrumpyGuy Member
    edited February 2017
    Correction to above percentages:

    I completely neglected to include independent votes.  Only 40% of Americans didn't actually vote at all.  Still a significant number, as was the 45% I erroneously listed above.

    To make things easier to consider, here is a pie chart I made showing percentages:

  • I think #5 on the list of why people vote should be "lifestyle beliefs" more than just religion. People can interpret religion however they choose and it normally gets tailored to how they choose to live.
    Alongside that people may vote due to their sexual orientation or deeply held "scientific" beliefs.

    I personally fall closest to #2 of why people don't vote. I think it's a system rigged so it can't be changed within itself.

    I heard the "if you don't vote you can't complain" nonsense so many times last year.

    Are you gonna tell me "I can't complain" when your candidate stabs you in the back? I didn't ask for them, you did, I'll complain all I please.

    Funny how many of those people who said that addage in favor of Trump to me are telling the Clinton supporters to shut up and deal with it. They voted though... doesn't that deliver them the right to complain by their logic?
    11-13 Illinois
  • Matt_ADMIN_Matt_ADMIN_ Administrator
    edited February 2017
    a.     An absolutely fantastic, interesting and thorough analysis of the voter landscape. Earned a pick.

    b.     I'm with Hans, in that I've also come to the conclusion that the system exists for its own perpetuation, and has no built-in mechanisms for correction or change, at least at this point. The only way things will change is if an outside force acts upon the system to force it to change, or...

    c.     People need to realize that they're doing something far more important when they vote than selecting between two identical candidates with minor aesthetic differences; they're giving their permission to the system to continue on going as its going. Has everyone noticed that politicians always say, "Go out in vote!", and often will add, "It doesn't matter for whom, just vote!" They do this because the system needs to live on, and it only lives on and possesses legitimacy via the participation of its tenants. If no one voted, there would be no more democracy, no more legitimacy to a system that uses passivity as fuel to work its dealings, which is what rubbing a pencil on a slip of paper essentially is.

    d.     Mandatory voting would be the only way to reverse this, and I imagine would frighten a lot of people into voting. But still, if everyone chose not to vote, even a small fraction of the population, there wouldn't be enough prisons to house them all. I suppose they could fine everyone, but there are ways around that as well.

    e.     Voting is a sort of sedative, a sort of exhaust pipe that allows people with legitimate concerns to do something that alleviates their emotional symptoms while not rocking the boat. Since the system has divided itself into flavours, which people call "parties", "political wings", and a variety of other names, every tribe has its place to vent, and because everyone has a place to dig their trench, they're content with the continuation of the system. If, right now, someone believes their tribe correct and another tribe incorrect, they've fallen for the scam. Neither tribe is correct, nor will have its desires reflected, aside from aesthetically, in the system's reigning flavour.

    f.     People don't even realize what they're voting for in most cases, and I don't mean regarding issues or personalities and all that. I mean, they don't realize that when they register and mark that little slip of paper, they're signing over their freedom to another person, giving that person permission to make decisions on their behalf. Under no other circumstances would most reasonable people consider this acceptable, but it suddenly becomes so every four or so years. People don't need other people to tell them what to do, period. They have the full ability to choose their own independent actions, actions which include cooperation with one another on any scale. There doesn't need to be a intermediary for that to happen.
    "...Say, 'GOD is sufficient for me.' In Him the trusters shall trust." (Quran 39:38)
  • Rosie_MOD_Rosie_MOD_ Moderator
    edited February 2017
    In Australia it's mandatory to vote once you're 18 unless you have a valid exemption or somehow avoid being listed on the roll. Those who choose not to cop a fine.  Postal votes are an option for those who are going to be out of the country, out of area or in hospital. I noticed when I visited someone in hospital last year the opportunity was made available to patients to vote.  It's been that way ever since I recall and clearly works.

    At least we don't end up with a situation where students who see no reason to vote, the apathetic or lazy plus those who voted and saw their candidate fail, skip voting and find the energy or incentive to join mass protests when things aren't perceived to go their way.

    "We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."

  • GrumpyGuyGrumpyGuy Member
    edited February 2017
    Great Point Hans - Voting reason #5 should indeed say religious beliefs and/or lifestyle choices.  I've seen plenty of examples of people who were voting for Clinton because they are gay, or voting for Trump because they are racists.

    Personally, I'm a mix of non-voting-reasons #2, #4 and #5.  I protest democracy because I believe it doesn't work to my benefit, but instead to the benefit of bad people who desire my obedience, my money and my freedom.  #4 is almost the same for me - I am so tired of politics that it causes physical ache in my body.  #5 is a huge influence on me as well.  I have never felt that my life has been altered appreciably after changes in Prime Minister or MPs, except that things have gotten gradually more expensive, more illegal and more mired in exhausting bureaucracy. 

    If a candidate came out and said, "I'll roll back prices to 1995, undo the last 20 years of lawmaking and cut out the paperwork!" I'd consider voting for them, but since such individuals don't run (and aren't allowed to run) for political office, no opportunity will present itself.

    Matt:  Excellent points raised, all around.  I have never once in my life felt like I owe allegiance to Canada.  I'm sorry if it offends proud Canadians, but being born on a piece of land that falls within a particular border drawn on a map by some people I never met doesn't mean a thing to me.  In the same way most Canadians feel no loyalty to the Queen, I feel none to my country. 

    I also don't believe I am obligated to obey a bunch of man-made laws I had no say in establishing, nor do I believe I am obligated to obey other humans just because some other humans have decided to give them power.  It is easy enough to determine what is right and wrong without that "assistance."  The Ten Commandments alone are almost a sufficient legal guide for all mankind, and made completely so when enriched by the other commands contained throughout the scriptures.  That said, I agree that voting to give my permission to maintain the status quo is ridiculous.  It will do that regardless of our input.

    Rosie:  I checked into the mandatory voting in Australia and noticed the fine for a first-time "offense" is $20, going up to $50 the next time.  It didn't say if it remains $50 from then onward, so I'm assuming the government website was making its own assumptions that people would smarten up and vote after the second fine.  Personally, I wouldn't mind paying $50 every state election to avoid participating in a pointless political battle, especially since I'd be required each time to mail in a letter explaining why I refused (good opportunity to vent and/or get put on a most wanted list!).  That is, unless:

    The protest vote!  Does Australia allow voters to register a protest by spoiling the ballot, or in some other way, or are you forced to vote for a candidate or party?

    Anyway, interested in the opinions of MrP, Taz and Greg.  Speaking of, has anyone seen Greg?  Did he join Trump's Secret Service?

  • Matt_ADMIN_Matt_ADMIN_ Administrator
    Greg may have, since it seems he's disappeared
    "...Say, 'GOD is sufficient for me.' In Him the trusters shall trust." (Quran 39:38)
  • Personally, why other people vote or don't vote, isn't something I care about.  When I go to the polls, it's because I believe in the candidate for which I plan to vote.  I have in my personal files, letters of apology from two government agencies because my MP didn't hesitate to help when those agencies tried to bully me.  She has demonstrated on many occasions, that she actually does care about the people she's been chosen to represent.

    As for our provincial politicians, I don't believe we've had a decent one in decades and I have no interest in voting for "the lesser of two evils".

    There are two basic forms of government, democratic and dictatorial.  In it's simplest form, the democratic government has only two responsibilities.  Co-ordination of the national/regional community resources and the protection of the people.  Because the generations of voters have allowed government to become the huge, self devouring beast it has become, we now have to face the rewards of our blind trust.

    Unfortunately, all the talk and rhetoric nowadays means little.  Even if we somehow managed to rein in the government now, our great grandchildren will have to deal with the same issues we are.  Humans are herd animals and we will always (as a group) fall for charisma over substance.

    "How do you tell a communist?  Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin.  And how do you tell an anti-communist?  It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin."

    *Ronald Reagan*

  • Rosie_MOD_Rosie_MOD_ Moderator
    edited February 2017
    Farmer_Sean said
    The protest vote!  Does Australia allow voters to register a protest by spoiling the ballot, or in some other way, or are you forced to vote for a candidate or party?

    Sean I believe that there's quite a number of informal votes. Voting is complex because  both  independent candidates votes are cast under a preference system, which means if they don't win their votes go to a preferred major party.  Therefore the order each person wishes to place their chosen candidates means they need to be in a numbered order which works out for the major party you really want to win plus the parties you really don't want to win. This means putting the person who's policies you like least last. Confusing? Tricky when there's Shooting Parties and Fishing Parties. Don't think we have a Drinking Party yet but there is one for marijuana - The Australian Hemp Party.

    "We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."

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