Politics. Why Did it Have to be Politics?
Originally, I was going to talk about politicos North of the border and some profound stupidity, but instead my attention has been turned aside by Facebook, of all things. David Gorski (that's Orac at Respectful Insolence in the links off to the right there for any new folks) put up a link to a post on the New York Times site mocking the famous Undecided Voter. His position was that anyone who hasn't been able to decide at this point simply hasn't been paying attention.
A follower (hate that term! Sounds so zombiesque!) replied that he wasn't going to make a decision until the day of the election itself. My own response to that was surprise that after three years of being in power for the incumbent and two years of campaigning by the challenger (a horrible, stupid, and wasteful method of electioneering, but that's for later) he didn't have enough information to make a decision.
It's actually understandable why not, I suppose. But still, kind of shocking to see.
His response was straightforward: it's no one's business who he votes for other than the person who counts the ballots, and that person won't find out until he casts his vote. So there would be no actual advantage to declaring who his vote is for before then - in fact, the only people who would be happy with it would be:
A) other folks who had made up their minds so they can confirm their own bias;
Neither one did it please him to make happy. Again, a perfectly valid point (especially B). Who's business is it who he wishes to vote for? It's not like any one else deserves to know!
Which brings us to politics.
Elections are not like other opinions: had the decision been about a range of as-yet-unreleased ice cream flavours or favourite superhero or the name of a sports team. What is being decided is who gets to hold political power over every one in the country. New laws will be introduced; tax rates and possibly even collection will be changed; military might will be in different hands.
This isn't just true of federal elections - it's true of all elections. (Well, except maybe the "military might" thing - presumably your local mayor doesn't actually hold that much sway over international events.) It is true that people tend to be happier when they are surrounded with "their own kind" - in this case not so much racially and culturally, but philosophically. We are simply more comfortable when life is easier, and not being confronted (however benignly) with differing ideas makes our lives easier.
As the New Yorker cartoon put it, on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog: all people have to go on is your words, and those are only the ones you decide to put out there. Those words don't have to include anything but what you want other people to hear, and if you discuss politics, then you can't be rejected from whatever group because of your appearance or wealth or sex or anything else.
Not so real life. In real life, you have to live with a whole lot of other people, and those people may have different ideas on how to govern and be governed; what is acceptable behaviour and what isn't; who gets what benefits and who gets them taken away.
Which brings us back to politics.
Who gets to wield that power, who gets the right to make those decisions, comes down to the choice of a whole lot of individuals, the particular individual I was talking to included. And if no one knows who you support, and no one lets you know who they support, then neither you nor they have the opportunity to explain the reasoning behind that choice. And without that, you might not be able to save them from a rash decision supporting their candidate, or they may not have the chance to explain what you missed about yours.
To steal from a Canadian philosopher, even if you think the decision is between the lesser of two evils, if you don't vote, that means you're okay with people voting for the greater evil. Which makes you Pro-Evil.
Don't be Pro-Evil: talk to people about your vote. Because if you don't, you just might wish you did.