Do We Vote with Reason?

Voting is the linchpin of a working democracy. In its truest form, the voting process identifies and represents the thoughts, attitudes and belief systems of a society’s population, even while, and sadly, voters many times do not speak for a genuine majority. There would seem to be something fundamentally unsound about that paradigm, just as there is something fundamentally sound about the reasoning.

Are people motivated to vote prompted by rational reasoning or emotional commitment? Logically speaking, it would seem to go without saying – leave your emotions home when to go to the voting booth. Conceding that has most likely never occurred, casting an informed ballot based on fact, unbiased research and a ‘best for all’ mentality, is an emotional journey into wishful thinking fantasy.

In the voting booth, it doesn’t matter why you’re voting. It only matters who you’re voting for, what you’re voting for, or whether or not you agree with what you’re voting on.

The results, however, have power…the power to change governments and the lives of the governed. Ideally, thoughtful reasoning would be the protocol of choice for those who take the time to vote. But, as we’ve seen recently in some of the strongest democracies in the world, emotions are stubborn, hard to ignore, and increasingly factoring into voting mandates across the globe.

People who do not vote are, by definition, uninterested and uncaring, and some would say undeserving of a place at the discussion table. This conversation is not about them. It is about those who do exercise their right to vote and why.

Nobody said democracy was ever going to be easy. Be it three-hundred people in a room or three, politics are present, accounted for and open for discourse. Inevitably and with rare exception, the direction of a social, business, or regrettably, the religious gathering will veer toward politics in one fashion or another.

And just as inevitably because we are human beings, reason will be the first aspect of the dialogue to fall, replaced by agitated opinion validation, followed in due course by emotional commentary. None of which, is, by the way, meant to suggest anyone is interested in anyone else’s opinion. Emotions are seldom democratic.

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” – Winston Churchill

It has been said, “Every nation gets the government they deserve.” I’m not so sure about that. When the values of a few supersede the common sense of the many, something is terribly wrong. Not that its an easy debate with so many influential components to consider, apathy being at or near the top of the list.

In the most recent U.S. presidential election, voter turnout lagged behind most of the developed countries at 55.7%. At 68.5%, Canada’s turnout rose sharply in the 2015 federal election, though still behind many of the global democracies.

Short of a dramatic shift, the current trend in voter (dis)interest worldwide shows no sign of abating. In the World Bank’s 2017 World Development Report, the average global turnout rate has dropped more than 10% over the past 25 years. Coinciding incidentally, with the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of new electoral democracies.

It would be easy to blame specific agendas for election woes, but clearly, a vote for someone or something for some reason is still a vote. The ramifications of not doing so will potentially give us all reason to get emotional.

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