Monday, August 8, 2016

"Protest Vote": The Narcissist's Reckoning

When I was a kid, my mother occasionally told me I was "the best little boy in the world", and that I could do anything I set my mind to. I completely realized she was full of crap. She herself plainly didn't believe any of that. My generation - the product of parents who raised children at arm's length, barely tolerant of our nonsense - proceeded to go too far the other way and made our kids the centers of our lives. Kids were kings. A generation was raised as Kardashian celebs, with all attention fixed adoringly on their every utterance and preference.

This, naturally, launched an era of screaming, imperious kids terrorizing public places - like restaurants - with parental impunity. Anyone complaining - e.g. on Chowhound - about such practices was savaged with thermonuclear heat by parents indignantly certain that every childish impulse is like pure gold. A generation of entitled narcissists was being raised, and one day I knew there'd be a reckoning. Well, here it is.

A short article has been making the social media rounds, titled "There’s No Such Thing As A Protest Vote". It patiently explains that democracy requires lining up and being tallied, so your "protest vote" is not special. The subtext is, of course, that you are not special. Your predilections and compulsions are flaccid, useless little puffs of nothingness. You are not a celebrity. You are small.

People nowadays actually need to be told this. And the article is considered a controversial and insightful piece of writing!

An excerpt:
" doesn’t matter what message you think you are sending, because no one will receive it. No one is listening. The system is set up so that every choice other than ‘R’ or ‘D’ boils down to “I defer to the judgement of my fellow citizens.” It’s easy to argue that our system shouldn’t work like that. It’s impossible to argue it doesn’t work like that.

This is frustrating, of course, but that’s how our Presidential elections are set up. Democracies alternate the coalition in power, but different systems do so in different ways. In multi-party systems, voters get the satisfaction of voting for smaller, ideologically purer factions — environmental parties, anti-immigrant parties, and so on. The impure compromises come when those factions are forced to form coalitions large enough to govern. The inevitable tradeoffs are part of the governing process, not the electoral process.

In America, by contrast, the coalitions are the parties. Our system also produces alternation of power, and requires compromises among competing interests, but those compromises happen within long-standing caucuses; issues come and go, but the two parties remain. This forces the citizens themselves to get involved in the disappointing tradeoffs, rather than learning about them after the fact. No one gets what they want in a democracy; two-party systems simply rub voters’ noses in that fact...

...Throwing away your vote on a message no one will hear, and which will change no outcome, is sometimes presented as ‘voting your conscience’, but that’s got it exactly backwards; your conscience is what keeps you from doing things that feel good to you but hurt other people. Citizens who vote for third-party candidates, write-in candidates, or nobody aren’t voting their conscience, they are voting their ego, unable to accept that a system they find personally disheartening actually applies to them.

No comments:

Blog Archive