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March 10, 2017 / Congau

Careless Voting

One person, one vote – how unjust. One person is worth as much as any other, true, but why do we have to give the same attention to all of them? We may want to value everybody’s opinion, but everybody doesn’t have a strong opinion and some have no opinion at all. Why should we listen to those who have nothing to say?

In real life, (that part of life that is not subjected to the artificial rigor of politics, that is) people are likely to be consulted in matters relevant to themselves, but we don’t demand a statement from them if they are not interested.

Suppose three friends were to decide on a common activity. One of them has a strong desire to do one thing while the other two are drawn slightly in another direction, but don’t really care much. If a popular vote was held, the lukewarm preference of the two would win, but usually the stronger wish is more likely to be heard. Then one will be happy and the other two have hardly lost anything. It is fair to say that the general will of the group as a whole has then prevailed.

It would be wonderful if political elections were decided like that. The passionate would have a stronger voice than the indifferent and the will of the people would then perhaps have a real meaning.

Obviously any attempt at such a scheme would be utterly impractical. No system could possibly detect the amount of passion in each citizen and assign the weight of their votes accordingly. But that does not mean that we have to pretend that the one person one vote democracy is really just and genuinely reflects the will of the people. It’s an illusion which is reinforced when everybody is encouraged to vote whether they have an opinion or not.

If you don’t care, you shouldn’t make decisions for those who do.

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