Monday, July 28, 2008

My Dear Aunt Sallie

When people hear my arguments, such as they are, about how our individual votes don't matter, many of them probably think I am advocating something similar to the following view, taken from a thread on the Volock Conspiracy blog:

Elections are dog and pony shows to make the masses feel appreciated. That the intelligensia still seems to care makes me wonder how they became the intelligensia? Obama may win. McCain may win. Life in the USA is going to look indistinguishable under either administration. Idiot bureaucrats making decisions they don't understand. Increasing taxes, regulation, destructive wars, and a devaluing dollar. The process has continued unabated since the 30s.

Do yourselves a favor and a) don't vote and b) don't waste precious time on what is nothing more than a soap opera.
Such is not my view at all. My argument is not disdain for the "masses." It is disdain for the proposition that any individual makes his or her voice "heard" by casting a ballot. I admit that I have a lot of qualms about what I call "majoritarianism," or, by my definition, the belief that the majority is right simply because it is a majority. I also believe, albeit with little evidence, that when people become part of large crowds, they often lose the ability to think for themselves (I do not except myself from this claim). But I do not disdain the "masses" as such.

Moreover, I make no claim that it doesn't matter at all whether the winner of November's race is Mr. McCain or Mr. Obama. My argument is that whoever wins will be institutionally constrained and will not effect nearly as much change as his supporters hope. (I hold the same to be true if, by some accident, Ralph Nader or Bob Barr actually won the presidency.)

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