Why People Vote
Posted on November 2, 2010People vote for a variety of reasons. They don’t vote for just one.
People don’t vote because they think that their vote doesn’t matter. How can one person make much of a difference, they ask themselves, ignoring the history that shows that one vote has made a difference thousands of times.
I live in the District of Columbia, so in all likelihood my vote doesn’t really matter. But I wrote in Adrian Fenty, just because, who knows, he might win in a write-in campaign.
People vote because they are mad. That has certainly been the case lately. Barack Obama won because people were mad at Republicans, and especially President Bush.
My, how the worm has turned! Today, people are voting because they are mad at President Obama. In fact, some polls show that the unpopular George W. Bush would beat the more unpopular Barack Obama in a face to face matchup.
Many people vote because they are inspired. That certainly was the case with John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and yes Barack Obama. But inspiration is one thing. Perspiration is another.
In long run, people are more impressed with hard work leading to results than they are with lofty words that don’t actually make things better.
Some people vote strategically. They vote because they want divided government or they vote for a candidate that they think will win. They might not agree with everything that a candidate says and they might not particularly like the candidate at all, but they are voting to achieve a certain result.
My guess is that these voters tend to be more moderate. There aren’t a lot of moderate candidates out there, so moderates have to hold their nose a lot when they go into a polling place.
Some people vote to protest. That explains the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. Neither Greens nor Libertarians win very much (with the big exception being Ron Paul and now his son Rand Paul), so when somebody pulls the lever for candidates from those parties, they usually aren’t voting for victory. They are voting to send a message.
When Ralph Nader runs for President, he is sending a message to the Democrats. Screw you and your corporate contributors. I like Ralph Nader and I hope he keeps running.
Some people vote because they find a candidate who is irresistibly attractive. It was said that Jack Kennedy won because women voters swooned when he talked. He had the gender gap working in his favor, big time. Sarah Palin has the gender gap working in her favor big time, too. Maybe it is for the same reason.
Some people vote because it is their constitutional duty to vote, and they take their constitutional duty very seriously. There isn’t that much required of an American citizen, especially since the draft went away. You have to sign up for Social Security and Medicare. You have to pay taxes. You have to serve on a jury every once in a while (provided that you aren’t a convict). You aren’t compelled to serve the country in any other way other than to show up to vote, and you aren’t even required to do that.
Voting is a patriotic duty, but it isn’t a requirement.
Early voting makes it a lot easier to vote, so really, there aren’t any excuses. I voted last week, for example.
I am not sure if my vote will make much of a difference, but I know it will be counted, so that makes all the difference to me.