Tomorrow is Election Day. My prediction is that Unhappiness increases, regardless who wins whatever offices.
You must understand from Part I the difference between largely shared goals, situations in which elections can work and produce happiness, and largely unshared goals, situations in which elections will only produce discord and unhappiness.
Variety Is The Spiciness Of Elections
In many large-scale elections, a variety of goals is the rule. The problem is people can’t always remember all of them. Worse, it is usually considered good policy of the rival parties to focus the electorate only on the unshared goals. This moves things in the direction of the second scenario in which there are no shared goals, but where it only seems as if there are no shared goals. Uncertainty in who is the best man is again irrelevant, because the goals between sides are made to seem entirely different.
As groups polarize over goals, a polarization which must come sooner or later the more the electorate resembles a pure democracy, then unless one side can convince the other of the sanity and righteousness of their goals, a split, possibly violent, is bound to occur. This splitting is not a logical necessity, so we are not in the place to label that split a fallacy, but it is, given history, a sensible prediction.
When We Can All Get Along
Shared goals, or mostly shared goals, and the maintenance and communication of as many shared goals as possible, is why voting works when it works, inside large or small groups. Voting can and does work and does not necessarily lead to splits.
Voting for a new leader in voluntary professional societies provides a good example. These positions are more or less honorary, and are in large part public relations-oriented. The majority of members are glad they don’t have to serve, plus all members have the shared goal of making the organization look good, thus enhancing their own reputations.
Elections rarely lead to trouble. When they do, it is because the directions the organization should take, according to its members, have lately diverged. This can happen when fields become more specialized, or when some members embrace a new theory or practice that leaves the traditional members cold. You won’t hear of marches or “cry-ins” or “days of rage” when a clique fails to have their man elected leader of a chemical society. But you might see the society cleaving into the Peoples Chemical Society and Chemicals for People Society.
The Fallacy Revealed
This, finally, is where the fallacy lies. That voting “works.” This is not an unconditional promise. Voting works, yes, but only in the those situations when the culture is largely shared. When there are sharp divisions, voting must and will fail some people. It is insulting and demeaning to hear at the time of election loss how voting worked. It did not. Call this the Voting Works Fallacy.
In major elections there are always a pool of “undecideds”, people whose attention all sides court. Though there is a feigned love for these folks when wooing them, there is also disdain toward them because they have not chosen a side. Not a side about the level of uncertainty of which candidate will do a better job, but of the side of the set of goals.
It is forgotten these people are those folks who still believe they are in a mono-culture. They don’t hold the “extreme” goals the other two sides do, but instead share the majority of “non-controversial” goals both sides actually hold but fail to consider. For undecideds, the election is more about uncertainty in reaching the shared goals, who is the best man, and not in aiming for one set of goals over another. This suggests it would be well to entice these people by appealing to these shared goals and boasting of a candidate’s greater chance (reducing uncertainty) in reaching these shared goals. That doesn’t happen much. Instead, the candidates and their parties more usually try to convince the undecideds to embrace their set of goals. This is effective to some degree, but guarantees greater disharmony after the election.
Democracy Is Discord
Every move toward greater democracy thus will—but not necessarily must: this is a contingent observation—increase discord. Widening the electorate fails to cause an increase in discord only when the new voters added largely share the same goals as the current voters. When they do not, it increases discord.
Consider that is was once much more likely for people within States to have a shared cultures than with the country as a whole, if only because States are comprised of smaller groups. So that when the States’ mandate to elect Senators by legislatures was removed to the populace, elections become more tumultuous. As expected.
Similarly, it cannot be that 16-year-olds will share the same goals as, say, 60-year-olds. Lowering the voting age must increase the possibilities for factions, and so will increase turmoil. Likewise, increasing immigration (by whatever means) of people who do not share the same goals as current residents (e.g. the desire for Sharia versus Christian common law) must necessarily cause difficulties and fractures. Diversity is our weakness, as far as voting is concerned.
It’s worth noting, as most scholars have, that once this bifurcation process gets started in a democracy, it always tends to the same violent end, unless something exterior or external occurs which re-unites the people.
There’s more to the Chapter, but I think you have the idea by now. Happy Election Day!
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