WHY YOU VOTE THE WAY YOU DO!

There is a book titled, WHY YOU ACT THE WAY YOU DO.

Well, there is also a reason people vote the way they do.

—-

This is a write-up by a great mind, Rasheed Adegoke

SEGMENTING VOTERS

Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread wending its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge… Isaac Asimov

One can segment the voters in any election into two broad groups:the Rational and the Irrational.

The Rational voter

This is the one who gathers and considers as much information as possible about all candidates and evaluates them against a defined set of parameters/criteria that defines his/her choice of leadership candidate provided such criteria can be linked to the performance of the leader in office.

The Irrational voter

Is one who decouples politics from governance and leadership performance. He/she makes a choice on candidates to support based on anything but rational choice.

There are four classes of Irrational voters captured in the acronym FFFC (3FC):

Family, Friend, Fools and Crooks.

Family: These are voters who base their candidate choice on their direct connection (biological, ethnic or religious) with the candidate irrespective of whether or not they believe the candidate has the ability to perform well in office.

Friends: Closely linked to the family, these voters base their candidate choice on friendship/association (regional, social connection, party affiliation, gender or age-group) irrespective of what they think or know about candidates ability to perform in office.

Fools: These are voters that trade their votes for temporary benefits also known as stomach infrastructure. Also included in this group are those who just follow the crowd and say I will vote this candidate because I believe he/she would win anyway even though I don’t like him/her.

Crooks: These are voters that support a candidate because they expect to use his/her candidacy to make illicit gains at the expense of good governance. They usually include godfathers, political merchants, gangs and criminal syndicates that hope to leverage a candidate’s win to escape justice or gain access to public resources.

The unfortunate reality is that Rational voters are usually in the minority or where in majority usually represent the group with the lowest turnout at elections.

This may be because their connection with the election outcome is usually indirect – improvement in government policies and services, infrastructure, etc. Motivation is therefore not as high as it is for Irrational voters who see a direct benefit from the outcome of the election – even where such benefits are only symbolic (e.g. for most Family and Friends) or ephemeral (e.g. for Fools).

Furthermore, rational voters are also limited in the quality of the choices they make due to the scarcity of quality and authentic information. They usually need to make extra effort to sieve through the pool of fake news, propaganda and outright lies that are being generated and propagated by Irrational voters and the campaign machinery of candidates.

I see a good opportunity for elite action to create groups and credible platforms to fill the information gap to empower rational voters and convert more irrational voters to rationality.

One does not also need to wait until you can build a large action group. We can all focus on our circles of influence and try to make a difference at that level.

The bigger problem, as someone pointed out when we first discussed this, is that the Fools and Crooks control the political parties so the Rational voter is subject to select from their shortlist of candidates. I agree with this position and suggest that the real battle of rational choice is within the political parties. We therefore need more elite participation within the parties.

If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day. By all means stay home if you want, but don’t deceive yourself that you’re not voting.

In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote

— David Foster Wallace

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