A question for the ages: How many people truly understand the platform of the candidate they’re voting for?
Quick answer: Precious few, unfortunately.
Long answer: Everyone THINKS they’re independently-minded, but when you get to know them better you can see they’re only kidding themselves. It pretty much breaks down like this…
- Most people vote the party line, and their chosen party is their family’s chosen party. What they grew up with, what they were taught, basically. This is lessening a bit in recent times, but even people who do break away still vote the party line of their new chosen party.
- The next group are people who are still party devotees, but have latched onto a specific candidate. They probably know very well one of that candidate’s positions, but not much else beyond that. They will follow this candidate around anywhere they go like a devoted little puppy who has been rescued… the dishonest leading the blind.
- Then there’s the “litmus test” voter, the person who will follow any candidate who shares their #1 pet issue. They know their issue inside and out, backward and forward… which fine, everyone has priorities to some degree… but they know little past that. You could say they’re a subcategory of the second group.
The people in these first three groups are very susceptible to bias confirmation. The people in the first two groups pro-actively, albeit subconsciously, seek it out.
- Then there’s the middle-of-the-road voter, who is still primarily a party devotee, but will slide to the other side for a particular candidate or issue. If our political environment continues to fracture these people are going to become more important to the parties, so the parties and the party devotees may want to re-think alienating them.
- Then there’s another subcategory of the second group, the devoted third-party voter. Only real difference is these people have no chance of winning, ever. Third parties have influenced policies over the years, though, so they’re not irrelevant. Once a third-party issue gains popularity one or both of the two major parties adopts it in some form, co-ops it basically, and the third-party… along with the third-party voter… sinks back into obscurity again.
- Then there’s the truly independent voter, the independent thinker. These people are all over the map and couldn’t care less about parties. This person might have favorite candidates, but said candidate had to earn their respect over time through consistency and integrity. This person drives parties crazy because they can’t be predicted, as they can’t be controlled or manipulated. These people tend to be more fully-rounded as far as the issues go, they’re not looking for anything, they’re just processing and analyzing.
- Then there’s the wholly uninformed voter, the person who votes because they were guilt-tripped into it by a manipulative friend or a “get out the vote” campaign, but really they have no idea what they’re doing and as such are doing more harm than good. These people should not be voting at all, and contrary to common opinion there’s no shame in not voting. It just means you’re fine with other people making decisions for you.
I’m not sure which is worse, the uninformed voter or the biased voter. Both are detrimental to our society in their own way, but as I think about it in a more deeper sense, I think I’d have to say the biased voter is more damaging. They know enough to where they should know better.