When faced with an unfavorable outcome, it’s tempting to try and rig the system. Here’s why we shouldn’t.
It is easy to say you’re a proponent of democracy when the majority of the country shares your views. People you voted for are in power and, in general, put policies into practice that are in line with your beliefs. You nod approvingly when the budget is presented and are happy to pay your share of tax. Your country is run by like-minded people, and they’ve got your back.
But what if the tables were turned? If, for some reason, a significant number of your fellow countrymen and women were now voting for people with awful ideas for downright ridiculous policies? What if the wrong people could soon have all the power?
Although it’s a feeling many will be familiar with, it is an unjustified one. By definition, a democracy makes it impossible for the ‘wrong’ people to be in charge, since the only way to get there is by having the support of some form of majority. That’s the beauty of it.
In practice, when democracy isn’t getting us what we want, it suddenly doesn’t seem all that great. When you type ‘GOP stop Trump’ into question-and-answer website Quora, it comes back with an impressive amount of hits. Type it into Google News and you’re presented with a plethora of articles discussing the possibilities for the Republican Party to block Trump’s nomination.
Citizens and politicians alike are putting their heads together asking the question: “If Donald Trump wins the primaries, is there a way to stop him?”
Regardless of the answer, the question itself points to a certain amount of confidence, perhaps even arrogance, on the askers’ behalf. What they’re asking is how to ignore the fact that Trump enjoys more support than his fellow runners. How to ignore it if he wins. How to take him out of the game.
When we cannot comprehend what would move so many people to support a candidate we despise, we tend to come up with a surprisingly patronizing explanation: they must be less intelligent. We might not say it out loud, or even consciously think it, but it’s there. Surely, we think, if they knew what we know, their political choices would be different. Perhaps they don’t fully understand. Haven’t watched the debates. Don’t realise the overall impact.
This train of thought provides us with a comfortable position from which to then try and rig the system. The numbers may not lie about who has the most support, but since those supporters don’t really know what they’re doing, we can overrule them. It’s what’s best, for everyone.
Except, is it? People have different values, different priorities and different goals in life. Is it not possible that for a significant amount of Republicans, Donald Trump simply comes closest to representing theirs? And so if he wins the Republican nomination, it’s not because his supporters don’t understand what he stands for, it’s because they do. And they like it.
Losing is hard. Even more so when you’re not playing for marbles but to send someone to the Oval Office. When the outcome of the game will have a direct and significant impact on your life, there’s a need to win.
So you play. You campaign, you talk to friends, convince your neighbors. You put up signs, show up to rallies, and you vote. And maybe, it’s not enough. Maybe you don’t win this round, and come July, Donald Trump will be officially named the Republican nominee.
And you accept it.
What you don’t do, is rig the system. Instead of reaching for those Quora discussions and Google News articles, remind yourself that this is democracy at work, and he has been chosen. Granted, not by you. But by a large number of your fellow countrymen and women. And to think that their opinion matters any less than yours… that would be plain arrogance.
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more information
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General Election: Nov 3, 2020
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