My first election? Fuck it, man.

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TheGrammarBolshevik
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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Sep 06, 2011 4:34 pm UTC

gorcee wrote:At that point, it becomes less about principle, and more about pragmatics.

gorcee wrote:And at that moment, the grand theories about government spending and what is right and wrong in the minds of lofty idealists … become irrelevant

In the name of pragmatics and rejecting moral idealism, you're saying that I should vote when it's extremely unlikely to have any effect so that I can make a statement that I'm genuinely concerned with my future? I don't follow your logic.

And, at any rate, my argument has never been one of grand ideals. It is simply that voting is obscenely unlikely to accomplish, for any given actor, what it's supposed to (or what I would suppose it to do in my own case, given that I don't care about warm feelings and lending my voice and so on). Now, I'm quite willing to accept pragmatic or idealistic arguments if they're sound. But "Well you'll understand when you're older *head pat*" is not such an argument.

gorcee wrote:You affirm your ability to exhibit some control in a world that is by and large out of your control.

Then I'd assert falsehood, insofar as I wouldn't have that ability by voting.

Now, I can control my world in many other ways — by educating myself, finding jobs, joining organizations that I know can actually achieve their goals. And I do those things, in large part because I don't accept your premise that the world is by and large out of my control (or, at least, that I don't usually have the opportunity to make a difference). But then it's hard to talk down to 19-year-olds about how we'll realize the importance of volunteerism when we're older, since we're the ones who are stereotyped as holding that ideal.

Cloud Walker wrote:To withhold your vote makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy: it won't actually make a difference simply because you think it won't make a difference.

Only in the case where the election is tied or won by one vote. Otherwise, my vote would have failed to make a difference whether or not I had voted.

gorcee wrote:But willingly not spending 10 whole minutes out of your day, once a year, to do something that matters to someone else, that's just kind of pitiful.

What makes you think I wouldn't do such a thing?

Yakk wrote:Does someone who considers that (A) everyone not voting would be horrible and (B) my voting isn't worth my time also litter, leave gum under seats, and generally act like a "baby" sociopath?

No, of course not. Those things actually have harmful effects; whether or not they're horrible, someone is quite likely to suffer on a small scale due to my individual action.

I would, as I think would most, very much dislike living in a world where nobody had ever bothered to clean up previous litter. Do people who perceive a duty to vote also perceive a duty to adopt a highway?

(I do think there's something in the sort of Kantian gesture that you make here, and I hope to reconsider it when I'm back from lunch and class. I do note that this is quite different from the arguments that have gone before.)

Yakk wrote:(admittedly anti-social)

Who's admitting this, now?

Zamfir wrote:Instead of a lottery, it's more like one-in-a-million odds to return a million wallets at one go, or taking one step on along road towards returning a million wallets.

On the first point, I'd be surprised to find odds that good on the election lottery. On the second, it makes little difference whether you take that step if somebody else was going to go well past the destination anyway.

gorcee wrote:It's like being in a large choir. Why sing?

Funny you should pick on an analogy where I actually have some experience. I sing because it's fun. If I only viewed singing as a sort of public service for my audience, I doubt it's the kind of service that would interest me.

gorcee wrote:And, for what it's all worth, most elections aren't settled by millions of votes, or even tens of thousands. Local elections are often settled by a gross total of a few hundred to a few thousand votes.

Yes, and I'd be quite happy to participate in a small local election. In some sense, I already do, since I've taken leadership roles in student organizations that have actually achieved changes in university policy. I'm happy to dedicate my time, and much more than ten minutes of it, to helping people when I can actually do that. In a national election, however (the subject of this thread, recall), I can't.
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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby setzer777 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 4:37 pm UTC

I'm not self-righteous or proud about my non-voting. I wouldn't even be talking about it if people didn't give me (either personally or as part of the group of non-voters) so much shit about it.

I don't see it as comparable to littering. When I litter, there is an immediate, definite small harm done at a specific location (even setting accumulation aside there is now one field that is uglier). I'd say a better metaphor for your argument would be something like not using energy-saving lightbulbs, or not driving a fuel-efficient car (though of course not a perfect metaphor, since both of those would immediately cost me for not having). Investment is also a bad metaphor I think, because for the most part, adding more investors to a company is always a good thing for the returns. In voting there is only one very meaningful outcome: one of the sides wins. As a non-voter, I'm part of a group that includes people who "would have" voted for the same side as me, and the opposite side. So you can't tell the whole group that they're doing harm by not voting, and to tell me that assumes that my vote would do more good than harm, which obviously isn't true of everyone, if you think voting is so important.

Finally, I feel no sense of righteousness about non-voting, I don't think that I'm "above it all" or something. Reasons A-C can be very good reasons for people to do things. Hell, A and C are the reason I choose to be vegetarian, even though I know it makes no real impact. But I don't feel those reasons for every such activity, and voting is one of them that I don't feel such motivation for. Because there isn't a significant linear increase in benefit from more people voting (as opposed to giving money to a cause, or not littering), I feel okay leaving the election choices to those who are actually enthusiastic about it.

Edit:
Oh, almost forgot:
gorcee wrote:Then all of that is rather sad and selfish. Not caring about how something affects you is fine. But willingly not spending 10 whole minutes out of your day, once a year, to do something that matters to someone else, that's just kind of pitiful. Your points aren't invalid, so there's no sense in arguing them. They're just pathetic.
Emphasis mine.

So you admit that I make valid points but then personally insult me? Well fuck you too.
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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby Shivahn » Tue Sep 06, 2011 4:55 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:I'd say a better metaphor for your argument would be something like not using energy-saving lightbulbs, or not driving a fuel-efficient car (though of course not a perfect metaphor, since both of those would immediately cost me for not having).

That's also a poor metaphor. Two-party elections have binary results; using more energy/polluting more has incremental effects.

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby setzer777 » Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:13 pm UTC

Shivahn wrote:
setzer777 wrote:I'd say a better metaphor for your argument would be something like not using energy-saving lightbulbs, or not driving a fuel-efficient car (though of course not a perfect metaphor, since both of those would immediately cost me for not having).

That's also a poor metaphor. Two-party elections have binary results; using more energy/polluting more has incremental effects.


Good point. Also, more pollution is almost universally considered bad (though people disagree on how bad), whereas each possible election result is considered good by a ton if people and bad by a ton of people.
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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby gorcee » Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:20 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
gorcee wrote:You've got some weird grammar going on. I can't tell if you're pro-not voting or anti-not voting.
Really? I noticed no weird grammar, and an abundance of words like "ashamed" and "self-righteous" and "sociopath", which make Yakk's meaning pretty easy to comprehend.


In the two-part sentence, remove the first part and you get:

Yakk wrote:Does someone who considers that my voting isn't worth my time also litter, leave gum under seats, and generally act like a "baby" sociopath?


Reading it again, I kind of get it. I initially read "that my voting isn't worth my time" as referring to Yakk, not to the hypothetical someone. So maybe there should have been some quotation marks or italics to indicate internal dialogue, but it makes some better sense now.

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby gorcee » Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:31 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
gorcee wrote:At that point, it becomes less about principle, and more about pragmatics.

gorcee wrote:And at that moment, the grand theories about government spending and what is right and wrong in the minds of lofty idealists … become irrelevant

In the name of pragmatics and rejecting moral idealism, you're saying that I should vote when it's extremely unlikely to have any effect so that I can make a statement that I'm genuinely concerned with my future? I don't follow your logic.


Your vote has a quantifiable contribution, that much can be proven.

But my point is that your vote has more of an impact than just the numerical value of your tally. Voting shows solidarity with the rest of the people who also vote. It affirms your role and activism within a community.

Voting is like giving flowers to your girlfriend. Flowers have almost no pragmatic value. In fact, they might even have negative pragmatic value, because you have to do work to care for them, and find a place to put them, and then they die anyways, and then you have to throw them out, etc.

But flowers are a nice gift, because it makes her feel special, and it is a gesture that she matters to you, even though it is of dubious practical and measurable value.

Voting shows the community at large, many of whom are more directly affected by decisions of national relevance than you are, that you care about the process, and that their well-being is a concern to you (even if it does not necessarily affect you). Even if your vote does not have a large quantifiable impact, it affects the community at large, which over time, may (or may not) have a larger overall impact.

And voting doesn't have to be in exclusion of other activities. But the argument that you shouldn't vote because it doesn't have a measurable impact is about the same as saying you shouldn't buy your girlfriend flowers because it's annoying to throw them out a week later.

And, for the record: indeed, fuck the presidential election, because there are too many fuzzy layers of abstraction. I just do it because it's fun. But other elections, state, local, senatorial, etc., those can and do matter, a lot.

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:34 pm UTC

gorcee wrote:In the two-part sentence, remove the first part and you get:

Yakk wrote:Does someone who considers that my voting isn't worth my time also litter, leave gum under seats, and generally act like a "baby" sociopath?
Reading it again, I kind of get it. I initially read "that my voting isn't worth my time" as referring to Yakk, not to the hypothetical someone. So maybe there should have been some quotation marks or italics to indicate internal dialogue, but it makes some better sense now.
That sentence is perfectly grammatically if not entirely clear upon first reading.

But my earlier surprise (and Yakk's, I think), was that the entire rest of the post apparently failed to make things any clearer about the position he was espousing.

gorcee wrote:Voting shows solidarity with the rest of the people who also vote.
I think TGB's confusion was how you reconcile this rather idealistic stance with your claim that voting should be pragmatic and not morally idealistic.
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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby Jacque » Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:40 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
Cloud Walker wrote:To withhold your vote makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy: it won't actually make a difference simply because you think it won't make a difference.

Only in the case where the election is tied or won by one vote. Otherwise, my vote would have failed to make a difference whether or not I had voted.

But, your one vote does make a difference*. A difference of one vote, the same as everyone else's one vote, each carrying the same weight and each equally important. It may not be that one specific vote that wins it (impossible to say), but it does make a difference to the grand total of votes tallied for that particular individual (the important part). The measurable bit of difference could be increasing the margin between my candidate and another to ensure victory, or "canceling out" the vote of a person voting the other direction.

Voting is making a difference, a small difference, but difference nonetheless. Not voting is decidedly not making any difference.

*A quantity by which amounts differ; the remainder left after subtraction of one value from another.

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby gorcee » Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:47 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
gorcee wrote:Voting shows solidarity with the rest of the people who also vote.
I think TGB's confusion was how you reconcile this rather idealistic stance with your claim that voting should be pragmatic and not morally idealistic.


Because emotional factors, though difficult-to-impossible to quantify, have measurable and long-lasting effects.

But anyhow, here's another interesting experiment.

For the 2010 US Senate election in Washington state, if you voted for the winning representative, your vote counted for 1/670284 of the victory, or about .00048% of the win.

These elections happen every 6 years. If it takes 15 minutes of your day to vote (some take longer, some take shorter, whatever), then voting takes up about .00015% of your time over those six years.

So, all things considered, your actual effort spent voting and the percentage of the say you have in a potential victory are probably pretty close (to within an order of magnitude or so).

All things considered, that's not a terrible payoff. It's not quite as good as, I don't know, the payoff you get for going down to the pub and drinking a beer, but it's certainly more pleasant than the time spent waiting in the dentist's office.

If you want to argue for not voting based on quantifiable means, there doesn't seem to be a lot of reason not to vote.

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:00 pm UTC

gorcee wrote:And, for the record: indeed, fuck the presidential election, because there are too many fuzzy layers of abstraction. I just do it because it's fun.

Your "gesture of solidarity with your neighbors" argument works the same way for the presidential election, though. We're really both quite alike in that we both like to do nice things for the people around us, but we both want to pick which nice things we'll do without being told that we only picked those things because we're dumb teenagers.

Jacque, do you take me to be unaware of addition? Of course I know that my vote would increase somebody's vote tally. Were that enough motivation for me to vote, this discussion wouldn't be happening. The difference that I would care about making is and always has been the difference in the outcome of the election, in the specific sense of the identity of the victor. I kind of doubt that you didn't already realize this.

gorcee wrote:So, all things considered, your actual effort spent voting and the percentage of the say you have in a potential victory are probably pretty close (to within an order of magnitude or so).

There are two problems here. The first is the one that Vaniver pointed out on page one: your percentage share in a potential victory is the probability that your vote will effect that outcome, not just one divided by the margin of victory. The second is your weird assumption that the percentage of "say" you have in an election is 1:1 commensurable with the percentage of time that you spend in voting per election period. If there were only three voters, would you be willing to make a two-year trip to the polling booth?
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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby Jacque » Tue Sep 06, 2011 8:41 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Jacque, do you take me to be unaware of addition? Of course I know that my vote would increase somebody's vote tally. Were that enough motivation for me to vote, this discussion wouldn't be happening. The difference that I would care about making is and always has been the difference in the outcome of the election, in the specific sense of the identity of the victor. I kind of doubt that you didn't already realize this.

Of course it would be stupid of me to suggest that, I was simply pointing out that by voting, you increase the tally for your candidate and thus help ensure (or you hope) they have more votes than the other guy, thus, making a "difference;" possibly helping to make a big difference by making a what little difference you can.

In elections and voting, you have no idea who has more votes than the other guy when you place yours. It's easy in hindsight to say "oh he won/lost by a landslide, my vote didn't really matter" but there is no hindsight when you vote, and nobody has precise foresight to know which candidate will win* or by how much.

*Of course analysts will tell you what the "mood of the country is" and polls will tell you informally which way people are leaning, but from what we've experienced in the last few elections, things can get pretty darn close.

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby Zamfir » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:03 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Were that enough motivation for me to vote, this discussion wouldn't be happening. The difference that I would care about making is and always has been the difference in the outcome of the election, in the specific sense of the identity of the victor.

Well, for starters the identity of the victor is not the only part that matters. Elections are repeated exercises, and that gives margins of victory an important power as signal about hte outcomes in future elections. A political party that is elected by a wide margin has more freedom to enact their agenda, since they can risk alienating some of their electorate. And when an opposition party loses by a wide margin, they are likely to move their policy stance towards their opponents. Usually by replacing their leadership by more 'electable' candidates.

Such effects change over the time the range of policies and candidates that are on the table in elections, and this is in the long run far more important than the winner of an individual election.

But we can even look at the static, lumped case of a single election between already determined candidates. Your a priori influence (or odds of having influence) here is small but not negligably small given the enormous stakes. As you can easily observe from the fact that parties spend non-zero effort to convince individual voters.

First the stakes: I hope you agree that differences between election outcomes are significant in typical observed elections. Candidates with a shot at winning do not differ widely in the policies they enact, but there are clear differences that affect most people. Lets write the stakes as M*F, where M is the number of people affected. So F is defined as a sort of "average effect" of an election on a single person's life. And I would claim that F is usually noticably large, far larger than the effort of voting.

For the lumped case, we could model an election simply as needing X out of N votes to win, while losing means getting X-1 or less. That's the extreme lumped case. If there is room for manouevring and cow-trading at close results, the process becomes more continuous and less winner-takes-all. The more continuous it is, the more directly a single vote translates to "a little bit more bargaining power for people I support"

This lumped case without repeat is the edge case, where a single vote only matters if the outcome is exactly X, and not at all in any other outcome. But if the outcome is indeed X , then every single vote for the winner mattered. Since the disappearance of any vote flips the whole outcome. So in this lumped, unrepeated case, the importance of your vote can be described as the a priori odds of an exact X outcome, multiplied by the stakes involved.

Those odds depend on lots of factors, but we can safely say that they are of the order of magnitude of 1/N, where N is the size of the electorate. In practice, you'd expect a "most likely" peak of outcomes with a lot more than 1/N a priori probability, surrounded by a region of diminishing probability until extreme outcomes like 0 or Y votes for one candidate have a probability far below 1/N. In most cases, X will be not too far from the peak, since major parties modify their policies and candidates to stay somewhat electable.

So for this purely discrete, unrepeated, winner-takes-all model, its not unreasonable to put the "expected effect"of a vote at the order of 1/N*stakes, where we wrote the stakes as M*F. SInce M is of the same order as N in a democracy, the expected effect of a vote is as zeroth-order approximation around F, the effect of the election on a singel person's life. But of course distributed over all people, so the expected effect of your vote on your own life is only of the order F/M. So voting (in this artificial scenario) matters if you care about the effects on everyone, but not if you only care about the effects on you and people near you.
Last edited by Zamfir on Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:17 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby gorcee » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:14 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
gorcee wrote:And, for the record: indeed, fuck the presidential election, because there are too many fuzzy layers of abstraction. I just do it because it's fun.

Your "gesture of solidarity with your neighbors" argument works the same way for the presidential election, though. We're really both quite alike in that we both like to do nice things for the people around us, but we both want to pick which nice things we'll do without being told that we only picked those things because we're dumb teenagers.


Except that it doesn't, because we know that our vote for the presidential election doesn't count... or at least it varies state by state, because of the electoral college, which can vote against the majority, or gets districted in funny ways, or whatnot.

To be clear, I'm talking about actively refusing to vote. I'm not talking about not voting because you forgot, or because really, none of the issues affect you (maybe you're moving in the next 8 months, or it's the Board of Ed. elections and you don't have kids, etc.) or none of the candidates seem to be willing to do anything to make the world better (hmm, Stalin or Hitler... how about neither!).

The mentality of "no, I won't vote because I don't have an effect on the outcome" is a selfish, selfish attitude. I just picture a five year old crossing his arms and stomping his feet. "NO! I WON'T DO IT BECAUSE I CAN'T TAKE CREDIT FOR IT! *STOMP STOMP POUT*" It's like refusing to play in the soccer tournament because they won't have a plaque with your name on it.

If you want to be treated like an adult, act like one. That's not to say, by the way, that every adult automatically acts like an adult just because their next age milestone is the day their social security kicks in. Plenty of adults share those opinions/actions on voting. But most of them also act like children in other aspects of their lives (which is, in a way, something Yakk was kind of hinting at with the gum-under-the-table thing).

Refusing to vote because YOU won't be the one responsible for the outcome is just selfish, entitled, and whiny. In short; childish. The election isn't about you, or the impact you have on it. It's about the community you live in, and everyone else as well.

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby gorcee » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:21 pm UTC

Jacque wrote:In elections and voting, you have no idea who has more votes than the other guy when you place yours. It's easy in hindsight to say "oh he won/lost by a landslide, my vote didn't really matter" but there is no hindsight when you vote, and nobody has precise foresight to know which candidate will win* or by how much.


Just to bring up a point here, some states bar exit polling for just this reason (others don't, and so if you vote late in the day, you'll already have an idea of how the election might turn out).

I will bring up one other point, too, regarding voting for the presidential election, or any election, really.

After the election, lots of statistics are computed and whatnot. When the next candidates are picked, the parties use these statistics to help determine who to support. Your candidate, or your candidates policies, may change based on the climate of the district. A district in which the victor won by a landslide probably won't pay as much attention to issues that are important to the losing party.

So, even though your vote doesn't might not decide winner or loser, it definitely gets counted. And those numbers definitely become part of the policy-making process. So yeah, even a "cancelled" vote matters.

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby Zamfir » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:24 pm UTC

gorcee wrote:If you want to be treated like an adult, act like one.

There are enough adults who reason the same way. I think they are wrong, but I do not think age has that much to with it. Also, it is impolite to disqualify people's opinion based on their age alone. Unless they're really little kids, or when personal life experience is obviously needed to understand the issue. Is that anywhere near the case here?

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby gorcee » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:33 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
gorcee wrote:If you want to be treated like an adult, act like one.

There are enough adults who reason the same way. I think they are wrong, but I do not think age has that much to with it. Also, it is impolite to disqualify people's opinion based on their age alone. Unless they're really little kids, or when personal life experience is obviously needed to understand the issue. Is that anywhere near the case here?


Right, and I qualified that. I probably sounded a little harsher than I meant to; sorry.

My point is that refusing to vote because you're unsatisfied with your role is a childish act like refusing to swallow your broccoli. And I was trying to reconcile this clarification with the post that I made last night, regarding TGB's youthful naivety and (expected) lack of experience and first-hand knowledge of the direct and immediate impact of public policy.

I didn't mean it to sound like "STOP HARASSING YOUR SISTER OR IM TURNING THIS CAR AROUND".

EDIT: And to be frank, 19 isn't full legal adult age. You can't drink. You're legally considered a child for several medical purposes (the NIH declares anyone under 21 a child, for instance). You're legally allowed to remain on your parent's health insurance, etc. While everyone's case is different (maybe their parents don't have health insurance), the simple fact is that until you're making your own bones, you can't really appreciate the role of government in your life, because most of the ways that government affects a person haven't really begun to affect that person yet. I've never broken my arm, and while I can appreciate the idea of the pain enough to not want to break my arm, I really can't sympathize with people who have. So my theories and opinions become incredibly naive.

The difference here is that breaking your arm isn't an inevitable fact of life, whereas government intervention (for better or worse) is unavoidable for pretty much everyone.
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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:41 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Those odds depend on lots of factors, but we can safely say that they are of the order of magnitude of 1/N, where N is the size of the electorate.
It's actually probably quite a bit higher than this, at least for large N. For example, if individual voters have a 50/50 shot of voting either way, then the likelihood of N voters tying is proportional to 1/sqrt(N), or 1000 times greater than your stated odds for an electorate of a million people. (Granted, it does fall off quite sharply when the rest of the voters aren't close to even like this.)

And in any case, I think your more important point is that which individual wins an election is *far* from the only consequence of that election.
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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:17 am UTC

Jacque wrote:In elections and voting, you have no idea who has more votes than the other guy when you place yours.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fivethirty ... n_outcomes

Zamfir wrote:Well, for starters the identity of the victor is not the only part that matters. Elections are repeated exercises, and that gives margins of victory an important power as signal about hte outcomes in future elections. A political party that is elected by a wide margin has more freedom to enact their agenda, since they can risk alienating some of their electorate. And when an opposition party loses by a wide margin, they are likely to move their policy stance towards their opponents. Usually by replacing their leadership by more 'electable' candidates.

They make these decisions at the resolution of single votes out of hundreds of millions? I am, to say the least, skeptical.

gorcee wrote:Except that it doesn't, because we know that our vote for the presidential election doesn't count... or at least it varies state by state, because of the electoral college, which can vote against the majority, or gets districted in funny ways, or whatnot.

All but two states award all of their electoral voters to the majority winner, and faithless electors are very uncommon: in the last five elections, there have been two. There's simply no way to argue that the electoral college is not substantially influenced by the outcomes of the state elections.

gorcee wrote:regarding TGB's youthful naivety

If that's what you want to regard, then start a fucking "TGB's youthful naivety" thread. Jesus.
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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby Vaniver » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:32 am UTC

gorcee wrote:By voting, you don't simply affirm allegiance to a political party or candidate. You affirm your ability to exhibit some control in a world that is by and large out of your control.
And so when the candidates you vote for lose- and worse than that, you live in a district where they simply could not win, barring a partisan epidemic- will pinning your hopes to the vote make you happier or less happy?

Yakk wrote:Does someone who considers that (A) everyone not voting would be horrible and (B) my voting isn't worth my time also litter, leave gum under seats, and generally act like a "baby" sociopath?
Is there reason to expect that people would suddenly stop voting? It seems more likely the argument would gradually gain traction, and voter turnout would decrease until it became worthwhile for people to vote- and so you would get oscillations around an equilibrium. The equilibrium we're at now is irrationally high, thanks to the belief that marginal voting carries a positive externality, which I don't know a solid justification for.

gorcee wrote:Voting is like giving flowers to your girlfriend. Flowers have almost no pragmatic value. In fact, they might even have negative pragmatic value, because you have to do work to care for them, and find a place to put them, and then they die anyways, and then you have to throw them out, etc.

But flowers are a nice gift, because it makes her feel special, and it is a gesture that she matters to you, even though it is of dubious practical and measurable value.
You misunderstand flowers or pragmatism. If something makes your SO feel special, how is it not pragmatic to provide it?

Zamfir wrote:A political party that is elected by a wide margin has more freedom to enact their agenda, since they can risk alienating some of their electorate.
If you think both political parties are bad, wouldn't it make sense to not vote in the hopes that lowers the margin of victory among the winning party, and thus they behave more cautiously? (Alternatively, one could just vote against local polls, but the benefit of possibly making the victors less cautious is a lot smaller than the benefit associated which switching winners.)

gorcee wrote:The mentality of "no, I won't vote because I don't have an effect on the outcome" is a selfish, selfish attitude.
Selfishness has to do with how important you think other people are. It's an entirely distinct question from what methods you choose to pursue your goals. If someone spends 30 minutes picking up litter rather than voting, have they made society worse off or better off?

gorcee wrote:My point is that refusing to vote because you're unsatisfied with your role is a childish act like refusing to swallow your broccoli.
Eating broccoli is useful because it promotes long-term health and xenophilia in tastes. Children typically refuse because they have short time horizons (as time horizon is somewhat proportional to age). How is having a high discount rate like judging actions by their expected value, rather than their social reputation?

gmalivuk wrote:And in any case, I think your more important point is that which individual wins an election is *far* from the only consequence of that election.
Right. Let's be charitable and double the EV of voting when we include future effects. What if it's still not cost-effective?
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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby Jacque » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:46 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
Jacque wrote:In elections and voting, you have no idea who has more votes than the other guy when you place yours.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fivethirty ... n_outcomes

Jacque wrote:*Of course analysts will tell you what the "mood of the country is" and polls will tell you informally which way people are leaning, but from what we've experienced in the last few elections, things can get pretty darn close.

"Hey Maw, you know that independent site 538.com? Well, they's saying that our state is gonna swing in favor of X in the vote! Guess voting is pointless after all!"

Wikipedia wrote:In the final update of his presidential forecast model at midday of November 4, 2008, Silver projected

Guess I should wait until the last minute and see what the models say before voting then huh, that way I don't suffer the horrible consequences of maybe voting for the loser? All based on a prediction made "midday" – also likely on the East Coast I'm assuming – that was made when there were 6+ hours left in the voting day in that particular timezone alone.

That's taking quite the risk considering the possible outcomes.

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby Zamfir » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:35 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:They make these decisions at the resolution of single votes out of hundreds of millions? I am, to say the least, skeptical.

Isn't that a bit too Zenonian? Consider a digital thermometer, with a resolution of 1 degree. That hardly implies that you can heat a room in steps of 0.1 degree without influencing the thermometer. In a sense, that is the discrete election situation in miniature. If you do not have a better measurement of the temperature, you have to assume that a single 0.1 increase has 1/10 odds of inducing a 1 degree raise of the thermometer. The many possibilities of no effect get balanced by the multiplied effect when you do affect the thermometer.

People looking at election outcomes aren't entirely like digital thermometers. There's minimum margin they (and the counting system) would register at all, which will have a little effect on people. Larger changes will induce larger responses in people, though not necessarily in linear proportion to the effect.

But the balancing works the same at every level. Perhaps a certain kind of reponse requires a certain threshold to be triggered, meaning that most individual changes in election margin will not change that particular response. That gets balanced by the multiplier for the change that does trigger the response.

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:33 pm UTC

Jacque wrote:Guess I should wait until the last minute and see what the models say before voting then huh, that way I don't suffer the horrible consequences of maybe voting for the loser? All based on a prediction made "midday" – also likely on the East Coast I'm assuming – that was made when there were 6+ hours left in the voting day in that particular timezone alone.
Which would be relevant if 538 was basing its projections on already tallied votes alone. But of course, that's not at all what was happening. That site and some others (betfair.com comes to mind as another that correctly predicted all 50 states several elections in a row) base their predictions on *all* the information available before the actual votes are tallied. For example, both poll data *and* the understanding of how that data can be flawed.

It may not be risk-free enough for *you* to choose not to vote because of it, but looking at their prior record could certainly be enough for some other people to decide the result is certain enough to stay home.
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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby Jacque » Wed Sep 07, 2011 5:22 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Jacque wrote:Guess I should wait until the last minute and see what the models say before voting then huh, that way I don't suffer the horrible consequences of maybe voting for the loser? All based on a prediction made "midday" – also likely on the East Coast I'm assuming – that was made when there were 6+ hours left in the voting day in that particular timezone alone.
Which would be relevant if 538 was basing its projections on already tallied votes alone. But of course, that's not at all what was happening. That site and some others (betfair.com comes to mind as another that correctly predicted all 50 states several elections in a row) base their predictions on *all* the information available before the actual votes are tallied. For example, both poll data *and* the understanding of how that data can be flawed.

It may not be risk-free enough for *you* to choose not to vote because of it, but looking at their prior record could certainly be enough for some other people to decide the result is certain enough to stay home.

You're right. Still not risk-free enough for me. Had I been aware of 538.com I'd still have voted (same goes for the prediction of any entity).

The issues that I care about matter to me and I want them counted among everyone else's (who voted).

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby kernelpanic » Sat Sep 17, 2011 2:50 am UTC

I might be able to vote in the 2012 elections in Mexico, but even if I can, I fully intend not to.
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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby Sosekopp » Sun Sep 18, 2011 4:48 pm UTC

I will be able to vote in the 2013 elections in Norway, and I definitely will vote. I might even stand for election.

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby gorcee » Mon Sep 19, 2011 8:55 pm UTC

Here's a thought experiment.

Let's say you live in a region of population N. The election is coming up, there are only two candidates, and you know with certainty that N/2 + k voters will be voting for the candidate opposite your choice.

1.) Would you still cast a vote for what you are certain will be the losing candidate?

2.) What if you knew that the winning candidate's subsequent legislative decisions would be based on the percentage of votes that went against him?

3.) What if you knew that the candidates for the next election (to compete against the incumbent) would be selected based on the number of votes the current candidate got?

4.) What if you knew that campaign funding was dispersed based on what percentage of the vote the losing candidate/party received?

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby tastelikecoke » Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:44 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
tastelikecoke wrote:Christian neo-cons or shitty politician candidates is an improvement over basketball players, TV show stars and feudal lords as candidates.
Really? If the leader personally owns a country, they have a strong incentive to behave in a way that's beneficial for the long term. If the 'leader' only has power temporarily, their time horizon is massively shorter- they'll be willing to take actions that are destructive in the long term for a short benefit around election time. Democracy as a method of selecting political leaders is neither necessary nor sufficient to obtain quality leadership (though it might help).
*late*This is the feudal lords I speak of.

Actually, I'm not talking about a democracy anymore in a sense. Most people here are bribable, and votes can either count as -1 or 256,302 depending on the economy. Cultural differences can be blamed I guess.

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Re: My first election? Fuck it, man.

Postby MiB24601 » Thu Oct 06, 2011 11:45 pm UTC

I'm really excited about this one candidate who is running for election in my area this November so I'm making calls to voters for his campaign. I also go to some campaign events. Because of these two things, I just had this very strange phone call.

Me: Hi, I'm calling from the ____ campaign and I was calling to see if we could count on your support in November.
Them: Oh, you can't. Let me tell you why.
Me: OK.
Them: Your guy was at this event this past weekend and I wanted to speak to him about a topic but he wouldn't take the time to talk to me.
Me: He blew you off?
Them: I wouldn't call it that. I kept shouting his name to get his attention but he wouldn't turn around.
Me: Wait, was this at the community college?
Them: Yes!
Me: Oh, I was there. I'm sorry but it was pretty loud there so I don't think he heard you. If you'd like, I can arrange to have him call you himself.
Them: Oh, well, that makes sense. Well, I'm still angry, which is bad because I agree with him and I hate the other guy but now I have to vote for the other guy.
Me: Ah. Well, I'm sorry you feel that way.

This confirms all my worst fears about elections.
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