I’m not a superstitious person. But I do believe your brain can
come to associate particular objects with particular feelings, and
this can affect you in ways you don’t consciously notice. So today as
I prepared my morning coffee, I thought:
Did I have a good writing day yesterday? Because I used my
Richmond Football Club cup: they won on the weekend and thus I was
feeling good about them. It was a logical choice. But today: would there
be a carry-over effect, or would the cup have absorbed too many
new vibes from the day before, and if so, were they good vibes or bad?
At this point I realized that I was standing frozen in the kitchen
with half a teaspoon of sugar hovering above the cup. I’m glad
no-one saw this, because it might have been difficult to explain
how I’m not a superstitious person.
I decided to stop doing those blog posts where I pontificate about
how the world should be. Because reading those back, they even annoy me.
And the ones that annoy me the most are when I start yapping about
politics. I mean, please, like the world needs another shrill, ignorant
opinion on that.
Well, maybe just one more. Don’t you think it’s strange how
often people vote for somebody
they don’t like? Elections should be simple, shouldn’t they? We
vote for whoever we want to win, and the popular choice prevails.
But in practice, you often have an incentive to vote “tactically.” For
example, if you’re electing the US Democratic nominee, there’s no
point voting for your favorite candidate if he or she has no chance of defeating
the Republican nominee in the General Election. You should only vote for
someone who can ultimately win. So now your vote has
to not simply express your own preference, but be modified by
what you believe everybody else prefers, too.
Anywhere there’s plurality voting, you can’t safely vote for your favorite
candidate unless you’re confident enough other people will too.
Otherwise, you’re smarter to vote for your least-hated candidate
with a practical chance of victory. (Or
Now, in my experience, any time someone expresses an opinion they don’t
personally have, but think others do, it’s a terrible opinion. For example, I’ve seen it
produce some pretty ugly book covers. And I’ll ignore it
in any reader feedback I get on my story drafts. People who try to
guess what other people want end up settling on the dullest,
most conservative, and uninspiring choice available, even if none
of them personally prefer it.*
I get that there’s no such thing as a perfect voting system.
are more warped than
but, okay, it’s
difficult to create a fair, practical voting system.
Still. How disturbing is it that on top of every other form of corruption
inherent in the political process, it can be completely reasonable for
you to walk into a ballot room and vote for someone other than who you
want to win?
(* That’s one of the reasons Hillary got so close to Barack. There, I said it.)