Frustrated?

So, you know too many people who voted for some idiot instead of the person you supported. You can’t understand how people could vote the way they did. It’s obvious that if that candidate wins it is the worst possible thing that could happen to the U.S.A.

Not so much.

Why do people vote how they vote?

Unfortunately, the last reason for people to vote the way they do is because they’ve taken the time to thoroughly research the candidates and issues.

Some people think they’ve done the research, because they’ve watched the news, debates and speeches. I actively avoid watching debates and speeches. I listen to debates and I read speeches–I’ve been reading the State of the Union address for the past decade or so–because I don’t want to be swayed by candidates’ appearances or audience reactions. Most of the time, the taller candidate wins Presidential elections. I’m guessing that this is because taller candidates seem stronger. Trump is 6’2″, while Rubio is 5’10” and Cruz is 5’8″. Trump also has a huge advantage in name recognition from his years in the spotlight.

091715_heights

(Fox News graphic)

What is even worse is when people vote based on the negative things candidates say about one another. Why would you believe anything someone says about their adversary without doing your own research? The two ends of the spectrum for this are criticisms of the Sanders spending proposals and Trump’s wall. If you do the research, it isn’t difficult to see where Sanders has explained exactly how he is going to pay for his spending. You may not believe those explanations–I think  they are a bit rosy–but they are plausible. But, because his opponents scream “We can’t afford this!” almost no one does the research. They just take the screaming at face value. Trump, on the other hand, hasn’t said anything more than “I will make Mexico pay for it.” How he will do that he hasn’t made clear.

In short, people vote because of appearances, promises, and screaming. Most people don’t have the time, patience, or ability to do the research, so they let others do it for them.

Why it doesn’t matter

All of the Presidential candidates can promise the world, but, for the most part, they can’t do anything, because the Founding Fathers were pretty smart guys. They invented a great system of checks and balances. As long as neither party has a supermajority in both houses of Congress, there’s not a whole heck of a lot the President can do on his own. (The worst-case predictions have the Democrats losing three seats in the Senate, so the Republicans would still be short of the sixty they need.) If the Republicans think they’ll get a Scalia-level conservative on the Supreme Court, they are as deluded as the Democrats who think the Senate will approve a liberal. President Trump isn’t going to get Congress to approve his wall any more than Congress would approve Sanders’ spending plan.

What now?

Educate yourselves. Help your friends educate themselves. Be nice. Explain, don’t scream, and listen. Ask questions.

  • “Why do you think the guy whose catch phrase is ‘You’re Fired!’ would be a good jobs President?”
  • “How much do you think President Sanders can accomplish with a Republican Congress?”
  • “Do you think the Republicans will even talk to Hillary Clinton?”
  • “Do you think we should elect people to Congress who can work with people on the other side?”

Obviously, that last question is the most important.

Thanks for reading.

Topher

 

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