Triumph of the Won't

November 8, 2014

My parents dutifully voted in every election. My mother voted the straight Republican ticket, and my father the straight Democratic ticket, neatly canceling each other out. Neither would miss an election, as that would, of course, make the other's vote actually count. On bond issues, school boards, referendums and the like, they usually voted with one mind. But for President, or Senator, or Governor, they rarely agreed. Basically, they voted not so much for a candidate as against each other's candidate. In one election only, the 1992 Presidential race, they both voted for third-party candidate Ross Perot, because neither could stomach the mainstream candidates. I would not be surprised to learn that many marriages are like this.

It is possible that most voters make their choices negatively rather than positively: they vote for a candidate that they dislike the least; for a proposition that they find the least objectionable; for a tax or bond issue that is less offensive than another. They do not so much vote for a candidate as against another one. My mother votes for Republicans not because Republicans do things that she likes, but because Democrats do things that she does not like. People do not vote for candidates and ballot measures. they vote against candidates and ballot measures.

If ever a "None of the Above" box is included on a ballot, you may be sure that it will get the most votes.


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Triumph of the Won't

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