Only little more than 200 years ago, one had to be male, white and prosperous, to be eligible to cast a vote. Fortunately, the franchise was ultimately extended to all American citizens and has remained the salient, definitional feature of our republican democracy; the one man (or woman), one vote, political doctrine has, in recent history, properly enjoyed the status of an emblematic American landmark.
Recently, serious and threatening attacks on the sanctity of the American election system by computer interference (“hacking”) has been uncovered, apparently conducted by a foreign agency, believed to be Russian. These contemptable and illegal acts of espionage have justifiably incurred an outraged response by our nation. At present, an official investigation by our security services, has been convened to seek confirmation of the perpetrators, and the determination of appropriate, responsive action. The apparent motivation, if confirmed, would seem to be the frustration of our democratic system of election, by the skewing of its results, thus resulting in an inaccurate or false expression of the will of the American voter; and perhaps the general undermining of our cherished democracy. It is beyond question that the fundamental operation of our democratic republic, relies upon the expressed will of the nation and is deterred by such wrongful acts of distortion of that will.
It is our intention in this note, to highlight two primary instances in which the American voting franchise is misused by a significant number of American voters (as opposed to foreign miscreants), whose irresponsibility and lack of mature perspective, bring about results which are ( as in the matter of such foreign criminal hacking), effectively atrophying or distorting election results, and thereby defeating the citizen-government responsive mandate of our established form of government.
Our first category of irresponsible voters, we term the “one issue voter.” There seems to arise, in every historical period, “hot,” polemic issues, regarding which the public becomes seriously divided in opinion. The polemics du jour seem to orbit around the issues of abortion rights, gun control legislation and climate science. Many “single issue voters” will, predictably, cast their vote for the candidate whom they believe, shares the same view as they do regarding a selective, hotly contested issue; thereafter, shamelessly enjoying the illegitimate, but perceived, feeling of having dutifully exercised his franchise as a good citizen. He is deluding himself; in fact, he has irresponsibly performed an act, which is inarguably antithetical to the very principle of the democratic vote. Every candidate’s platform consists of views and positions on various issues. The “one issue” voter, ignores the views of the candidate, other than his position on his single, mono-focused issue. His irresponsible vote for the candidate might serve to articulate a blind approval of the candidate’s stand on issues, which, conceivably, may be against that voter’s (or the nation’s) best interest. From the standpoint of the rational administration of the nation, the single- issue voters may (ignorantly) be every bit as culpable for a skewed or distorted expression of the popular will, as the despicable Russian hackers.
We have borrowed the terms, “Tribal” or “Groupthink” as the conceptual reference to our second category of dysfunctional voters. This class of voters appears to be made up of (insecure) people who seem willing to expend their valuable franchise (as well as possibly, principle) on the candidate, or issue, who, by some explicit or subtle suggestion, is favored by influential members of their insular group. Many members of such groups, have similarly bartered their neurotic feelings of insecurity and loneliness, for a more comfortable perception of social acceptance and identity within the perceived shelter of groups, by subscribing to mutually agreed upon, identical views. The failure of “Tribal Voters” to vote in accordance with their own, nuanced, personal beliefs and interests, is another act of disgraceful frustration of the national elective purpose. An astoundingly bizarre and illustrative example, of the “Tribal Voting” syndrome, is demonstrated by the reported, continuing support by Evangelical Christian voters, of Donald Trump, who has boasted, publicly and flamboyantly, of his numerous immoral sexual escapades.
We have been profoundly disturbed and frustrated with these thoughtless perversions of our fair and rationally devised democratic voting system, and earnestly look forward to the appearance, someday soon, of a wise enough person with effective resolutions to these problems.