The Secrets of Democracy and Voting


X Marks the spot

We all know and understand the democratic system.

In theory multiple ideas are floated by charismatic politicians and the best idea wins. In practice? not so much.

The major benefit of democracy in my opinion is not the theoretical idea of people choosing their leaders, but that it allows an orderly transition of power.

People eventually get annoyed by their governments and often people close to power too long start to reek. Democracy allows those people to be replaced, probably by younger less reeking politicians with the same views, but sometimes with those with slightly different views.

Unless the outgoing government has been catastrophic, the replacements are rarely a radical departure from before.

A curious point is that governments rarely lose power when the economy is going well and rarely survive when it tanks. Their fates are often sealed by events outside their control – unless you are Robert Mugabe and you tank your own economy.

So far so good, but the big thing unsaid is that having the better ideas does not mean you will win – the biggest fallacy is the people change their minds.

In countries like the UK, there are constituencies where the people will have the luxury to change their minds. But other than voters becoming more conservative with age (where they want things to be like how they used to be when they weer younger), this is rare.

In a system where there are two major parties, appealing to the voters of the other block will rarely win you power. What normally changes the balance of power is enthusiasm from one group and dispondency from the other.

In America, Trump did not win because Democratic voters were convinced by his ideas or what he stood for.

In Nigeria the current president did not win power over the former president Goodluck Jonathan by convincing the voters of his opponents that he had the better plans and ideas.

In the UK Vote Leave did not win because it had the more convincing ideas.

It is the same all over the world. Often parties will be limited to somesegment of society, often limited by ethnicity, tribe or even religion.

The people that are represented by these parties rarely change their support. But governments change and often see saw between the major parties.

Why? Enthusiasm and participation.

In America Trump won because his supporters were more enthusiastic and therefore more likely to actually turn up to vote. Hillary voters were less enthusiastic and were less likely to turn up.

In Nigeria large parts of the previous presidents voter base failed to turn up to the elections.

In the UK the vote leave side was more enthusiastic and more likely to vote. The Remain side were less enthusiastic. Those that were enthusiastic were too busy telling others to vote on twitter.

In the next General elections in the UK, some Labour politicians being very divided, navel gazing and infighting. Many parts of the media, often controlled by Conservative voting multi millionnaires have managed to exploit that quite successfully (along with the almost deliberate sabotage and hatred of Corbyn by the BBC). All this has resulted in many Labour voters being unenthusiastic about voting.

Some have been convinced to vote against Labour due to their dislike of Corbyn (mostly on spurious grounds), but the biggest threat is voter apathy.

Labour voters are less likely to turn up and vote. Conservative voters, swelled in their ranks by dissertions from UKIP and being the older citizens are more likely to vote.

That means an over whelming victory for the Conservative party.

To change the result you do not need to change hearts and minds but make people participate. If the same proportion of younger voters vote as older ones, Labour would have a very successful elections.

But they wont. They will be too busy on twitter telling others to vote or asking whether the dress is blue and black or gold and white.

The only way to change this is to take part. Step 1 is to register to vote and make sure those you know are registered to vote. Deadline is 22 May 2017.