Monday, September 14, 2009
What are we voting for?
Voting in democracies is supposed to be a procedure in which we show which candidate or party represents best our interest. But is that really so? Most people do not read all the programs that the parties have written and that the candidates stand for. They see the candidates in TV broadcasts and they read the political news in the newspapers. Maybe they go even to a political meeting or they happen to meet a candidate somewhere in their town or village during a campaign. In such a way voters seem to build up their opinions and to decide for whom to vote. Anyway, that is the theory. But is that really so? In fact, most people do not vote after a rational weighing of programs and standpoints, but they follow their personal traditions and feelings. It is not a bad strategy. Following your personal tradition, means that you follow where you have always stand for. And as for following your feelings, psychologists have found out that in complex situations it is almost impossible for man to make rational calculations what to do. Then following your feelings will often lead to an acceptable result. And from that point of view it is second best to a rational decision. But what does it mean following your feelings? One would expect that in case of voting it would be a kind of emotional tentative weighing of candidates and parties on ground of what they have done and said in the past and what they promise to do. In fact this kind of weighing appears to be of secondary importance. What comes first is not what a candidate said or says, promised or promises to do and really did or does. What is of primary importance is what he or she looks like. In one word it is his or her face. Whether the candidate looks competent not whether he or she is competent seems to be most important for being elected, even more important than whether a candidate is judged honest or charismatic. And then we do not yet speak of what this competence stands for; what it is about. However, a candidate that looks competent does not need to be competent. He or she can or cannot be competent despite the appearance. But in these days this is what candidates and their parties anticipate in the campaign to come. They make use of stylists and other people who work on how they look and not on what they are. Therefore it is actually so that we do not vote for the most competent candidate in the sense of the person that is most likely to represent our interests well, but we vote for the best stylists and other people who make up the appearance of the candidate. Actually it is what many people know but they follow their feelings and vote for the face.