Against Irrationality

Mundane day. Back to gym. Happily sparse. Only one weight bouncer – the polite one – and zero educationalists. And a passable, if laughable, podcast. An episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas” dealing with why modern democracy doesn’t work. 

Simple answer: Bogs.

The lead out interviewee, a PHD candidate in political science (?) who claimed that the pace of politics today negates rationalism. May be, but my observation is that we all bring emotion to politics and that bogs suspend any rationality they may have. Not that is is clear bogs have much, if any, rationality.

The podcast proceeded to interview other political science types and amass more theories. The problem, which demonstrates how “if you have to tell me it’s a science, it isn’t”, is that all these folks assume that voting is decided on a “pro” basis. This gives them the appearance of having ignored the electorate, at least the nerd electorate, for several decades.

In my experience, most of the folks I interact with, who admittedly are skewed demographically to rationality, are “con” voters when it comes to office holders. And they have been for lots of years, at least since I was in college.And I will argue that the process is at least semi-rational. As much so as optimization and prioritization can be.

This approach works best for high level elections where there are only a few candidates, mostly because of the data aspect. The approach is to gather up the candidates’ stances on a list of issues such as employment, climate, abortion, corporate welfare, ….

Once this is done, the issues with a common position among all candidates are removed on the basis of no differentiation. The remaining issues are then value established (for/against) and prioritized. Then each candidates is assessed on each issue as agree/disagree, and each disagreement issue is given a score based on my priority for the issue (importance -> magnitude of score) and the scores summed for each candidate. The candidate with the lowest score (least disagreement) is usually the one I vote for.

The exception is that I check the results to see if I still agree with my initial prioritization. This is usually a null exercise for me because the issues tend to be ones that differentiate the political parties. 

The rationality that counts, of course, is embedded in the prioritization and while it does have a hormonal aspect at least a formal assessment gets forced.

Of course, most of this is wasted in Alibam where there are no real differences between democruds and repulsians and the national elections are always, for now, for the repulsian candidate. But at least I have a clear conscience of having made a (sorta) rational pick.