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Voting, Not Voting, and the Implied Ethical Consequences

ElJeffeElJeffe Roaming the streets, waving his mod gun around.Moderator, ClubPA Mod Emeritus
edited June 7 in Debate and/or Discourse
A lot of people seem to want to talk about whether or not you should always vote, when it's okay to not, if candidate quality matters, and whatnot.

So here is an unofficial, non-mod-sanctioned thread to talk about that stuff so that the congress thread can get back to discussing congress.

Note that this is not an election 2024 thread. It is not about Biden in particular. It is about the general philosophy behind the act of voting and the ethical considerations that go into that decisions.

Please please PLEASE don't jump in here and immediately start yelling at people.

For my part, I think that in most situations, you have a moral obligation to vote in any election where you can plausibly affect the outcome. Exceptions are granted if, say, you're in a state that is so blue or red that you're vote is effectively irrelevant.

Some would argue that not voting sends a powerful message, but I would counter that, especially among certain demographics, the message has its power lessened by the ambiguity inherent in not doing a thing. If you're in a low-participation demo, did you not vote because you're taking a principled stand, or did you not vote because you couldn't be arsed? It's hard to tell the difference, if you're a politician. All you know is the guy didn't show up.

This creates a curious dynamic whereby a demo can have a powerful positive effect that can turn elections - if you all turn out to vote, it sends a message that yours is a demo worth courting - but lacks the ability to send a strong negative message - if you stay home, nobody quite knows why.

This may not apply to larger and more reliable demos. If middleaged white males sit one out, it'll be more noticeable. (Though even then, the only clear message is "we don't like these guys" without any further direction as to what you would actually like.)

Anyway, there you go. Hopefully this offers a place to hold this conversation that isn't the congress thread.

Mod Edit:
* The act of voting is a personal thing that is done for personal reasons. You do not have to justify why you are personally voting a certain way to anyone. Conversely, you do not have to doggedly pursue someone and demand that they explain the way they are voting to you (in every single case someone has publicly stated their vote, they have explained their position pretty clearly, so I would spend more time reading the thread). No amount of mathing it out, game theory, moral calculus, or comparisons to history will ever change that, and in fact, probably entrench the opinion of the person you are hounding. Also, no one here is voting for Trump, even if you have deeply held beliefs about voting for a third party or withholding your vote.
* This is quickly becoming a referendum on the upcoming 2024 election. I would remind people that the directive in the OP is that this thread is NOT specifically about Biden and Trump. I realize that this is the context that we are discussing this topic with the election being imminent, but folks are deviating from the topic of Voting into other aspects of the upcoming election or current events.
* This thread isn't about using violence as a means to enact political change. Please refrain from using arguments like "If Trump is SO BAD, then why isn't someone doing something about it?" (Historically, there are many examples of countries under autocratic leaders, including some existing right now, who never rise up and overthrow them) or "That means you are ADVOCATING violence!" (No one in the thread has suggested that this is Plan A.) Goosey statements about the nature of violence in direct action are off-topic, as well... we are talking about Voting in this thread, not alternatives to voting. This topic will potentially get the thread permanently locked, so let's not go down that road.
* Finally, and this is just a general thing, resist the temptation to IMMEDIATELY reply to someone because they are WRONG on the Internet. Take a breath, think about what you want to write, and then re-read it and edit it. This is an emotionally-charged subject that a lot of people are passionate about, so it is well worth it to sit back and not give into impulse. Your posts will be better and your points will be made clearer.

I submitted an entry to Lego Ideas, and if 10,000 people support me, it'll be turned into an actual Lego set!If you'd like to see and support my submission, follow this link.
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    GnizmoGnizmo Registered User regular
    Asking people to vote to uphold their own oppression is never moral, and cannot be. It is asking someone to work to make a better world for you while not doing the same for them. If you do not care enough to make a loud problem about their continued suffering then it is just selfishness disguised as anger to give them grief over it.

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    jmcdonaldjmcdonald I voted, did you? DC(ish)Registered User regular
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    A lot of people seem to want to talk about whether or not you should always vote, when it's okay to not, if candidate quality matters, and whatnot.

    So here is an unofficial, non-mod-sanctioned thread to talk about that stuff so that the congress thread can get back to discussing congress.

    Note that this is not an election 2024 thread. It is not about Biden in particular. It is about the general philosophy behind the act of voting and the ethical considerations that go into that decisions.

    Please please PLEASE don't jump in here and immediately start yelling at people.

    For my part, I think that in most situations, you have a moral obligation to vote in any election where you can plausibly affect the outcome. Exceptions are granted if, say, you're in a state that is so blue or red that you're vote is effectively irrelevant.

    Some would argue that not voting sends a powerful message, but I would counter that, especially among certain demographics, the message has its power lessened by the ambiguity inherent in not doing a thing. If you're in a low-participation demo, did you not vote because you're taking a principled stand, or did you not vote because you couldn't be arsed? It's hard to tell the difference, if you're a politician. All you know is the guy didn't show up.

    This creates a curious dynamic whereby a demo can have a powerful positive effect that can turn elections - if you all turn out to vote, it sends a message that yours is a demo worth courting - but lacks the ability to send a strong negative message - if you stay home, nobody quite knows why.

    This may not apply to larger and more reliable demos. If middleaged white males sit one out, it'll be more noticeable. (Though even then, the only clear message is "we don't like these guys" without any further direction as to what you would actually like.)

    Anyway, there you go. Hopefully this offers a place to hold this conversation that isn't the congress thread.

    i'd argue that if you stay home "nobody quite knows why" really undersells it. If you stay home nobody gives a damn what you think.

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    Professor PhobosProfessor Phobos Registered User regular
    Voting is a civic responsibility and everyone should do it like clockwork.

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    Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    jmcdonald wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    A lot of people seem to want to talk about whether or not you should always vote, when it's okay to not, if candidate quality matters, and whatnot.

    So here is an unofficial, non-mod-sanctioned thread to talk about that stuff so that the congress thread can get back to discussing congress.

    Note that this is not an election 2024 thread. It is not about Biden in particular. It is about the general philosophy behind the act of voting and the ethical considerations that go into that decisions.

    Please please PLEASE don't jump in here and immediately start yelling at people.

    For my part, I think that in most situations, you have a moral obligation to vote in any election where you can plausibly affect the outcome. Exceptions are granted if, say, you're in a state that is so blue or red that you're vote is effectively irrelevant.

    Some would argue that not voting sends a powerful message, but I would counter that, especially among certain demographics, the message has its power lessened by the ambiguity inherent in not doing a thing. If you're in a low-participation demo, did you not vote because you're taking a principled stand, or did you not vote because you couldn't be arsed? It's hard to tell the difference, if you're a politician. All you know is the guy didn't show up.

    This creates a curious dynamic whereby a demo can have a powerful positive effect that can turn elections - if you all turn out to vote, it sends a message that yours is a demo worth courting - but lacks the ability to send a strong negative message - if you stay home, nobody quite knows why.

    This may not apply to larger and more reliable demos. If middleaged white males sit one out, it'll be more noticeable. (Though even then, the only clear message is "we don't like these guys" without any further direction as to what you would actually like.)

    Anyway, there you go. Hopefully this offers a place to hold this conversation that isn't the congress thread.

    i'd argue that if you stay home "nobody quite knows why" really undersells it. If you stay home nobody gives a damn what you think.

    Strong evidence to the contrary in that this thread was created in the first place

    wq09t4opzrlc.jpg
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    Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    There's a pretty lame dynamic in broad spectrum liberal US voters outreach. Left wing voters are largely scorned. They regularly vote for Dems but they're very much the whipping boy if anything goes wrong anyway. Their choice is largely between voting for the Dem or not voting and the way that is addressed is some variant of "idk fuck you fuck you fuck you if we lose its your fault we don't need you", but then look at how "moderate" voters are treated. Endless concessions, contortions, accommodations. No minority group too important to undermine on their behalf. And all this in favor of a group that regularly votes GOP and will do it again.

    Swing voters get the world while the left wing portion of the base gets whatever scraps the swing voters can accept. It's hard to look at the cause as something other than swing voters willingness to exact a high electoral price for deviancy.

    wq09t4opzrlc.jpg
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    TarantioTarantio Registered User regular
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Asking people to vote to uphold their own oppression is never moral, and cannot be. It is asking someone to work to make a better world for you while not doing the same for them. If you do not care enough to make a loud problem about their continued suffering then it is just selfishness disguised as anger to give them grief over it.

    How does voting uphold oppression?

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    GilgaronGilgaron Registered User regular
    To me I think that sounds symptomatic of FPTP voting and the collapse of views into a two party system dynamic. Hard to get past without something like a constitutional convention which would be as likely to lead us to Gilead as not.

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    SleepSleep Registered User regular
    edited May 30
    I mean yeah if I know that guy not voting for me is in fact -2 because they are going to +1 the op then I’m going to push for that over the simple -1 that is the person that just refuses to vote most of the time. If they never exercise the franchise because no one ever lives up to their standards then breaking myself for what is effectively and regularly just another 0 in the system instead of the -2 I’m looking at with losing the constant voter seems like a bad mathematical choice. If winning the game is your concern then aiming for the constant unflappable voter is the obvious winning strategy

    Sleep on
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    zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    My opinion is that voting is the 'returning your shopping cart' of basic civic responsibilities. It (should be) expected as a base minimal action that's part of participating in a society, and barring extenuating circumstances there's no good reason a person who has the option and ability to vote ethically wouldn't or shouldn't.

    Extenuating circumstances would be things like active voter suppression and things like truly unavoidable emergencies (which, I'd argue in a lot of cases are the result of voter suppression, in you don't have the option of alternate day voting / mail-in voting, etc).

    I think there are valid ethical methods of using your vote as a protest, but I do think that there is too much noise for simple abstention to send an effective message. Also in our current FPTP system with abstention against your preferred candidate being mathematically +1 vote for your non-preferred candidate, at least from a utilitarian moral framework it's hard to make any reasonable case for doing so.

    I personally think that if you want to protest do it in the primary, but in the general election one of the two candidates is going to win so the only ethical choice is to choose which of the two main candidates you consider least bad, and if you truly cannot hold your nose and vote for the 'lesser evil' then there is a degree of complicity in the harm of the 'greater evil'.

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    TuminTumin Registered User regular
    edited May 30
    Im not sure I buy not voting because the outcome is "foregone", +20, whatever, even if I dont worry about downticket races. Should I ever really believe that the past election's outcome and my knowledge of events dictates another identical outcome? It seems easy to get wrong, as a voter.

    I dont super want to get into the weeds on barriers to voting or suppression, obviously theyre bad and ofc a voter may not overcome them, but it seems obvious to me that voting should be preferred regardless of my personal feelings about likelihood.

    A 1% chance to win is only even 1% if the voters who could tip the scale show up to vote, winng eith long odds depends on ignoring odds.

    Tumin on
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    Professor PhobosProfessor Phobos Registered User regular
    People fought and died for the right to vote. Elections matter and have consequences.

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    jmcdonaldjmcdonald I voted, did you? DC(ish)Registered User regular
    People fought and died for the right to vote. Elections matter and have consequences.

    agreed. it is the literal height of privilege to not vote when one considers how hard folks have fought (and are still fighting) for the franchise.

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    zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    edited May 30
    Tumin wrote: »
    Im not sure I buy not voting because the outcome is foregone, even if I dont worry about downticket races. Should I ever really believe that the past election's outcome and my knowledge of events dictates another identical outcome? It seems easy to get wrong, as a voter.

    I dont super want to get into the weeds on barriers to voting or suppression, obviously theyre bad and ofc a voter may not overcome them, but it seems obvious to me that voting should be preferred regardless of my personal feelings about likelihood.

    A 1% chance to win is only even 1% if the voters who could tip the scale show up to vote, winng eith long odds depends on ignoring odds.

    This is something else I agree with.

    We've seen a number of upsets that never should have been and weren't expected to be all that close, and a number of unexpectedly close elections (Boebert for example) that a small number of extra votes could have flipped.

    Even if you believe yourself to be in an unassailable deep blue (edit - or deep red) area, until the votes are tallied you should never take the win or loss for granted. Being able to throw away your vote as a protest vote is a luxury and privilege, and there is always some risk involved that maybe polling is off.

    zagdrob on
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    Styrofoam SammichStyrofoam Sammich WANT. normal (not weird)Registered User regular
    A right does not obligate its use. People died for free speech rights.

    wq09t4opzrlc.jpg
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    GnizmoGnizmo Registered User regular
    Tarantio wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Asking people to vote to uphold their own oppression is never moral, and cannot be. It is asking someone to work to make a better world for you while not doing the same for them. If you do not care enough to make a loud problem about their continued suffering then it is just selfishness disguised as anger to give them grief over it.

    How does voting uphold oppression?

    If the person you are voting for will continue oppressing people than you are voting for that oppression. In our current society that is basically impossible to avoid I concede. I am not happy about that, but I don't think most people on this board are. When it is your own oppression the moral math changes.

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    TuminTumin Registered User regular
    edited May 30
    People fought and died for the right to dive a private submarine to 30,000 feet too, so. I dunno that dying for a thing is a great foundation for endorsement.

    There's pretty solid arguments for democracy on the theory of self-governance alone.

    Tumin on
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    shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Asking people to vote to uphold their own oppression is never moral, and cannot be. It is asking someone to work to make a better world for you while not doing the same for them. If you do not care enough to make a loud problem about their continued suffering then it is just selfishness disguised as anger to give them grief over it.

    Whether you vote or not, somebody is doing to wield power. To not vote is to refuse to use the power you do have to try and improve the situation. It is placing your own feeling of self-righteousness over the actual harms that are the result of the worst people winning elections.

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    GnizmoGnizmo Registered User regular
    shryke wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Asking people to vote to uphold their own oppression is never moral, and cannot be. It is asking someone to work to make a better world for you while not doing the same for them. If you do not care enough to make a loud problem about their continued suffering then it is just selfishness disguised as anger to give them grief over it.

    Whether you vote or not, somebody is doing to wield power. To not vote is to refuse to use the power you do have to try and improve the situation. It is placing your own feeling of self-righteousness over the actual harms that are the result of the worst people winning elections.

    Wielding the power to harm myself is not a reasonable thing to ask. Self harm is never moral.

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    enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    I have an observation regarding voting/non-voting within our current, two, party groups. I am very interested if others, especially our forum progressives, share my perspective. First a definition:

    (Party) Base: those who reliably show up to vote for one party.
    Example: I have voted in every election I have been eligible, and have voted (D) for every partisan candidate within those elections. Thus I consider myself part of the Democratic base.

    My observation is that on the (R) side, the base are the wing of the party. Let's call it MAGA. MAGA more reliably vote and therefore dominate candidate selection. On the (D) side, the base are the moderates of the party. Moderates more reliably vote and therefore dominate candidate selection.

    tl;dr: Right now, Bidens beat Bernies for (D); Trumps beat Romneys for (R).

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    GimGim a tall glass of water Registered User regular
    zagdrob wrote: »
    My opinion is that voting is the 'returning your shopping cart' of basic civic responsibilities.

    What happens when a group of voters doesn't feel that they are represented by civil society, though?

    Making a play to uphold a status quo that, at best, demonizes you regularly is a difficult sell.

    I can realpolitik about long-term domestic decisions all day long, but I'm also not a member of any outgroups. I don't think it's at all fair to pretend like those are unjust concerns that can be Moneyball'd away.

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    MagellMagell Detroit Machine Guns Fort MyersRegistered User regular
    I'll vote because in Florida it is super easy since the polls are open for like two weeks before election day and you can just vote whenever, but I'm not going to vote for Biden. I can't support somebody who is actively aiding a genocide. I overlooked his voting for the Iraq War and the dogshit way he handled Clarence Thomas being appointed to the Supreme Court the first time. Not to mention I don't love that his running mate is a prosecuter.

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    The WolfmanThe Wolfman Registered User regular
    I have a really simple view on it.

    If you don't vote, then I don't give a fuck what your opinion is for the most part. I'd go one step further and say you don't get to complain, but hey it's a free country, you can stamp your feet all you want. I just won't listen to a word you say.

    Voting at its most simplistic core is "Which one do you want?". Not voting is you saying "I don't care". Now let's be clear here. That's A-OK!. You don't care and don't want to vote? I think that's fine. That should always be a choice. But if your opinion is "I don't care", then... why should I care what you say when it comes to the ramifications of that vote? Either we find a new topic to chat about, or I just turn away and ignore you.

    "The sausage of Green Earth explodes with flavor like the cannon of culinary delight."
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    zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    A right does not obligate its use. People died for free speech rights.

    So you would say that people have no obligation to exercise those rights to speak out about injustice? Or that it's no ethical failure for people not to exercise those rights in protest of government policies you find morally reprehensible?

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    Professor PhobosProfessor Phobos Registered User regular
    Imagine a committed American Communist considering the 1952 Presidential election. Should he vote? There is no realistic chance of any meaningful victory for his party, his philosophy, his goals for the country, his belief system, and he's already faced and will continue to face significant social and legal pressure on his well-being. Eisenhower and Stevenson are largely indistinguishable on domestic economic policy or foreign policy towards the Soviet Union.

    He should still vote. Staying home makes him indistinguishable from someone who forgot, had a bad head cold and decided to stay home, etc. Tossing his meaningless vote for a third party is better than staying home - hey if the Communist Party suddenly gets a ton of votes, that at least sends a signal. Tossing his vote towards the slightly less anti-communist candidate is probably the most effective use of his Tuesday, that week. He can do other things every other Tuesday, every other week, but once every couple of years there exists a brief moment where he can engage in one very particular, marginally useful, political action.

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    TuminTumin Registered User regular
    edited May 30
    Gim wrote: »
    zagdrob wrote: »
    My opinion is that voting is the 'returning your shopping cart' of basic civic responsibilities.

    What happens when a group of voters doesn't feel that they are represented by civil society, though?

    Making a play to uphold a status quo that, at best, demonizes you regularly is a difficult sell.

    I can realpolitik about long-term domestic decisions all day long, but I'm also not a member of any outgroups. I don't think it's at all fair to pretend like those are unjust concerns that can be Moneyball'd away.

    Voting doesnt preclude a voter from doing whatever activity would weaken the status quo. An election will have a winner, it's pretty much the most certain part of the whole affair. Abstention does not weaken the winners position.

    Tumin on
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    MazzyxMazzyx Comedy Gold Registered User regular
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Tarantio wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Asking people to vote to uphold their own oppression is never moral, and cannot be. It is asking someone to work to make a better world for you while not doing the same for them. If you do not care enough to make a loud problem about their continued suffering then it is just selfishness disguised as anger to give them grief over it.

    How does voting uphold oppression?

    If the person you are voting for will continue oppressing people than you are voting for that oppression. In our current society that is basically impossible to avoid I concede. I am not happy about that, but I don't think most people on this board are. When it is your own oppression the moral math changes.

    In my head this type of thing comes back to two statements.

    One is the flippant thing around "No ethical X in Y." Mostly no ethical consumption in capitalism but I guess you are stating no ethical voting in the US or any democracy. Until we reach a utopian society I think you will always have a rough moral choice. This is why I marked this as flippant because I know it is used to just ignore people's actual worries. And it is a moral difficulty.

    The other statement is from my time working in international and health development. It was our mantra around any intervention, "Do least harm."

    No action or intervention comes without producing harm to someone, some community, some environment, or something you wouldn't even consider. Harm is an outcome of all actions in development no matter the intentions. So you never go in with the idea of doing "no harm" because you will never do anything. But you go in and working with the community find a way to get to the least harm you can predictably do. And sometimes this is doing no intervention at all and allowing existing harm to continue. Sometimes it is changing the intervention to something larger or smaller. Sometimes it is going ahead with the original plan.

    In this case voting is your intervention with a government that isn't violent or revolutionary and it is every few years. With that you must sit down and consider what is the least harm I can do with my action. And with that you do some basic math.

    If you vote for the imperfect person who at least isn't going to actively make things worse are reducing harm?

    Is not voting for either candidate, and this giving basically a half vote to each in the FPTP system doing the least harm?

    Is writing in or voting for a protest candidate doing the least harm in a FPTP system hoping your vote is part of a movement large enough to shift at least one party of the two major parties in a FPTP system?

    I don't like the "people died for this" statements either. People died to protect slavery. People died to continue the Holocaust. People die for bad things as much as good.

    But one thing you can see is the constant push and movement among those with the least voices to gain their voice through the franchise. And that tells me the franchise and voting is important and we should morally use that voice have because it is important enough to those with the least voice to try and acquire it.

    u7stthr17eud.png
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    enc0reenc0re Registered User regular
    edited May 30
    Let's say I can vote between two candidates. If elected, candidate A will break my legs. Candidate B will break my and my neighbor's legs.

    I will show up to vote and I will vote for candidate A. That does not mean I endorse anyone breaking my legs.

    enc0re on
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    zagdrobzagdrob Registered User regular
    I will say the 'people died for this right' in the normal sense (soldiers fought and died) is not a super compelling argument.

    Framing it more as 'people without the privileges (I) have fought and died against injustice to exercise this right' is more compelling to me. The fights of so many minority groups to earn representation and a voice is a compelling argument that I use my voice (vote) to amplify theirs.

    I know that's not the traditional 'died to give you' framing, but personally that's more the way I see it.

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    SleepSleep Registered User regular
    .
    Gim wrote: »
    zagdrob wrote: »
    My opinion is that voting is the 'returning your shopping cart' of basic civic responsibilities.

    What happens when a group of voters doesn't feel that they are represented by civil society, though?

    Making a play to uphold a status quo that, at best, demonizes you regularly is a difficult sell.

    I can realpolitik about long-term domestic decisions all day long, but I'm also not a member of any outgroups. I don't think it's at all fair to pretend like those are unjust concerns that can be Moneyball'd away.

    Eh I can tell which team will actively put me in a camp and which one would simply allow them to do it if they win the votes to make it happen.

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    TarantioTarantio Registered User regular
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Tarantio wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Asking people to vote to uphold their own oppression is never moral, and cannot be. It is asking someone to work to make a better world for you while not doing the same for them. If you do not care enough to make a loud problem about their continued suffering then it is just selfishness disguised as anger to give them grief over it.

    How does voting uphold oppression?

    If the person you are voting for will continue oppressing people than you are voting for that oppression. In our current society that is basically impossible to avoid I concede. I am not happy about that, but I don't think most people on this board are. When it is your own oppression the moral math changes.

    That's distinct from upholding it, though.

    The vote is not necessary for the oppression to continue. It continues just fine without the vote.

    Should there be a moral obligation to consider what good a vote could do, even if that good doesn't include stopping a specific harm?

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    shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Asking people to vote to uphold their own oppression is never moral, and cannot be. It is asking someone to work to make a better world for you while not doing the same for them. If you do not care enough to make a loud problem about their continued suffering then it is just selfishness disguised as anger to give them grief over it.

    Whether you vote or not, somebody is doing to wield power. To not vote is to refuse to use the power you do have to try and improve the situation. It is placing your own feeling of self-righteousness over the actual harms that are the result of the worst people winning elections.

    Wielding the power to harm myself is not a reasonable thing to ask. Self harm is never moral.

    Since it's almost never the case that all options are exactly the same, this doesn't even make sense as a hypothetical.

    But even if but some weird coincidence this was accurate it would just be ignoring the consequences of the election to others. Just completely not caring about the results for everyone else.

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    The WolfmanThe Wolfman Registered User regular
    If it were up to me, every election would have a voting option that said "I do not want any of these proposed options.". A way to make your voice both heard, and known that you don't want any choice. Unfortunately that only has any value in a ranking voting system. It is for the most part completely worthless and nothing more than a jerk off motion in FPTP systems. Because in those systems, it is effectively throwing your vote away. But if you were going to throw it away anyways by sitting your ass at home, then I guess nothing really changes.

    "The sausage of Green Earth explodes with flavor like the cannon of culinary delight."
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    Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Asking people to vote to uphold their own oppression is never moral, and cannot be. It is asking someone to work to make a better world for you while not doing the same for them. If you do not care enough to make a loud problem about their continued suffering then it is just selfishness disguised as anger to give them grief over it.

    This election
    https://www.erininthemorning.com/p/anti-trans-dem-loses-primary-to-lauren

    where an anti-trans dem got the boot, isn't going to stop anything in Texas at all. Won't change things other than the vote for horrible shit being like 100 instead of 101.

    Does this count, in your estimation?

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    GnizmoGnizmo Registered User regular
    Mazzyx wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Tarantio wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Asking people to vote to uphold their own oppression is never moral, and cannot be. It is asking someone to work to make a better world for you while not doing the same for them. If you do not care enough to make a loud problem about their continued suffering then it is just selfishness disguised as anger to give them grief over it.

    How does voting uphold oppression?

    If the person you are voting for will continue oppressing people than you are voting for that oppression. In our current society that is basically impossible to avoid I concede. I am not happy about that, but I don't think most people on this board are. When it is your own oppression the moral math changes.

    In my head this type of thing comes back to two statements.

    One is the flippant thing around "No ethical X in Y." Mostly no ethical consumption in capitalism but I guess you are stating no ethical voting in the US or any democracy. Until we reach a utopian society I think you will always have a rough moral choice. This is why I marked this as flippant because I know it is used to just ignore people's actual worries. And it is a moral difficulty.

    The other statement is from my time working in international and health development. It was our mantra around any intervention, "Do least harm."

    No action or intervention comes without producing harm to someone, some community, some environment, or something you wouldn't even consider. Harm is an outcome of all actions in development no matter the intentions. So you never go in with the idea of doing "no harm" because you will never do anything. But you go in and working with the community find a way to get to the least harm you can predictably do. And sometimes this is doing no intervention at all and allowing existing harm to continue. Sometimes it is changing the intervention to something larger or smaller. Sometimes it is going ahead with the original plan.

    In this case voting is your intervention with a government that isn't violent or revolutionary and it is every few years. With that you must sit down and consider what is the least harm I can do with my action. And with that you do some basic math.

    If you vote for the imperfect person who at least isn't going to actively make things worse are reducing harm?

    Is not voting for either candidate, and this giving basically a half vote to each in the FPTP system doing the least harm?

    Is writing in or voting for a protest candidate doing the least harm in a FPTP system hoping your vote is part of a movement large enough to shift at least one party of the two major parties in a FPTP system?

    I don't like the "people died for this" statements either. People died to protect slavery. People died to continue the Holocaust. People die for bad things as much as good.

    But one thing you can see is the constant push and movement among those with the least voices to gain their voice through the franchise. And that tells me the franchise and voting is important and we should morally use that voice have because it is important enough to those with the least voice to try and acquire it.

    I would say there is no perfectly ethical candidate to vote for yeah. I don't think this should be a controversial statement. The US government has a lot of power, and people who seek that power aren't likely to be the best people. I wish more people who could do well would run, or were able to run. People who want to just do good do exist. They just don't often make it far enough.

    I will also note that there is a drift in here from what I am saying, and I see it often on these boards. Not voting to continue your own oppression is not the same as refusing to vote at all. It is simply not voting for the people who seek to oppress you. I make every effort I can to vote in every election I am allowed to participate in*. I vote. I vote for candidates who earn my vote. Democracy is not possible if I have to vote for anyone else.

    *I don't vote in presidential primaries because it is pointless for me. Not in a "Does my one vote even matter way?" There has never been more than one candidate that is campaigning by the time the primary vote happens here. My vote literally does not matter there.

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    RatherDashing89RatherDashing89 Registered User regular
    If we're judging by a calculus of outcome I have a hard time telling any individual they are obligated towards a certain action, because there are so many factors causing their vote to have a (trending towards) zero impact on the outcome. Plus then you get into absurd "predict the future" outcome-based morality, like recommending that everyone vote for the worse candidate because you've determined that will lead to a stronger progressive party emerging in response, and the suffering in the meantime is outweighed by the net good of et cetera.

    But if you believe (as I do) that an action can be right or wrong independent of its outcome...then for me to vote for someone I do not support, someone I think is fundamentally unqualified for the position, opposed to my own values, and doing active harm with their use of the office (as, for example, I have found all recent presidential candidates to be and I do not expect this situation to change)...for me to vote for that person is at best dishonest and at worst makes me complicit in their harmful actions.

    From the perspective of outcome, me staying home or writing in or even just picking the third candidate in the list all have equivalent outcome--no effect. There is a very significant chance that, depending on my district and a number of other factors, even a regular vote for one of the two candidates will also have no effect. But I've seen plenty of comments here more to the effect that voting is a personal moral duty--that it's not about net outcome, but about personal responsibility. I agree. And from that standpoint there is a difference between those actions. But if you're going to say, "you have a moral duty to vote whether your vote will make a difference or not", based on moral arguments and the weight of sacrifice made for voting....than I would respond that my vote must be based on my moral conscience and not on outcome calculus. Which means I am going to throw my vote away rather than voting for someone evil.

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    GnizmoGnizmo Registered User regular
    Tarantio wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Tarantio wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Asking people to vote to uphold their own oppression is never moral, and cannot be. It is asking someone to work to make a better world for you while not doing the same for them. If you do not care enough to make a loud problem about their continued suffering then it is just selfishness disguised as anger to give them grief over it.

    How does voting uphold oppression?

    If the person you are voting for will continue oppressing people than you are voting for that oppression. In our current society that is basically impossible to avoid I concede. I am not happy about that, but I don't think most people on this board are. When it is your own oppression the moral math changes.

    That's distinct from upholding it, though.

    The vote is not necessary for the oppression to continue. It continues just fine without the vote.

    Should there be a moral obligation to consider what good a vote could do, even if that good doesn't include stopping a specific harm?

    I don't know. That is one I will have to ponder. It doesn't address my central assertion though. Reducing harm is always good, but voting for your own oppression is not something that can be considered moral.
    shryke wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Asking people to vote to uphold their own oppression is never moral, and cannot be. It is asking someone to work to make a better world for you while not doing the same for them. If you do not care enough to make a loud problem about their continued suffering then it is just selfishness disguised as anger to give them grief over it.

    Whether you vote or not, somebody is doing to wield power. To not vote is to refuse to use the power you do have to try and improve the situation. It is placing your own feeling of self-righteousness over the actual harms that are the result of the worst people winning elections.

    Wielding the power to harm myself is not a reasonable thing to ask. Self harm is never moral.

    Since it's almost never the case that all options are exactly the same, this doesn't even make sense as a hypothetical.

    But even if but some weird coincidence this was accurate it would just be ignoring the consequences of the election to others. Just completely not caring about the results for everyone else.

    Did you accidentally hit quote for me? Nothing here is remotely relevant to what I have said. I am very confused.
    Phoenix-D wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Asking people to vote to uphold their own oppression is never moral, and cannot be. It is asking someone to work to make a better world for you while not doing the same for them. If you do not care enough to make a loud problem about their continued suffering then it is just selfishness disguised as anger to give them grief over it.

    This election
    https://www.erininthemorning.com/p/anti-trans-dem-loses-primary-to-lauren

    where an anti-trans dem got the boot, isn't going to stop anything in Texas at all. Won't change things other than the vote for horrible shit being like 100 instead of 101.

    Does this count, in your estimation?

    Count as what? I am not certain I am parsing the question correctly. In hopes of answering it in a roundabout way I will say I would vote for that person in the primary and general yes. She is committed to stopping the oppression. No one person in our government can stop it so this seems like a weird question to ask. I think I am missing something but maybe not.

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    Professor PhobosProfessor Phobos Registered User regular
    By the "participation in oppression" logic, every woman that has voted in any election has done exactly that. There are still sexist features of American law, culture, society, and government. No national election has had a viable candidate with a proposal that would plausibly eliminate all of it and equalize the treatment of women with men.

    By this logic, the Suffragettes were wasting their time. But they clearly weren't wasting their time and secured important victories.

    If you believe taxation is theft, then voting is your participation in your own oppression, as neither party is going to eliminate an imposed system of compulsory levies on individuals. But if you do believe taxation is theft, you should vote for the party that imposes the lowest taxes, because you're voting for less theft.

    Trump (and more importantly, the people pulling his strings) are open about what they want to do, and they want to roll back almost all of the United States' hard-won progressive victories going back to the the 1890s.


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    GnizmoGnizmo Registered User regular
    By the "participation in oppression" logic, every woman that has voted in any election has done exactly that. There are still sexist features of American law, culture, society, and government. No national election has had a viable candidate with a proposal that would plausibly eliminate all of it and equalize the treatment of women with men.

    So you believe unless an action completely solves a problem that it is not worth doing? I comletely disagree with that, and I think maybe you do as well. I think we will get a better understanding of each other by responding to the words written rather than the words we are assuming the other will write.

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    LanzLanz ...Za?Registered User regular
    edited May 30
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    shryke wrote: »
    Gnizmo wrote: »
    Asking people to vote to uphold their own oppression is never moral, and cannot be. It is asking someone to work to make a better world for you while not doing the same for them. If you do not care enough to make a loud problem about their continued suffering then it is just selfishness disguised as anger to give them grief over it.

    Whether you vote or not, somebody is doing to wield power. To not vote is to refuse to use the power you do have to try and improve the situation. It is placing your own feeling of self-righteousness over the actual harms that are the result of the worst people winning elections.

    Wielding the power to harm myself is not a reasonable thing to ask. Self harm is never moral.

    There’s also the fact that Shryke’s argument is like…

    Okay I am exhausted so here is the quick short blunt version:

    It is a narrow, individualistic perception of the exercise of power that fails to take into account the power differential between individual voter and the system of the state.

    I, personally, do not have much fucking power against the state. I know this because it is fairly self evident and there are many systems arrayed against me if I attempt to openly defy the state if it is against me in some manner (see: in many ways, as Gnizmo notes, the American history of openly being a member of marginalized, oppressed groups).

    It is only by banding together with like minded individuals or adjacently ideological allies that I can balance out this otherwise indomitable power differential; there is power, as always, in numbers.

    Now, the retort may be “well you’re doing that, your pooling together with a collective to build numbers against the oppressor, the GOP!” And well, no. Not actually. Voting is not doing that, for multiple reasons.

    One: Just casting a vote is a largely individual experience. There is not, necessarily, any kind of concerted collective of your interests at hand here, there is no Organizing. It’s merely extending support towards…

    Two: …an extant party that has its own motivations and interests that do not coincide fully with yours. It’s a big tent, and it turns out that tent more often than not contains factions that are, at best, ambivalent towards you and too often than not bear Active Hostility towards you and members of your marginalized and oppressed membership group(s).

    The larger party structure therefore is not actually adhering to me when I vote, I am merely giving them a sort of social credit of democratic power, a democratic sanction of approval, to operate and govern on my behalf. But so are those people who don’t give a fuck about me and mine or are actively hostile. This is where The Problem comes into play.

    Because unless I can organize me and mine to secure social power, those other groups will trample the fuck over us within the institution of the party. And because I am a member of a historically oppressed group who has only gained contested recognition of my basic humanity in the last few decades, I am starting from a place of strong to severe disadvantage. My group does not have the funding, does not have the manpower, does not have the institutional structure to fully meet head on the rival factions who, honestly, either want me to sit down and shut up and let the people who matter make decisions, or would happily eject me and mine from the party altogether if they could get away with it.

    Which means I must use methods beyond just trying to make my case known and hoping I will be sympathetic enough or poetic enough or whatever in a vacuum ideal debate bullshit removed from material interests and actual politicking to secure my interests within the party institution. Sometimes that means I have to draw a line and say “no, this is where you lose my support. Either you change and fight for me and mine, or you go without us.” And to build the meaningfulness of that threat, that ability to throw our weight around, we seek to organize with others like us or are willing to be supportive of us in order to have the power to make that a meaningful threat.

    Just voting for the party no matter what means we lose that power when the party acts against our interests and demands we go along anyways.

    Lanz on
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    ElJeffeElJeffe Roaming the streets, waving his mod gun around.Moderator, ClubPA Mod Emeritus
    zagdrob wrote: »
    Tumin wrote: »
    Im not sure I buy not voting because the outcome is foregone, even if I dont worry about downticket races. Should I ever really believe that the past election's outcome and my knowledge of events dictates another identical outcome? It seems easy to get wrong, as a voter.

    I dont super want to get into the weeds on barriers to voting or suppression, obviously theyre bad and ofc a voter may not overcome them, but it seems obvious to me that voting should be preferred regardless of my personal feelings about likelihood.

    A 1% chance to win is only even 1% if the voters who could tip the scale show up to vote, winng eith long odds depends on ignoring odds.

    This is something else I agree with.

    We've seen a number of upsets that never should have been and weren't expected to be all that close, and a number of unexpectedly close elections (Boebert for example) that a small number of extra votes could have flipped.

    Even if you believe yourself to be in an unassailable deep blue (edit - or deep red) area, until the votes are tallied you should never take the win or loss for granted. Being able to throw away your vote as a protest vote is a luxury and privilege, and there is always some risk involved that maybe polling is off.
    zagdrob wrote: »
    Tumin wrote: »
    Im not sure I buy not voting because the outcome is foregone, even if I dont worry about downticket races. Should I ever really believe that the past election's outcome and my knowledge of events dictates another identical outcome? It seems easy to get wrong, as a voter.

    I dont super want to get into the weeds on barriers to voting or suppression, obviously theyre bad and ofc a voter may not overcome them, but it seems obvious to me that voting should be preferred regardless of my personal feelings about likelihood.

    A 1% chance to win is only even 1% if the voters who could tip the scale show up to vote, winng eith long odds depends on ignoring odds.

    This is something else I agree with.

    We've seen a number of upsets that never should have been and weren't expected to be all that close, and a number of unexpectedly close elections (Boebert for example) that a small number of extra votes could have flipped.

    Even if you believe yourself to be in an unassailable deep blue (edit - or deep red) area, until the votes are tallied you should never take the win or loss for granted. Being able to throw away your vote as a protest vote is a luxury and privilege, and there is always some risk involved that maybe polling is off.
    zagdrob wrote: »
    Tumin wrote: »
    Im not sure I buy not voting because the outcome is foregone, even if I dont worry about downticket races. Should I ever really believe that the past election's outcome and my knowledge of events dictates another identical outcome? It seems easy to get wrong, as a voter.

    I dont super want to get into the weeds on barriers to voting or suppression, obviously theyre bad and ofc a voter may not overcome them, but it seems obvious to me that voting should be preferred regardless of my personal feelings about likelihood.

    A 1% chance to win is only even 1% if the voters who could tip the scale show up to vote, winng eith long odds depends on ignoring odds.

    This is something else I agree with.

    We've seen a number of upsets that never should have been and weren't expected to be all that close, and a number of unexpectedly close elections (Boebert for example) that a small number of extra votes could have flipped.

    Even if you believe yourself to be in an unassailable deep blue (edit - or deep red) area, until the votes are tallied you should never take the win or loss for granted. Being able to throw away your vote as a protest vote is a luxury and privilege, and there is always some risk involved that maybe polling is off.

    If you're talking like a 5% or even a 10% projected margin, sure. If you're someplace with a large population projected to have a 20 point margin, though, an upset means either rampant voting mischief or something cataclysmic enough that the election is probably not your primary concern anymore.

    Also, just want to point out that when I say voting is the ethical thing to do, I don't mean to such an extent that you're a terrible person if you don't, or anything. I think the "returning the shopping cart" example above is on point. One of my best friends rarely voted. I thought it was kind of low-key crappy, but it was pretty whatever.

    I submitted an entry to Lego Ideas, and if 10,000 people support me, it'll be turned into an actual Lego set!If you'd like to see and support my submission, follow this link.
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