Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Voting and Democracy

Voting plays a significant place in the formulation of institutions of governance, the expansion or contraction of government, and the election of representatives at the federal, state, and local government levels. This voting system is profoundly practiced in nations that exercise democracy as their mode of governance. In authoritarian and some monarchical systems, citizens have no right to choose their governments of choice. While democracy is finding place in many parts of the world, still, many nations that call themselves democratic, fall under the pseudo-democracy category where the democratic form in practice is imperfect and short of the hallmarks required of a real democracy.
In our modern world, nations in North America, Western Europe, and Australia may be referred to as modern democracies. However, due to human negligence, self-interests, corrupt bureaucracy and malfeasance practiced by the governing hierarchy, and poor governance on the part of elected representatives, even modern democracies at times fall under the categorization of pseudo-democracy. According to Hyman (2011), individual voters are usually allowed one vote when making public choices during election time. In politics, proposals are usually approved through the simple majority rule. People vote by looking at the benefits associated with a product and those who choose to vote anticipate benefits to be reaped from what they vote for. Some who are of voting age may choose not to vote if they perceive nothing beneficial and no specific attachment to the political exercise. 
Voting is a vital tool or implement for those of voting age. They can use their votes to defend their voting rights, national sovereignty, and integrity and decide on the best selection of goods and services that will shape their future. By partaking in policy formulations, voters can reach unanimous decisions to forge a better future for themselves and for future generations. People vote in order to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of fellow citizens.
Forming groups or associations may be detrimental to the smooth running of a nation or it may yield significant progress that elevates the living conditions of millions who may be struggling for survival or finding means to make ends meet. Fighting in unison such as voting for a cause is a democratic undertaking that eventually reaps fruits if voting is exercised in a civil and thoughtful manner. People vote on a number of issues such as the changing of ineffective representatives, distribution of public goods and services, taxation, and other salient issues that affect their daily lives.
According to Hyman (2011), there is the belief that is exclusive to quite rational people, that voting may not make a difference in their living conditions. Choosing not to vote may not likely change an election outcome. It is not rational to vote if benefits of voting are close to zero even if the expected benefits are positive such as to influence outcomes. Voter turnouts are usually not professional as experienced during the 2006 congressional when voter turnout was 37.1% while the election between the two heavyweight presidential contenders, John McCain and Barack Obama, climbed to 56.8% among people of voting age.
People tend to vote by looking at the benefits they expect to reap from voting on certain burning issues or worthy factors such as the delivery of public goods and services and the advancement of social change. If they think they will benefit by voting for a certain representative, they could be seen voting in groups. Interest groups are people driven by collective needs and aspirations. The Western world has seen the proliferation of interest groups who lobby representatives to ensure their common needs are addressed collectively. Election financiers also play a great role in how government should be crafted and managed. They spend millions of dollars to have their prospective representatives ushered into office so they can drive their needs.
In the American system, it is the elected institutions that are responsible for deciding the supply of goods. Public goods and services are best managed when supplied in an equitable and efficient manner. Efficiency ensures public goods reach their destinations and everyone gets a fair share. People vote for various reasons and the most important ones being affiliation to political party, the time and effort available, and the belief in the political system. Unlike in many parts of the world where political parties usually seem to be bloated and out of proportion, in the United States, it is only the Democratic and Republican parties that attract greater attention among voters as they tend to be the only two parties that shine in the limelight of political dispensation.
As argued by Hyman (2011), candidates who follow extreme positions in politics often find themselves off the edge and losing elections. I do concur with Hyman’s arguments because many political leaders who followed extreme political routes found themselves trounced for being too inclined to political ideals that were out of the ordinary and not in line with modern voter demands. The loss of seats in an assembly also puts a political party at a dangerous edge where their representative power either in the Senate or the House may diminish and loss credibility especially when voting on contentious issues that attract party followers such as the citizens who look to the party for political dispensations and general representation.
According to Mikesell (2011), individuals in society make the best decisions that shape their lives while philosopher-kings and dictators may accurately make determinations that bar others from doing what is befitting their living conditions. According to the Pareto criterion, if one person may feel better off as a result of an action by a policy, then society in general will be better off in regards to that policy implementation (Mikesell, 2011).
To the contrary, such action may not benefit society as a whole because the number that are unaffected by that policy implementation cannot be verified scientifically when making a comparison of those who benefited. Because parties are seekers of votes, they are not necessarily units of principles or ideals. Because parties are unaware what voters want, likewise, citizens are oblivious to what government has done or is doing (Mikesell, 2011). In a world of imperfect knowledge, governments do not treat all citizens equally. There are those citizens who are given preference by the government over others because they influence government actions.
Firstly, people tend to vote using the one person one vote slogan though such actions do not necessarily represent political influence for the most part, well. Secondly, people who see themselves as specialists will emerge as people’s representatives and convince the government that the policies they embody will directly benefit them and their supporters as well. In due cause, the government will filter the provided information and treat them as data. Any government that is rational in context will discount such claims by representative forces though it will not ignore them altogether. According to Mikesell (2011), imperfect information is cause for bribery and corruption scandals. Parties apply every possible means to garner support and stay in power and this is more widespread during elections.
Grassroots lobbying which is the mobilization of constituents to act on causes that are exclusive to select groups have been known to influence political representatives by communicating through the use or application of phone calls, e-mails, letters, and faxes (Mikesell, 2011). Since all votes have equal weights, trading votes is an important factor in the process of representation. Legislators control the supply of goods through logrolling which can lead to the production of wasteful spending, through special interest groups, and the use of the majority rule.
Hyman, D.N. (2011). Public finance: A contemporary application of theory to policy (10th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western, Cengage Learning.
Mikesell, J.L. (2011). Fiscal administration: Analysis and applications for the public sector (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. 


Cynthia Mcardle said...

Nice article! I love this! Thanks for posting! Two thumbs up for this!


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