I hope you are ready for the election to end! One more day until sanity returns, although I don’t believe sanity will be the result of this election regardless of who wins or who loses. Like a pebble dropped into a pond I believe the ripples from this election will influence the fabric of our democracy and culture long after I am gone.
Which is one of the reasons I am sending out some comments from “Losers, Weepers: How voters respond to electoral defeat” by Ben Rowen. The entire article is here.
“Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat decreased Republicans’ happiness twice as much as either the Boston Marathon bombing affected Bostonians’ happiness or the Newtown school shooting affected American parents’.
“Among men (but not women) who voted for a losing candidate, testosterone plummeted once the election was called, to a degree expected of actual contestants in a competition, rather than vicarious participants.”
“Over time, voters who supported losers were less likely than others to see the electoral process as fair. They also tended to be less satisfied with democracy generally.”
“John Kerry’s supporters rated their satisfaction with democracy 0.55 on a scale of 0-1, compared with George W. Bush supporters’ 0.77 rating.” That was in 2004.
“This disaffection is magnified when voters are startled by a loss. Among voters who backed losing candidates in Canada’s 1997 federal election, 72 percent of those who weren’t surprised remained satisfied with democracy, versus just 57 percent of those who were surprised – an important finding given that analysis of the 1952-80 and 2008 U.S. presidential elections that a solid majority of voters believe their candidate will win.”
“One body of research on decision making suggests that when you don’t care for your options, abstaining may be your best bet: Whether a choice is trivial (deciding between disliked pasta dishes, say) or serious (taking a baby off life support), people are most at peace with a negative outcome when they didn’t choose it themselves.”
This latter is not a good reason to stay away from the polls. I keep hearing that we have a right to vote. We do, but more importantly we have a RESPONSIBILITY to vote. Abstaining is what most Americans have been doing for years, which is why we are in the mess we are in.
So, Wednesday morning some of us will be low on testosterone, some of us will say the election was unfair (as Trump has been telling us for over a year), and some of us will believe less in democracy than before. But those folks should remember that this is a democracy they live in and next time around they may be the ones who win. In a democracy sometimes you win, sometimes you lose but at least you play the game.