Over at Would You Have Voted for this Society? Mr. Doom wrote a comment, which I have included in full below.
"I agree that in no western country did the people actually vote for the kinds of social changes we've seen in the past half century. And to a large extent these changes were implemented by stealth or in a dishonest and deceptive manner.
On the other hand voters could have taken a stand against such disastrous changes. There have always been alternatives to the major political parties. OK, not always great alternatives, but voters have always had the option of registering a protest by abandoning their traditional allegiances to the parties that have betrayed them. And the voters have steadfastly refused to do so. They have maintained their sheep-like devotion to the major political parties. Even when an alternative was on offer (as was the case with UKIP in the recent British election),
Many people have been excited by the level of support that nationalist parties have attracted in Europe in recent years but what is really surprising to me is just how few people actually vote for these alternatives. In not a single country has such a party even come close to gaining real power.
This suggests either an extraordinary degree of voter apathy, or perhaps outright defeatism. Or even just a total lack of awareness of what is happening."
He raises some very important points and I would like to address them.
Why do people keep voting for the same political parties?
I believe that there are a few reasons why.
Real Life Concerns
No other real option
Lets look at each in turn
When voting people are voting for someone to represent them, on various issues. In most cases they have never meet any of the candidates and so they must vote according to the purported believes of a particular party. They rarely, if ever get to vote on single issues. They must try to vote for a candidate who will broadly support their believes. That makes it hard for single issues to get traction, because they must compete with other issues that are just as important. Many people vote not on conviction that this is the best candidate from the best party, but because they fear the consequences of their opponents gaining power.
Real Life Concerns
Many political issues are abstract, real life however has a way of being anything but abstract. People, quite rightly, need to look after themselves in the here and now. Unfortunately that means that voting tends to be about short term concerns. So for example it's not so much about tax policy and how much the Government needs, but instead becomes about tax rates, how much am I paying and can I pay less? Politicians often encourage this, because they are also thinking short term. Real life concerns stop people from thinking about deep issues, as they have more immediate issues to deal with. Will I keep my job? Does that girl love me? Why isn't my child sleeping at night? Whats wrong with my arm, it hurts for no reason? Real life, all of these things are legitimate things to worry about and they get in the way of things that are also real life issues. Big issues that need to be dealt with, Immigration for example.
The fear of a bad economy is huge, people live in constant fear of the economy. I can never remember a time when the economy wasn't an issue. When people didn't fear it. It stops many people from changing how they vote, because of fear. They need their job and they know that their a plenty of unemployed already. How would they pay for the house, pay their bills, look after themselves and their family? The fear that the economy will go bad is very real, becomes from time to time it does exactly that.
People often vote the way they do because they want to fit in, all my family votes for x, all my friends support x, then so should I. Many people vote a certain way because they have always voted that way. They joined and stayed loyal, even though the party that they are loyal to does not return that loyalty.
No Other Real Option
At the last Australian Federal Election my vote went to Labor, I didn't vote for Labor but thats were my vote ended up. Australia has a preferential voting system, that means that you number all the candidates from your favourite candidate to your least favourite candidate in order. In my electorate, the safest Labor seat in Australia, there were 9 candidates, 4 right of centre, 1 Liberal, 1 Labor, 1 Green,1 Socialist and 1 from the Animal Justice Party and right there is the order in which I voted, Labor in 6th place. So how did my vote end up with them? If your first preference doesn't win, then your vote goes to your second preference and it just keeps doing that until only two candidates are left. Those two candidates then receive all of the votes. In nearly every electorate in Australia the two parties are the Liberals and Labor, in my electorate it's Labor and the Greens.
In a first past the post system unless you vote for the winner you may as well not have bothered to vote.There is no perfect voting system, they all have limitations. But it means that just voting isn't enough. Why were there 4 right of centre parties, each by themselves was nothing special, but together, even in a left wing electorate, they don't win but they get pretty respectable numbers. In more Conservative electorates they would win, if they didn't split their share of the votes. But if they won they would need to have competent policies and candidates. To be honest I feel that these parties are more anti than pro, they know what they are against but they are not so certain of what they are for. And to be frank thats not enough.
The truth is that the options just aren't that good in most cases.
I must disagree with you on one point Mr. Doom, UKIP did splendidly in the last elections, 11 millions votes is fantastic. Only winning 1 seat is unfortunate, but remember that is a 100% improvement on their position in the last Parliament. They are in a great position to do more in the future. My one concern is that they are not a Conservative party any more than the Conservative Party is, but if I was in the UK I would vote for them, I might even have joined. They are a ray of sunshine in a very dark sky.
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