There’s a saying in most businesses, you can have it: Good. Cheap. Soon… pick any two.
Ideally, you want all three, right? But seeing as this isn’t an ideal world, presented with that choice most people will quickly decide what their priorities are. If you have money to spare, you may as well choose Good and Soon. If you need it Cheap and Good, you’ll wait.
How does this relate to voting? Well, I’m not saying that these different options represent different political parties; the analogy is about decision making.
So why are we so angry with people who vote differently to us?
Reason 1: Different Priorities
Votes are just decisions based on priorities. If someone makes a different decision to you, i.e. votes differently, this might mean they have different priorities.
The only problem is, their vote also affects you. They are making a choice based on what they want, which means that what YOU DON’T WANT might happen. No wonder it’s easy to get angry about this! It’s like someone else deciding what you’re going to have for dinner for the next four years, only much more serious.
Reason 2: Different Information
However, the idea that votes are purely based on priorities is slightly flawed. What if people are making their voting decisions on largely incomplete information?
What if, someone doesn’t know that one factor exists?
It doesn’t matter which one, but let’s say “Fast”.
Well, they are obviously going to always choose Good & Cheap.
What if you then choose Good & Fast?
You can see this:
But, person who isn’t aware of Fast can only see this:
They will think you’ve pointlessly chosen Good but Expensive; the information you’ve based your reasoning on isn’t available to them. They will think “This person is an idiot!” and you’ll think they are an idiot too, for not choosing Fast when it was available and clearly important!
This is the reaction we have when we see people voting based on ignorance. Brexit especially brought this out, as people voted Leave on the basis of totally wrong information, such as that the UK would have more money and a stronger economy. The greater the ignorance a vote is based on, the more anger it generates. “Doh! You just voted AGAINST yourself AND me!”
But ultimately, voting is not a simple problem, it’s a complex problem. The Good/Fast/Cheap model works best for simple problems such as the procurement of some printed flyers. There are definitely measurable variables, and a definite measurable answer.
Reason 3: Different Morals
The final reason we hate those who vote differently to us is because they often hold opinions that we actually believe to be amoral. Some people believe in giving equal financial opportunities, and some don’t. Some are in favour of demilitarisation, whilst others are strongly against. In both the examples given above, it’s possible for both sides to see the other as not just wrong, but damaging. Take the latter: both could righteously say to each other “So you want a war do you?”
In truth, politics is a complex problem with no clear answer. We disagree. We get angry because we disagree. We get angry usually because of injustice, but we disagree wildly on what injustice is. We’re like the housemates who always fight about the washing up, because although everyone agrees that the house should be kept clean and tidy, everyone has a different idea of what “clean and tidy” means. This is why we are angry, but also, why we have government.
To quote my favourite stand-up philosopher Matthew Hammond, “Even if we were a company of angels, without government, war would descend. Why? One simple reason: I am not you.”
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