Those of us interested and involved in politics are a small, and growing smaller, minority.
Some of us are sufficiently engaged to support a party. We do that for various reasons among which, I hope, is that its principles and philosophy are similar to our own and we agree with some, but rarely if ever all, of its policies.
Some people aren’t involved but still support and vote for a particular party. Others vote on a single issue or because they have a cause they want furthered.
But what of people, possibly the majority, who aren’t interested in politics and don’t have a cause? Why do they vote?
Maybe this explains it:
I accept that your vote has almost no chance of deciding the outcome. . .
For this reason, nobody votes hoping that his vote will change the outcome. We vote instead because we like to feel involved, out of a sense of duty, or – importantly – to avoid being criticised by our friends and loved ones. These motives are enough to get about half of us out to the polls, but not enough to persuade us to engage in pointless research into the details of each candidate’s policy platform. All of which explains why many people vote, but few do so in an informed fashion.
None of this changes the fact that democracy is useless without a decent number of voters.
The challenge then is to get people interested enough to be informed and better still involved.
The best way to do that is to have good policy which is also good politics.
The easiest way to do it is to appeal to self-interest through promising rewards or with scare tactics about the alternatives.
Is it just coincidence that I’m thinking this in the wake of the news that New Zealand First may be making a comeback?
Hat Tip: Skeptic Lawyer for the quote from the Undercover Economist.