Blog: OOBs of Electoral Logic

OOBs of Electoral Logic
OOBs of Electoral Logic
Date: 2019-Feb-03 19:07:40 EST

Two things that have been floating around in my head to talk about:

  • The out-of-bounds of electoral logic
  • The problem with conspiracist logic
On the first, I think there are a number of values we should hold, as participants in a democracy, that rule out simple consequentialist judgement. By which I mean that such judgements are considered laughable, not that people trying to make such judgements are muzzled (we believe in free speech, after all, but not the equal regard of all views). There are two sides to democracy - people live in society, learn about and elaborate their values, and debate others to whatever extent they want while engaging in any protests they want. When a poll comes up, they might or might not sharpen their research on the specific topics, then they may choose to go vote using whatever criteria they see fit on how to cast their vote (although it should be about what they see is best for society, and we reject both efforts to directly offer them payment for their vote or to have them prove any particular vote as these would interfere with the meaning of the vote by letting private power enter into it). When they emerge from the poll, they return to their lives, and the poll may or may not change society, but their hands are washed of responsibility for it. On the other side, people who feel they want to get much more involved and divert their lives and careers further can stand for office (if eligible), run, and win or lose. That act is also divorced from raw consequentialism - what entry would do to the race can be a downstream effect but people don't have moral responsibility for entering or not; the process washes those concerns away. As such, I reject efforts to punish or shame voters for how they vote or what strategies they use, as well as efforts to punish or shame candidates for entering the race. I am at times regretful when ineffective candidates (e.g. Hillary) enter the race, but I don't resent their decision to enter so much as hope they lose quickly.

On the latter, the societal failing that I see fueling a lot of conspiracy theories is a desire for meaning in life that's hard to find in modern society. Some of this is fueled by our false-sugar-like substitute - the worlds of fantasy we build in novels. These give us peeks into realities that are more interesting than ours (or at least more interesting than the immediate surroundings of most humans). If we're good at separating these worlds of fantasy, just like with bizarre and disturbing fetishes, it's harmless. Some slim portion of society is not so good at that, which is not sufficient to ban the fantasy (we'd honestly need to pass a very, very high bar to ban or even hope to stifle fantsies), but gives us people who view reality using the judgement they've built from reading spy novels. I don't criticise the romantic spirit or the search for meaning, but I think the best results of this comes from the tension between that desire and a realisation that reality itself won't accommodate our desires so we need to build these worlds of meaning within ourselves; the conspiracy theorist is missing that.