Tag Archives: democracy
The act of voting can be a confusing process, but understanding how people vote has been defined and shared by a guest lecturer.
Zlatan Krizan, associate professor of psychology at Iowa State University, discussed the reality of voting predictability in his talked titled, “Wishful Thinking in Political Elections,” on Oct. 18.
Many can honestly say that they vote the way their family and friends vote. According to Krizen, as humans, we surround ourselves with like-minded people.
“Voting, today, is ultimately social behavior,” Krizan said. “It’s not some sort of isolated incident, it requires people. Voting and who you vote is driven by learned behaviors and social beliefs.”
Another behavior Krizen noticed about voters was the fact that they “are never dispassionate about the future.”
“We always have ideas of what will make a better or worse future,” Krizen said. “So when we predict things, we have an idea of where we want the future to go.”
Hitting on the titled subject of “wishful thinking,” Krizen touches on how correlation does not always equal causation in voting.
“While it is an absolute fact that there is a link between preference and expectation, preferences are not indicative of expectation,” Krizen said.
Krizen worked with the 2010 California marijuana legalization initiative, which initially failed, to measure the correlation between expectation and level of knowledge.
While polling before the November vote, the number of supporters expecting the law to pass was higher than those against the law.
However, as time closed in on the deadline, those against the legalization of marijuana maintained their expectation of the measure failing, while those who supported the measure started to lower their expectation for the measure passing.
“If you want to find an agreement between those in favor and those who are opposed, basically those who are in favor and have higher knowledge eventually become pretty neutral. And those who are against and have lower knowledge ended up in the same place,” Krizen said.
Krizen also determined the most change in support happens during the month of October, prior to the voting deadline.
It is during this time, when polls see a switch from high support to having doubt towards their stance.
“What we see over and over again is that for expectations, we think things are going to go our way, even when they really won’t,” Krizen said.
Krizen’s work has proven that campaigns really do matter. While they don’t necessarily change the minds of voters, it increases expectations.
Kaylyn Peterson / Managing editor
Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at email@example.com.
Democracy is not possible in America, our votes do not matter and bigger is not always better. At least, this is all true according to Susan McWilliams, an award-winning professor from Pomona College who spoke to students and staff May 7 in Jonasson Hall.
“We are too god damn big,” McWilliams said. “Democracy is not suited to big regimes like our own.”
McWilliams began the lecture with a political joke from the election of 1952 and continued on with more throughout the lecture to lighten the subject at hand.
“Virtually all Americans have trouble describing what a positive democracy looks like,” McWilliams said.
Depicting the similarities of the Tea Party and the Occupy Movement, McWilliams said that both groups give a negative sense of what democracy looks like, but are unable to depict what a healthy democracy would appear as.
To begin to explain healthy democracy, McWilliams explained that Americans learn at a young age that voting is the right way to get things done by taking votes at the playground.
“God dammit we are Americans and we are going to vote for what the right decision is,” McWilliams said. “[However}, while the extension of voting rights have made this a more democratic nation in a formal sense, we become more informally concerned.”
Although most Americans would agree that voting is important, McWilliams points out that voting is only meaningful if we are presented with meaningful choices. The problem that follows this is that Americans know our votes don’t matter.
According to McWilliams, democracy depends on people feeling known and important. This can only happen in small states or regimes, as America is too big for it to function properly.
“Come to Linfield, everyone knows who you are and we know that matters,” McWilliams said. “Human beings are engineered in living in smaller communities.”
The idea that we need to feel important and heard is a point that McWilliams reiterated throughout the lecture. Through smaller communities, people are able to have a louder voice and feel as though they matter as a person, as well as have a vote that matters.
“[We need to] not be afraid of small communities,” McWilliams said. “When you have the experience of mattering, you don’t give it up.”
McWilliams referenced liberal arts colleges as a good example of mattering through the idea that people do not focus enough on college’s civic functions.
“They train people to be good and active citizens,” McWilliams said. “We learn how to matter [and] have the ability to affect other people.”
McWilliams also said why she felt liberal arts colleges
were important to society.
“What makes liberal arts colleges so special and so important is that they are in fact counter cultural,” McWilliams said. “It is precisely in their smallness that gives them their power.”
Quoting political theorist Sheldon Wolin, McWilliams explained that the best we might be able to achieve is spaces of fugitive democracy, moments and places where we can cultivate the habits of democratic life, and in so doing, cultivate an oasis of engaged citizenry.
“In this large, mobile and impersonal society of this United states, democracy is never going to be the dominant thing,” McWilliams said.
Samantha Sigler/News editor
With college students constantly being reminded they are “leaders of the future” and put under the pressure of undertaking great political responsibilities, it is imperative that college boards and higher education leaders instill the right examples and messages for students to follow.
That is why the collegiate debate topic for this year is corruption of education. The official Cross-Examination Debate Association topic for this debate season is that “the United States’ Federal Government should substantially increase its democracy assistance in one or more of the following: Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen.”
For those who don’t follow speech and debate, this essentially means that for the rest of the academic year, all college debate teams in America will be arguing that the American government should be promoting and enforcing democracy in the specific middle eastern countries listed. And that, my friends, is a true pity.
With America’s foreign democracy track record, the last thing that needs to be ingrained into the minds of college debaters is the idea that America should continue its incessant attempts at initiating democracy wherever it possibly can because it hasn’t been rather successful.
As Americans, we also tend to have convenient definitions of democracy. The meaning can shift to meet the needs of the time, so that we can innocently state that we are entering Iraq, Chile or Haiti to spread “democracy,” when really there are alternative motives.
Unfortunately, most Americans, especially the youth of the nation, are blind to this problem because the United States, as a culture and a country, has a severe case of historical amnesia.
Forgetting about those less glamorous battles fought, America instead focuses on the glory of our successes and the beauty of this flawless idea we call democracy. The United States makes footnotes in its history whenever something doesn’t quite go its way, allowing the younger generations to wear blinders, shielding them from any shaky decisions or questionable outcomes that America has met.
A prime example could be from 1973, when America funded a coup in Chile, debatably supporting the assassination of their president. This led to the overtaking of the country via destructive dictator, who exiled more than one million Chileans, not to mention beat and killed thousands.
Chile is still recovering. Needless to say, this devastating event was a hugely significant part of their history, yet a footnote, if even that, in America’s history.
In similar terms of democracy, America has set burdens on Nicaragua, Haiti and probably most popularly, Iraq. While the events in Iraq can be a touchy subject, the fact is that we can’t handle a lack of control. We entered Iraq claiming it to be a “war on terror,” but when that didn’t follow through, it became a “democracy promotion.” Yet, when the country finally voted a leader in, the U.S. Federal Government decided that they didn’t like him and quickly replaced him. That is not democracy.
While democracy may work well for the established system in America, it has been proven time and time again that the United States’s idea of democracy assistance is a steadfast route to international problems.
By having this topic be analyzed and researched by college students, it may help a handful of “the future’s leaders” to understand the past leaders’ mistakes. But by promoting democracy, the mass Democracy-as-a-positive-influence continuum is only being furthered. It’s a disgrace to education and a step in the wrong direction for college students nation-wide.
Andra Kovacs/News editor
Andra Kovacs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.