A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Why you shouldn’t vote selfishly

Government is supposed to better society.  The decisions politicians make should be for the greater good, not just benefit a small handful of the population. Usually people agree that doing good for the large population is better than for just a minority. Yet, once a politician promises a political stance that favors them over many others, they immediately jump on the bandwagon and give them their full support, disregarding the blatant unfairness. This is the epitome of selfishness: putting oneself above everyone else. Voting for policies or politicians simply because the voter benefits is selfish and works against the democratic system.

  People are prone to “pocketbook voting,” or voting that is influenced by material self-interest. A study conducted during the Swedish parliamentary elections between 1994 and 1998 concluded that parents with young children were more likely to vote for the political party that promised to put a cap on child-care fees in order to reduce the child-care costs substantially. So, the people who were to benefit from voting for a candidate did vote for that candidate.

  Also, Donald Trump recently promised major tax cuts and a much lower cost of living for the average American during his recent run for the presidential election. This means those who rely on tax-funded organizations will not receive as much benefit as before the tax cuts. Despite a fairly even distribution of beliefs on this controversial subject, 53% of people with an income less than $50,000 voted in favor of an increase in welfare and versus the 41% above this income who voted in favor of tax cuts. Because they would benefit from voting for a candidate, that’s who they chose. But, this isn’t a very moralistic way of thinking.

  To make a democracy function effectively, people must vote for the best choice for EVERYONE. Not just oneself, but everyone. Our laws should be designed for the betterment of society rather than selfish and greedy notions that only benefit a few. It’s a very simple concept that we struggled with all the way back in kindergarten. It’s like not wanting to share toys with Timmy at recess. It’s just so obvious to see the morally right answer.

 Also, selfish voting increases political tension. When people vote selfishly, often they vote for extreme ends of the political spectrum, where politicians will promise a lot of benefits for only one side of the spectrum. This can polarize the voting pool, which creates political tension in society.

 During America’s most recent presidential election, there were two candidates on fairly distant sides of the political spectrum competing against each other. This led to some of the most tense political environments in American history. Selfish voting causes this. When each side is voting for extreme ends of the spectrum, there tends to be a large amount of disagreement, resulting in the extreme political tension that occurred in the last election.

  People must vote altruistically to solve society’s problems and create a future built around the needs of everyone, not just the selfish few.