Voting for people harms people

post by CraigMichael · 2021-10-28T08:29:13.075Z · LW · GW · 6 comments

So, look, The Culture War totally sucks, right? I mean, really, it more than sucks. I've put it this way before:

The Culture War is The Nothing. (If you're an American and you're not sure what The Nothing is, I'm probably envious of your youth. You should know the 80s were cool and The NeverEnding Story was part of what made it that way.)

The Nothing was a force that ate imagination. The Culture War eats up our opportunities to talk about things other than The Culture War. Some of those conversation topics may be important, or fun, or interesting or other bomb-ass adjectives. I really feel like I'm missing out on the kinds of conversations I had all the way back in 2010. The quality of my life has been significantly diminished by this. Am I alone here? 

What if people pledged to stop voting for people? You could still vote for initiatives, referendums, amendments and all that, those are basically ideas. What you can't vote for are people because, right now, those people are proxies for waring tribes

In this way, if someone tries to engage you in a candidate- or party-related culture war topic, the conversation might go like this:

You: "Uhh... sorry if this is awkward, but, look, I took this pledge to not to vote for people. So you can talk with me about this if you want to, but I'm not going to vote for [insert person or party here] or against [insert person or party here] because I don't vote for people anymore." 

Voter: "Why?"

You: "The Culture War is causing humans harm and I don't want to be part of something that causes humans harm if I can avoid it. The Culture War is centered around candidates so I'm not voting for candidates. There may be some harm-reduction a vote could hypothetically contribute to, but it's unlikely my vote will make a difference one way or another, so I'm more concerned about the harm caused from culture war externalities. If The Culture War goes away, or becomes substantially less harmful, maybe I'll go back to voting again."

(It would be nice to cinch this with a smart contract or Beeminderish thing. I can't really think of how that would work, but if you have ideas let me know. In lieu of that maybe go old-school and write an affidavit and get it notarized. Both would require some good enough quantification of culture war levels to be meaningful.)

So this would (1) Draw attention to the harm caused by The Culture War (2) open up the possibility to talk about anything else. What are your hobbies? Do you like toy-collecting? Do you like Star Wars? In like 2019 the French made lightsaber fighting an official sport and I just now heard about it. Are you worried about near-Earth orbiting objects? I am. 

Even just typing that italicized text made me feel better. We could live in that world again. We could just talk about whatever again.

In the 80s and 90s we made 'whatever' a cliché interjection, and there's some irony that what I crave the most right now is an increase in the whateverness of the dialectic. 

That's all I have to say about that.

[Note: The title might be more appropriately be worded "Voting for Americans harms Americans," as, while it may apply to other countries, I think the two-party incentives here in the USA make it especially bad. It's also likely that voting for Americans wasn't always harmful to Americans, but my guess is it has been since, say, 2015. ]

6 comments

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comment by David_Gross · 2021-10-28T12:14:16.705Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

No need to stop at not voting for people. Voting in general fuels the madness. Please stop voting: You’re just making things worse.

Replies from: CraigMichael
comment by CraigMichael · 2021-10-28T19:56:23.391Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Your Medium article is really excellent--of course, I've recently become biased. Up until now, I'm someone who voted religiously in every election. I think this November will be the first time I'll leave some bubbles empty. 

Did you think about cross-posting your Medium article here? I believe it's a very serious question as to when voting does more harm than good, and it seems like this would be the kind rationalist/EA types would be interested in the answer, and there seems to be an unwillingness to discuss it. (I would take the bit about the Kennedy assassination out). 

Replies from: steven0461
comment by steven0461 · 2021-10-30T02:25:21.341Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

The harms described in these articles mostly arise from politicization associated with voting rather than from the act of voting itself. If you focused on that politicization, without asking people to give up their direct influence on which candidates were elected, I think there'd be much less unwillingness to discuss.

comment by greylag · 2021-10-28T11:37:24.360Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

If you think we‘ve got too much Culture War, vote for people/policies/things that in your opinion will diminish the Culture War (give or take other values, obviously).

(This is a consequentialist argument)

Replies from: CraigMichael
comment by CraigMichael · 2021-10-28T18:52:57.788Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

That’s not possible.

Imagine watching people a game play a game of tug-of-war between teams representing the left and the right, it’s like regular tug-of-war except the ropes can become infinitely long and at any point the members of the audience can jump in and join their favorite team if their side is losing (or can go at punch someone on the winning side if they’d prefer).

When you say “pick the side of the tug-of-war that will stop the tug-of-war” it tells me that you don’t understand the game that’s being played. No one involved wants to stop it, and there’s a nearly inexhaustible set of audience members on either side.

You need to stop people from participating in the intrinsically harmful game and get them to play a pro-social one. The only way you can do that is to say “I’m not playing in the tug-of-war” and if you get enough people to do that, you deprive the game of the resources it needs to continue and can change the game.

comment by Viliam · 2021-10-29T20:47:43.838Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

In Switzerland, voting for ideas is legal. Just saying.