Our Benighted Experiment In Universal Sufferage

Today is the day that Londoners vote on who we want to be Mayor; in previous Mayoral elections I’ve had a horse in the race, but this time Ken Livingston has been unable to keep his more odious opinions to himself and Boris Johnson continues to be a self-serving lizard creature, and I’m left with the option of either voting for that nice independent lady, or defacing my ballot paper (Paddick lost my vote when he wormily failed to give an opinion on whether or not Johnson did the right thing in withdrawing the “ex-gay” bus ads; Brian, you of all people I would expect to put your back behind the gay community).

Leaving aside my personal politics, however, this election has brought up an interesting question for me. How do you choose between two deeply unpleasant people? Assuming – falsely in this case – that one must vote for one or the other of a pair of people standing for an electoral position, let’s try this with a slightly analogous (although grossly exaggerated) pairing:

  1. Actions: over all citizens of their constituency, this candidate exercises what brings good, regardless of their wealth, race, or crime rates. They work to defend even the communities towards whom they have personal feelings of antipathy, and do not aim to privilege their own wealth. Words: Unfortunately, they have some kind of prejudice against the group of people you personally come from; this does not come through in his actions, as discussed, but in his public addresses he is snide or rude repeatedly about your specific group in ways which you definitely find offensive.
  2. Actions: this candidate seeks glory and wealth and preserves the money they give to their network of confiderates by depriving poverty-stricken areas. Their actions impact heavily on vulnerable people and, mysteriously, people who have voted against them in the past. Words: They are charming, affable, and evince whichever attitude sounds best. It is impossible to tell what they actually think, but they certainly always praise your personal group and are unlikely to ever show up on TV badmouthing you.

So who do you vote for? Of these caricatures – assuming nothing further about their policies, about their parties, about other matters: do you vote for the candidate whose actions benefit people but whose words insult and injure you, or do you vote for a candidate whose actions are to the detriment of many (including you) but whose words flatter and praise you?

Happily in reality this ridiculous choice does not exist in real life, and I am content to cast my lot in one of the other options that exist: after all, one can always spoil one’s ballot.


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