As divisive as the political landscape is today, many people will probably say, yes, those who voted for candidates other than those who voted have a bad choice. People don’t think they made bad choices at the ballot box. They think other people have done it.

Two things stand out against any claim that voters like badly.

First, voters choose as individuals how they will vote. One person’s vote will not affect the outcome of the election, if the number of voters is too small. Consider your own vote. If you had voted for Joe Biden in the last presidential election, who would be president today? If you voted for Donald Trump in the last presidential election, who would be president? And if you don’t vote at all, who will be the president? The answer to three questions is: Joe Biden.

Of course, all the votes cast together determine the outcome of the election. But each voter has only one vote and that vote does not affect the outcome of the election. In this case, it is difficult to argue that a voter is making a bad choice, when the voter’s vote has no consequences.

Second, any argument that some voters have made a bad choice is based on an assumption of how things would be different if an election turned out differently. We can see what actually happened. We can only guess what would have happened if the election results had gone the other way.

At the national level, Trump supporters would argue that with rising inflation, a catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the war in Ukraine and the ongoing epidemic policy, things would have been much better if President Trump had been re-elected. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

There is no way to tell who is right about this. We know exactly what happened, but what would have happened if the election results had been different. Neither side can draw on the actual information to present their argument.

When voters show up to vote, they choose how to cast their ballots. Individuals do not influence election results. They make choices that make them feel best — and it’s hard to say that they’re making bad choices.

Reprinted from Independent Institute

Randall G. Hallcomb

Randall G. Hallcomb

Randall G. Holcombe is a Divo Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. He received his Ph.D. From Virginia Tech to Economics, and taught at Texas A&M University and Auburn University before moving to Florida State in 1988. Dr. Hallcomb is a Senior Fellow at the James Madison Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California.

Dr. Holcomb is the author of over twenty books and over 200 articles published in academic and professional journals. His books are included Political capitalism: how economic and political power is created and maintained (2018) and Coordination, Cooperation and Control: The Evolution of Economic and Political Power (2020).

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