Hoping for tight shoes and a little anger
HOW TO VOTE
City voters still have until Tuesday to return their ballots, which should have been received in the mail in mid-March. At this point, completed ballots should be dropped off at the City Clerk’s Office in City Hall, 101 W. Eighth St. For voting information, call the city clerk at 384-6403.
My Political Science 101 professor said something that has stuck with me through the decades since of watching and covering political campaigns: “Democracy works when the shoe pinches.”
He attributed it to a great thinker, and more than once, I’ve scoured the Internet looking for the quote. As best I can figure, my professor himself was distilling the philosopher John Dewey paraphrasing Felix Adler.
The average person “knows better than anyone else … where the shoes pinch on his own feet; and because it is the individual that knows his own troubles … every individual must be consulted in such a way, actively not passively, that he himself becomes a part of the process of authority …”
Voting, Dewey wrote, was the best device to accomplish this.
But what drives people to vote? A 2011 University of Michigan study found that anger is the most significant motivator.
Researchers “used an ‘emotion-induction task’ to heighten specific emotional states in a group of participants who were assigned three conditions: anger, anxiety and enthusiasm. They were asked to recall and write about something that caused them to experience a specific emotion during the last presidential campaign. They were also asked about their political participation based on five actions: wearing a campaign button, volunteering for a campaign, attending a rally, talking to others or donating money.
“Anger boosted participation by nearly one-third for each of these five behaviors, while anxiety and enthusiasm did not.”
All of this is bad news for a content society, so campaign managers know they must stir emotions. If you wonder why so often campaigns resort to negative ads, it’s because they work — repeated often enough, their messages stir anger and make people think their shoes are pinching, or might soon pinch.
Civically oriented types encourage people to vote out of privilege and duty to their communities, but these tend to be poor motivators.
People vote in presidential elections, mostly, and with less frequency in off-year, municipal and school elections.
Maybe this thought will stir some anger: It is an indisputable fact that the winners of elections do not need support from a majority of those they will represent. They just need more support from those who were motivated to vote.
Glenwood Springs faces a number of important and complex issues in the next four years — actually, it faces them right away. Glenwood residents have today and Tuesday to have a say in who advocates and decides these issues. Voters have good candidates from whom to choose in the at-large and Ward 1 races. May your shoes feel tight.
We run our last election letters today and look forward to learning the results Tuesday evening, then look forward to seeing the council move forward to help this great town realize more of its potential.
Randy Essex is editor of the Post Independent.
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