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Politics 2.0: Hack the Vote

Politics 2.0: Hack the Vote

Hack the Vote

    On Election Day, millions of people will go to the polls and vote for either Republican candidate John McCain or Democratic candidate Barack Obama. And they will do so for the wrong reasons. Instead of voting for the candidate on the ballot who would best represent their views, they will vote for McCain or Obama because they fear that if they don’t vote for one of them, they will help the wrong guy win. They will vote based not on their beliefs, but based on their fears.

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    This is both unfortunate and unnecessary because in spite of its numerous fundamental flaws, the American political system provides voters with an outlet by which to express their preferences about policies and political philosophies. Unfortunately, many of us will waste this precious opportunity on Election Day by voting for a candidate who do not represent our views. Of course, if Obama or McCain do represent your views better than any of the other candidates, then you should vote for one of them. I fear, though, that this is not the case for most voters. American voters deserve better.

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    One of the great things about Presidential elections is that they attract candidates from across the ideological spectrum. There are many, many alternatives, and regardless of your political persuasion there is likely to be a candidate out there for you. In the internet age, it takes minimal effort to find out who is running and what they stand for. You might find that you most closely agree with Cynthia McKinney. Or Bob Barr. Or Ralph Nader.  Or Chuck Baldwin. Or Lobsterman. Or even John McCain or Barack Obama. Regardless, you should vote for the candidate who most closely represents what you believe in without worrying about whether your non-traditional vote will help “the wrong guy” win.

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    In addition, looking at standings in national polls is the wrong way to decide because of the Electoral College. What matters is the race in your state of residence and people’s estimates of what will happen there. In my state, Tennessee, the prediction markets at www.intrade.com are predicting an 80-90% chance that McCain will win Tennessee, where I live. They are making a similar prediction about Obama’s chances of winning California. To take just two examples, it is virtually certain that McCain will carry Tennessee and Obama will carry California. For that matter, McCain is a virtual lock to take the entire South while Obama is a virtual lock to take most of the Northeast and the West Coast. When you vote, you can safely treat these outcomes as foregone conclusions. You can rest comfortably with the knowledge that your vote will not have any bearing on the final choice.

    The probability that your vote will affect the outcome of the Presidential election is, for all intents and purposes, zero. For your vote to be decisive, the election has to be decided by fewer electoral votes than your state represents, and your state then has to be decided by exactly one vote. Even in Florida in 2000, a single vote would not have mattered. If I remember correctly, George W. Bush won the state by 166 votes. An additional vote for Al Gore would have meant that Bush won by 165 votes. An additional vote for Bush would have meant that Bush won by 167 votes. An additional vote for Ralph Nader or Patrick Buchanan or any of the other candidates would have meant that Bush won by 166 votes.

    When we go into the polling booth, we should take others’ votes as given and then vote our consciences, knowing full well that our individual votes will not make a difference with respect to the outcome of the election. Paradoxically, this is extremely liberating because it removes the strictures of choice in a two-party system, opens up a world of possibilities, and elevates the level of political discussion.

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    Last Updated on December 30, 2018

    How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic Throughout the Day

    How to Become an Early Riser and Stay Energetic Throughout the Day

    This article is the 2nd in the 6-part series, Lifehack Challenge: Become An Early Riser In 5 Days.

    If you’d like to become an early riser, there are some things you should know before you run off to set your oft-ignored alarm clock.

    So how to become an early riser?

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    Here are five tips I’ve discovered to be most helpful in making the transition from erratic sleeper to early morning wizard:

    1. Choose to get up before you go to sleep

    You’re not very good at making decisions when you’ve just woken up. You were in the middle of a dream in which [insert celebrity crush of choice here] is serving you breakfast in bed only to be rudely awakened by the harsh tones of your alarm clock. You’re frustrated, angry, confused, and surprised. This is not the time to be making decisions about whether or not you should stay in bed! And yet, most of us leave the first decision of our day to be made in a blur of partial wakefulness.

    No more! If you want to be a consistently early riser, try making your decision to rise at a specific time before you go to sleep the night before. This frees you from making the decision in the morning when you’ve just woken up. Instead of making a decision, you have only to follow through on your decision from the night before. Easier said than done? Of course. But only for the first few times. Eventually your need for raw willpower to get out of bed will diminish and you’ll be the proud parent of a new habit!

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    Steve Pavlina suggests you practice getting out of bed during the day[1] to get a few of the “practice sessions” out of the way without the early morning fog in your head.

    2. Have a plan for your extra time

    Let’s say you’ve actually made it out of bed 2 hours before you normally would. Now what? What are you going to do with all this time you’ve discovered in your day? If you don’t have something planned to do with your extra time, you risk falling for the temptation of a “morning nap” that wipes out all the work you put into getting up.

    What to do? Before you go to bed, make a quick note of what you’d like to get done during your extra hours the following day. Do you have a book to write, paper to read, or garage to clean? Make a plan for your early hours and you’ll do more than protect yourself from backsliding into bed. You’ll get things done and those results will fuel your desire to build rising early into a habit!

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    3. Make rising early a social activity

    While there’s obvious value in joining a Lifehack Challenge in order to get you started as an early riser, your internet buddies just don’t have enough pull to make your new habit stick in the long term. The same cannot be said for the people you spend time with as part of your early morning routine.

    Sure, you could choose to read blogs for two hours every morning. But wouldn’t it be great to join an early breakfast club, running group, or play chess in the park at 5am? The more people you get involved in making your new habit a daily part of your life, the easier it’ll be to succeed.

    4. Don’t use an alarm that makes you angry

    If we’re all wired differently, why do we all insist on torturing ourselves with the same sort of alarm each morning? I spent years trying to wake up before my alarm went off so I wouldn’t have to hear it. I got pretty good, too. Then I started using a cellphone as my alarm clock and quickly realized that different ring tones irritated me less but worked just as well to wake me up. I now use the ring tone alarm as a back up for my bedside lamp plugged in to a timer.

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    When the bright light doesn’t work, the cellphone picks up the slack and I wake up on time. The lesson learned? Experiment a bit and see what works best for you. Light, sound, smells, temperature, or even some contraption that dumps water on you might be more pleasant than your old alarm clock. Give something new a try!

    5. Get your blood flowing right after waking

    If you don’t have a neighbor you can pick fights with at 5am you’ll have to settle with a more mundane exercise. It doesn’t take much to get your blood flowing and chase the sleep from your head. Just pick something you don’t mind doing and go through the motions until your heart rate is up. Jumping rope, push-ups, crunches, or a few minutes of yoga are typically enough to do the trick. (Just don’t do anything your doctor hasn’t approved.)

    If you live in a beautiful part of the world like me, you might want to use a bit of your early morning to go for a walk and enjoy the beauty of the world around you. If you have a coffee shop open within walking distance, dragging yourself out of bed for a cup of coffee to savor on your walk home as the world wakes around you is a wonderful experience. Try it!

    More Resources for an Energetic Morning

    Featured photo credit: Frank Vex via unsplash.com

    Reference

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