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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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    Art Carden

    Art Carden is an Assistant Professor of Economics and Business at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee.

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2020

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

    How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them

    Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

    Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

    Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

    Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination.

    1. Make a List of Your Goal Destinations

    Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.

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    So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

    Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

    If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

    2. Think About the Time Frame to Have the Goal Accomplished

    This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

    Learn the differences between a short term goal and a long term goal. Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.

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    3. Write Down Your Goals Clearly

    Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

    For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

    4. Write Down What You Need to Do for Each Goal

    Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

    These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

    5. Write Down Your Timeframe With Specific and Realistic Dates

    Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.

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    For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

    Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

    6. Schedule Your To-Dos

    Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

    Write these action points on a schedule, you have definite dates on which to do things.

    7. Use Your Reticular Activating System to Get Your Goal

    Learn in this Lifehack’s vlog how you can hack your brain with the Reticular Activation System (RAS) and reach your goal more efficiently:

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    8. Review Your Progress

    At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

    Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

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    Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via unsplash.com

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