The Crazies of Politics

CraziesEach political party has their Crazies, those who possess worldviews wholly unconstrained by reality.  Crazies surface within all political parties and persuasions, and I’ve observed numerous examples.  I feel a strong urge to describe them, and I will do this in a non-partisan manner.

In the United States there are two dominant political parties: Democrats and Republicans. I’ll leave it to the historians and political scientists to lay out the origins and the evolution of these two political entities, but my focus in this post is on the Crazies.  First, some context.

Most registered voters in this country claim an association with either the Democrats or the Republicans. Depending upon which poll you believe, a growing number of registered voters refuse to identify their party affiliation.  Some of these people call themselves independents which means they prefer no party affiliation.  Relatively few people associate with one of the so-called minor political parties which ironically includes the Independent Party, among many others.  The varying voter registration practices in the states, territories, and in the District of Columbia cause some confusion regarding party affiliation.

In some states, like Florida, a voter is registered as either a Republican, a Democrat, as a member of one of the other minor parties, or as having no political party affiliation.  In these states, voters in primary elections only vote in their own party’s primary.  Registered voters affiliated with a party may switch parties prior to an election as long as this is done by an established deadline.

In other states, such as Illinois, voters register without designating any party affiliation, and they are free to vote in either party’s primary, and for any candidate they choose as long as they don’t vote on more than one ballot in each election.  In these states, voters don’t truly “belong” to a political party and it is difficult to assign them to one except by their own admission.  The political parties pay attention to who votes in each primary and target their membership and fund-raising activities based upon observed voting preferences.

The lack of a designated party affiliation creates chaotic outcomes in some primary elections where one party has a hotly contested race, but the other party does not. This often results in an advantage to incumbents who are not opposed in their own primary elections.  Their supporters are free to vote in the other party’s primary.  This allows potential mischief such as voting for and ultimately nominating the perceived weaker candidate of the opposition party.  But, this is an issue for another day.

Each party exploits the existence of the Crazies in the other party in order to demonize their opposition, asserting that the entire party is a bunch of Crazies of one type or another. It is my belief that most people and the vast majority of voters in each party are responsible citizens trying to elect the very best representatives to serve the people.  Nevertheless, the Crazies do exist.

As I’ve written before, I don’t particularly like labels that unfairly characterize entire groups of people. By admission, these are caricatures which by definition exaggerate certain qualities in order to make a point.  Nevertheless, I will undertake this excursion into political folly, and ask that you forgive me if what I present unfairly describes anyone you know.

Who Are These Crazies?

Low Information Voters – These are people who vote based upon an emotional attachment to a candidate, a party, or someone of influence over them.  They may be so busy or distracted in their own lives that they do not pay any attention to the issues or to any of the candidates.  They might be lazy, disinterested, or unmotivated.  Perhaps they are human lemmings following their own crowd unaware of the consequences.  “Whatever!”  “Who cares?”  “My mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.”  They can vote for Republicans, Democrats, or anyone else since they are not constrained by any principles or ideology.  They vote based upon their feelings, or they vote the way they are told to vote, and then they go on with their lives.

Zealots – These voters may absorb and believe vast amounts of information about their particular candidates or parties, but they do not choose to evaluate it rationally or dispassionately.  Furthermore, what they believe or think they know about any opposition candidate or party is unencumbered by the facts.  They often demonstrate that dangerous combination of ignorance and arrogance.  Changing their minds is an impossibility, and they will likely demonize or attempt to silence anyone who dares to disagree with them.

Bigots – These people base their votes primarily upon the gender, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or some other personal characteristics unrelated to the qualifications of candidates’ competence to serve in public office. They often deny their biases and project their prejudices onto those who oppose their favored candidates.

Crusaders – Some people focus almost exclusively on one issue or cause.  This manifests as a litmus test for discerning how to vote.  Such people decide how to vote based solely upon whether their cause is supported or likely to be advanced by a candidate or party.  All other issues are ignored or considered unimportant.  They are devoted exclusively to their cause.

Alarmists – These are people who have exaggerated fears driving their voting preferences.  They have irrational concerns that electing a particular candidate or party will have cataclysmic consequences for their area, state, the country, or indeed for the entire world.

Advocates – Some organizations pressure or influence their members to vote in a manner that is consistent with their special interests.  The members of the organization make voting decisions based upon a sense of responsibility or loyalty to the organization or to the industry the organization represents.

Extremists – these are people who will do anything to win an election. They will vote multiple times, alter ballots, steal ballots, duplicate ballots, and even stuff ballot boxes if they can get away with it.  They will threaten and intimidate others in order to achieve the ends which justify their means.  They demonize the opposition, they lie, cheat, steal, even murder if that will further their cause or their candidates.

In this exposé of political Crazies, I’ve been careful to avoid examples, but they are numerous and exist among both Republicans and Democrats, as well as in the other parties and among independents. The Crazies harm our country.  It is up to each of us to discipline ourselves so that we don’t end up being one of the Crazies.

About DocStephens

Retired college professor of science and mathematics, academic administrator, and president (emeritus).
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