Voting is the ultimate test of ego. After all, who would cast their vote after coldly considering its mathematical scale. In this present municipal exercise, there are 1139000 eligible voters in the Montréal elections. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that your solitary vote will have a negligible effect on the end result. In that context, those who decide to stay home on election day are pursing a far more logical strategy than those who participate. So why do we vote?
That’s where ego comes into play. Through some strange construct, those who vote find motivation in the idea that they can make a difference and the only terrain in which such a delusion can take root must be nourished by a supercharged ego. Since you can’t change the math, you’ve got to come up with other operators to seriously believe that your vote is going to count for more than its face value. You must convince yourself that the X you trace in the voting booth is the one that will swing the vote.
Consider applause. People clap at a concert to express their enthusiasm in spite of the fact that their individual contribution adds little to the general clamour. This may seem analogous to voting, but there is an important difference. Applause is a collective manifestation of support for a single proposal. Not so an election where the outcome is a choice between alternatives. Joining in with hundreds of others to applaud a song, a goal or a speech doesn’t require a doped up ego. Knowing that the artist can’t make out your individual contribution makes no difference. You’re clapping as much for your neighbours as for those on the stage. Voting, on the other hand, needs you to feel important. In fact, if there is a parallel to be drawn between clapping and voting, it might well be that voting is more akin to not clapping while surrounded by fans noisily showing their support. Sitting out the ovation in the midst of collective bravos takes a well-nourished ego. There might even be reason to believe that those won over fans are the very same who will opt to stay home on election day and let the votes come from those who stayed silent at the concert.