The fallacy of sympathy votes
Votes are taken not just in a democracy. You also have them in socialism, classrooms, trade unions, sports governing bodies etc. This is done to select a main leader or a set of leaders. Generally voting involves assessing the strengths and the merits of the people standing up for the election. But not always.
Sympathy Vote (definition): an occasion when a lot of people vote for or support a particular person because he or she has suffered recently.(source: dictionary.cambridge.org)
There are people in various walks of life who end up giving Sympathy votes to a candidate just because the other candidate who was contesting the elections against him or her ended up using insulting language against him or her. This is a very foolish practice and let me explain why.
Such people believe that they are punishing the abusive candidate by electing the non abusive candidate instead. This is where the overzealous ‘do not judge’ folks are surprisingly silent about such things. Why not leave the punishment to God instead? And also if you want to ‘punish’ the abusive candidate why not ask from his or her disqualification from the election? Isn’t that more ethical?
The fallacy of the Sympathy Vote is that a person who previously had little or no merit to win the votes, suddenly obtains votes which he or she was not going to get under normal circumstances. Such a person doesn’t even need to promise development or anything good for the people who vote. All they need to do is play the victim card well.
Then after they get to power by virtue of being elected, they may turn to be even worse than the abusive candidate. And the people act shocked as to how did that come to happen. I’ll say it’s because they never bothered to check if the person whom they elected is fit to perform the job or receive the honour that they are supposed to. I still maintain the candidate who tricked the people by putting on a nice initial behaviour is totally responsible for his or her actions later on.
However, I don’t entirely put the blame on such a Sympathy Vote candidate. I’d blame the people who selected him or her even more. No where in the Word of God are the people told to give up their discernment (checking things up) for what so ever reason, which includes the occasions where Sympathy Votes are solicited.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. (1 John 4:1-3)
The above Bible verses are not just talking about evil spirits alone. These also point out that the human spirit too needs to be tested. So why not discern as to which man or woman is God sent and which ones are not? It’ll save you a lot of trouble and effort if you select the right person at the right time. Do not be a simpleton! But rather be prudent in all you do.
The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps. (Proverbs 14:15)
Though the Sympathy Vote is seen more in a political context, I’d say that is not the only arena of life to be careful about. Often in the religious world (or let me use the term ‘the Christian world), there are instances of Sympathy Votes. I don’t know where, when or how you may have to use such discernment in the religious world but when and if you do, remember that Bible doesn’t encourage Sympathy Votes.
I myself have to come to know of one such instance in a Christian circle, where there was an election of a high ranking clergy person among various contenders. Just because it went down to the final two and both of them were in strong contention to win, one of them despite being over forty years old, end up using the most disgusting language to belittle the other candidate. Immediately, the next time the lots were cast, the candidate who was insulted won the high rank and the abusive candidate when sent away to a far away place, another continent!
In due course of time, this pleasant mannered person who won the religious elections discreetly stole from the church funds and later on also started using profane language. So as a result after a few years that person was relieved of the high rank in the church structure. (On a side note, I now realize that just because someone has grown in age doesn’t necessarily mean they grow in manners too). If that election were happen now with the same two candidates it would be best to cancel the election and wait it out till things settle down instead of selecting ‘the lesser of two evils’ on the spur of the moment.
And, to set the record straight, the Bible never ever tells us to choose ‘the lesser of two evils’. If fact if you choose the lesser of two evils you are still choosing evil. Avoid the Sympathy Vote and live well!
I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. (Revelation 2:2)
Posted on April 5, 2016, in Discernment, Practical living and tagged avoiding impulsiveness, avoiding wrong people, discerment, discerning doctrine, elections, government, nation, polictics, self examination, voting. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.