Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Voting is a Game


All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men 

40 comments:

  1. That final sentence, "There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men" is the key explanation of self-reliance. This paragraph in fact is just an example of why the individual is more valuable than the mass. Every time somebody votes, they're vote is only considered to a certain extent whereas the mass vote is is what truly prevails. Thoreau believes voting is just the most convenient way to solve a problem, not necessarily the best.

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    1. Although the mass vote prevails as the main theme, Thoreau wants to comment on the uncertainty of voting causing corruption and confusion. This slows society down and limits them.

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  2. I feel that here, Thoreau is voicing his dislike for organized government. He is very critical in his ideas about society, and that no matter how hard you try and how loud your voice might be, you can not do much to change anything.

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  3. Thoreau tells us that we should think with the majority of the people, but Emerson tells us that we should all live like an individual. It is interesting how different the two authors think. Thoreau is interesting on how voting system is like a game.

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  4. He seems to be criticizing the way society is built with the system of voting, and stresses on the idea that each individual has an important say, and each of us are important, but when there are things such as voting, "even voting for the right is doing nothing for it". He really cares about the idea of individuality and wishes that people are able to express our ideas more.

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  5. It's almost a little odd to see this, as he is drawing parallels to mainly different people politically. This could be those who believed in the kakistocracy in the ochlocracy, the tyranny in the masses. Again, I like his thought process, as meritocractic sets of principles play out in a democracy with little success. Whether this is because man is simply ignorant, or that they really do make the best possible choice, is unknown. Either way, this passage does hold a lot of truth.

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  6. "All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it..."
    I like his use of simile in that sentence, it gives me a stronger understanding of what he is trying to convey. He's expressing no matter how you try to get your voice heard, its hard to change society.

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  7. Thoreau writes about how mass voting is more effective for decision making than other forms of problem solving. I agree that voting has worked for thousands of years, but the voting has to be fair for it to work. For example, there can't be one race in the court to make the right decision, especially 100 years ago.

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  8. Thoreau talks about society and voting is used as a way to solve many problems. He's trying to say that because you can only vote for one or another, problems are solved with what the majority says. Therefore, even if you vote for what you think is right, it is hard to get your voice heard if it not what the majority says.

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  9. I like the metaphor that he uses here because it gives better understandings for the readers. Although his voice here does not seem very angry but I feel like he was criticizing the society because he does not like the way society is.

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  10. Thoreau is condemning how society these days has become, essentially, a "mass," with no individual thought. (This is probably yet another reason why he went to live by himself in Walden Pond - to be an individual, self-relying?)

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  11. I agree with Thoreau's ideas, since people view voting as a way for their "voice to be heard" when in fact, it is merely the easiest way to choose a government official. The last quote, "There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men", portrays Thoreau's belief in non-conformity and his opposition towards a conformist society. I respect his ideas, but he doesn't provide an alternate option to voting.

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  12. I like how Thoreau compares voting to games like checkers and backgammon because I think that this is a unique way to interpret the system of voting that we have. When Thoreau mentions that "There is but little virtue in the action of masses and men", his views on non-conformity are shown and again his critical views of society is portrayed.

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  13. I think Thoreau is trying to talk about the contradiction voting and the government system, and in the current system voting can't be very effective

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  14. I find the connection which Thoreau uses in comparing this idea to games is really helpful. The ending line really gets you thinking. He said that there is little virtue in the actions of mass amount of men and this is very true in my mind.

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  15. I am not going to lie. I think he's a little over wordy in this piece of writing, but the message is still getting through clearly. I do not, however, agree with his view on voting. I prefer a strong and organized government system over what he's describing.

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  16. This made me think of a project I did in math last semester where we studied how ineffective various voting systems are in getting across what the population really wants. I think that most people agree with him in that they will vote but they think their vote will not make a difference.

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  17. Just by reading the first sentence in this paragraph I can agree with Thoreau that voting is like a game. Each person votes for what they believe is right but can not predict what others may think. By living in a society that votes to have their say in political issues you are willing to trust what the majority of the people believe. Thoreau believes that by making mass votes you are not really able to express what the individual man believes.

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  18. I like how he compared the voting system to a game because although you can contribute to it, you can't control others' actions or the outcome. When he says, "There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men", he expresses his critical views of the systems of our society and that individuals' voices cannot be heard through the voting system.

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  20. I thought it was interesting how Thoreau compared voting to games.

    The message I got from this passage, was that being mainstream really does not help the society to change. This shows how Thoreau is against mainstream ideas, but wants people to follow their own way to make a change in the society.

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  21. The comparison between government voting and a game spoke to me as I am able to connect and relate to. Even though the word "game" is supposed to be defined as a fun and joyful concept, in this analogy, the word "game" seems to negatively rub against the concept of voting. As voting relies on the decision made by the majority of the people, Thoreau explains that the mainstream decision may not always be the best decision. In order to make a meaningful and right decision for voting, Thoreau suggests that people stick to their personal beliefs rather than the mainstream beliefs and choices.

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  22. I see why Thoreau would refuse to pay his taxes, but I find this action of his contradictory to his core belief of community and unity with people. Similar to Emerson and other transcendentalists, Thoreau believed that you should become one with nature, as well as the over-soul. Is it not the duty of a community member to contribute to the community itself, even if that means paying taxes.

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  23. EMMA TAKAHASHI

    Thoreau does not like the fact that the current government is organized and under major control. He tends to stick to his ideas about society and does not like it when other opinions come rushing into his mind. He believes that since the government is under control and power, even though you want to send a message of some sort, it will never come true since the majority will always win.

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  24. Thoreau believes that voting usually helps the majority opinion, because an individual’s voice is hard to be heard among many people. I realized that this connects with his view of non-conformity, and how it is hard to let your own individual voice be heard, especially if it is against what the majority feels.

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  25. Thoreau expresses his distaste for organized government. He states how the individual is more important than the mass, and when voting you could cast your vote but it is only valid to a certain extent and in the end the majority will be more important. I found it interesting how Thoreau compared voting to a game. The word game tends to mean something fun and playful, whereas when Thoreau used it it seems to have a negative connotation and is making fun of voting.

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  26. Thoreau is concerned about the voting system saying that people do not believe their vote impacts the result very much. However, when everybody does this the result is fixed. He says that we should not leave the result in the hands of maasses of people that will just conform.

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  27. Thoreau is saying that voting, even though the individual made the decision, the ultimate one goes to the majority vote. When you cast a ballot, you are expressing your opinion on the issue. However, the overall decision is made by the majority. In society, you think you are expressing yourself a lot, when in reality, its all about the masses.

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  28. Thoreau disagrees with the current voting system today and believes that no matter your opinion you are never truly heard. He says that no matter what happens the majority will always win and that might not be for the best.

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  29. The way Thoreau compares his ideas to games, such as checker and backgammon, very useful. like games you can contribute to it and do what you want but you can't control what others decide to do or the results. Thoreau is constantly criticizing society and in this paragraph i think he's saying that that being mainstream doesn't help our society to change. instead of going along with the crowd Thoreau wants people to make their own decisions.

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  30. Thoreau emphasizes in this paragraph his distaste for organized governments led by strict, man-made rules. He despises the voting system, as it is all based on chance, which comes from majority. In a way I feel that here he is subtly mentioning that he believes he is right, but he never gets his way, so he is not enthusiastic about the voting system.

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  31. Thoreau is a Transcendentalist; he refuses to follow the conformity and values self-reliance. He criticizes voting since the characteristics of the system opposes those beliefs.

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  32. I think Thoreau is trying to convey that voting does such a feeble casting of the scales that it makes almost no difference. And while the voters are casting in the way that "they think is right," they leave the actual results up to the majority. He says if a man truly wants to make a difference, then he should not just confine himself to voting.

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  33. I personally see this excerpt as a good way to demonstrate Thoreau's view on non conformity. He believes that we should each have say on a matter without the pressure of out side views. HIs view on voting is a mass perspective on something and its therefore seen as an effective but not best way to gather information.

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  34. I don't believe what Thoreau is saying here is right. The system of going with the majority has led us to be where we are today. Although there may be some times in history when the majority was wrong, we were eventually able to see through it and realize it was a mistake. If everyone thought individually, there would be chaos, for no 2 people's ideas about everything is going to be same.

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  35. Thoreau mentions that " A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men." which really is the main message of this excerpt. Humanity has used process of voting to decide on things for a long, long time, although it did not always give the best answer since it just followed where most people voted for. I feel like he is criticizing the government again in these sentences. A wise community should not use process of voting, which can be interpreted as, a fool community uses process of voting.

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  36. Here, Thoreau is saying that voting and organized government is silly, kind of like a game. Although you may feel good about voting, your opinion does not mean much, and even though it might be the better choice, the majority wins.

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  37. In this passage Thoreau believes that voting is like a silly game because you may believe in certain ideas which will probably never be understood by the majority. But realistically there is never a right or wrong, so even if you didn't get what you wanted the majority is most likely glad that their vote passed. Thoreau doesn't understand that people benefit from different policies so there is never a right or correct vote.

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  38. I agree with Thoreau here. When he says that a wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, he means that a wise man will take upon himself the responsibility of making changes in society. In my opinion, such conviction is good. Those who truly want to see the changes in society that they think are right will go the distance to make sure that those changes are made. Voting is great, but it has its limits, especially in representative democracies such as the United States in which the real legislative decisions are made by politicians that are elected by the people.

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  39. Here Thoreau is explaining that voting is not necessarily effective, as your opinion only goes as far as to enter the mass pool of others. By voting you are not really doing anything to express your rights or opinion. But if no one votes, how would the majority of people’s opinions be gathered?

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