LI’s post, yesterday, on the Nagelian voter,was supposed to be clear as daylight, or the reflection of same from your beloved’s eye at the moment of spiritual union. It was also supposed to fit into our larger project of thinking about politics beyond parties. We take on the big projects at LI. We pull out the autocad. We hire the temps. Rereading it, I see I wasn’t as clear as daylight. There was a lot of scrambled egg in the spiritual union. Two points, then. Harry wrote a reply from the more skeptical side at Scratchings. I think I agree with Harry in one respect, and in one respect I don’t. The agreement is that the specific act of voting itself is a negligible political act. The unimportance of the act is emphasized by the convergence of the parties. The fact that there is no difference between the parties means that there is no difference made by the vote -- or at least that is the instrument used by the governing class to to degrade voting, and thereby assure themselves continued power. They can adopt this strategy because voting is a certain kind of social act. My post didn’t make it clear enough that the effect of the act, which is important, can and should be divorced from the act itself. The difference between the real effect of the vote and the global effect of voting is evidence that we are dealing, here, with a symbolic object in Victor Turner’s sense. To see how the vote is a symbolic object, think of other objects in games. A football, to use a standard example, is in itself merely an unintelligently designed ball, harder to hold than a standard round ball, harder to kick, and a little easier to toss long distances, compared to a round ball of equal size. One’s interest in the ball itself doesn’t really go much beyond these observations. A game in which possession of the football endows the players of the game with their positions and their roles arises, of course, not out of the football itself, but out of its symbolic value. There is some intersection between the affordances of the ball and the role it plays – that is, there is a reason that the peculiar shape of the football fits the game of football – but in general, the interest in the game does not arise from fascination with the ball itself. It is the very rare fan that cheers the ball, or worries about it. Nor do fans puzzle much over the importance of the ball. Other objects in the world can be imagined to have a personality. There are pornographic tales narrated by sofas. When I was a kid, I had to watch an anti-drug film narrated by a drop of LSD. But footballs in themselves aren’t haloed with even that kind of aura. My own view of voting is that there are times that it is better not to vote, but there are no times, in a democracy, when it is better not to be a voter. Not being a voter is a form of social death. A lesser form among the hierarchies of zombies, but a form, nevertheless. This is where I do disagree with the nihilistic approach to voting. It does make a difference that 25 percent of black males in Alabama have been disenfranchised. The termination of their legal right to vote is not the termination of a triviality. Alright then. Clear as a bell, eh? The second point I should clear up is that I meant, in my last post, to be descriptive. Whether or not I like the fact that voters are Nagelian, I think that is how they are. And the voters that are Lockean – the well informed voters, the meritorious voters – are not un-Nagelian. They are a sub-group of Nagelian voter. (The hopelessness of philosophy is that it drives you into these linguistic oddities, but so it goes). What that means is simple: Lockean voters view their intelligence, which convention defines by the comparison mechanisms in schools (an absurd way to define intelligence, but I’m not going to kick against the pricks) as much more important than other groups. There. All better now.