Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites


Many market choices have voters angry over few electoral choices

With all of the social media options available today, not to mention the ability to blog or respond to online publishing with any opinion each of us has 24/7, as we are less than three months away from electing our next President of the United States, voter anger seems to be as bad as it’s ever been.

And the cause of that anger might be explained as simply as the direct result of the choices we’re now offered in purchasing. Let me explain.

Fifty years ago when you ordered from a restaurant menu, the choices and substitution options were few, if you were even allowed to substitute. Order a burger and fries and you might get asked if you wanted cheese on the burger. And onions. Today, whole menu pages are devoted to all sorts of different extra combinations. And of course you can substitute with a veggie or turkey burger. You want fries? Would that be regular, cross-cut, seasoned, rosemary or sweet potato?

Our food menu choices then were few. Same with our democracy, where we had two major political parties from which to choose. But over time, market choices grew to cater to each person individually — whereas in our democracy, we’re forced to compromise. Markets let us be individuals and democracies force us into groups. And even in groups we don’t always get what we want. Both major political parties are suffering from that this election, where many Bernie Sanders supporters have outright stated they won’t vote for Hillary Clinton, and on the GOP side it seems to be even worse as many GOP Party leaders, elected officials and big-money contributors such as the Koch brothers, gnash their teeth at the thought of having to support Donald Trump as

the GOP Presidential candi-date.

The market has taught us to have it our way. Democracies teach us to compromise. Given our daily experience with markets, it’s no wonder that people get so angry about their intermittent experience with democracies. Politics is not a forum in which you get to be more individual. It is a forum in which you become a part of a group. It’s not a place where you assert your own views and individuality or demand what you want; it’s a place where you find what you have in common with the people who live around you.

Creating a life out of the tension between what you want and what the people around you want is not easy, but it can be gratifying. One key to that is not to approach democracies with the same expectation as we do markets. They are very different, but they can work well together as long as we all recognize and learn to accept the difference.

Allen Warren, an engineer, lives in Forest Grove.