Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/ALAISTER RUSSELL
Picture: SUNDAY TIMES/ALAISTER RUSSELL

With local government election campaigns in full swing one often questions who the target audience is of the competing parties — independents, particularly regarding their poster taglines.

In his book Against Democracy Jason Brennan from Georgetown University describes three types of voters: hobbits, hooligans and Vulcans. Vulcans are noted for their attempt to live by logic and reason with as little interference from emotion as possible

“Hobbits are those who did not bother to learn about politics, and therefore vote in full ignorance; hooligans are those who follow their own party with the devotion of sports fans and adhere to a certain party, irrespective of past performance and future plans; and Vulcans, a significant minority of people who behave rationally, gather data and vote with full information.”

“Unfortunately,” he says, “because of the dominance of hobbits and hooligans, democratic outcomes are not only not representative of the majority’s true views, but are also wrong and damaging to the common good.”

Given the youthfulness of our democracy and the diversity of it, I would suggest that while it is obvious that we have a number of hobbit and hooligan voters in this country, we have more Vulcans than we suspect. These are the only people who are likely to change their vote based on the manifesto and the sloganeering of a prominent political parties. These are the only people who will interrogate the legitimacy of campaign promises.

So in this approaching local government election it will be interesting to see how many people actually turn up to vote, and how they vote.

Will hobbits be enticed to vote for the first time for an independent candidate because he or she is a member of their hobbit community?

Will hooligan voters just stay away because they are disillusioned with the performance of their party, but unable to put their X anywhere else, or will the performance of their party be so bad that in sheer frustration they are prepared to change allegiance?

Will Vulcans turn out in great numbers because they know the issues, understand the consequences of continued municipal failure, and want to be part of the change required?

How the final results turn out will inform on the mindset of our voting public.

Steuart Pennington
KwaZulu-Natal 

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