The US Presidential Election – Election of a President by Public Choice

It is interesting to note that the electoral process will nominate a candidate based on the economic theory of public choice and the US electorate will vote for a Presidential candidate with the hope of maximizing their satisfaction. In other words the individual will elect a candidate most likely to increase his or hers personal wealth.

This little know theory explains how people will make a choice in the realm of public decision making similar to the ones we make in the grocery given closely related brands of the same product. The buyer will always try to maximize their satisfaction by paying the least.

Similarly when faced with multiple choices in the realm of politics the voter will opt for those choices that will fetch the maximum benefits. For example the expectation that taxes will be lowered by a candidate will make him more likely to win votes from those who expect future changes in tax laws to make them wealthier. On the flip side the government employees will vote for a tax increase platform that promises to augment their salaries. The aged and retired will support low cost Medicare and housing.

The politician will try to maximize his votes by playing to the public sentiment and making promises for the common good. The political issues raised will closely follow the desires of the public. A very popular platform post recession is job growth. The candidate with the most convincing plan to grow jobs and prevent jobs from leaving the country will receive voter support.

Given this kind of rationality the political process of voting is quite similar to the market for pork belly as a commodity or even steaks in the restaurant business. There is an underlying demand and supply in the political arena of promising satisfaction through the provisioning of public service for national wellbeing by politicians on the one hand and the expectations of the electorate that these services like jobs and higher incomes will actually materialize by electing this candidate.

The idea of serving the public and of common good has its own pitfalls within these genres of expectations. The politician in his self interest will always persevere to serve his constituency and keep his constituents satisfied by providing a service. Such localization of provisioning using the tax payers’ money can sometimes be wasteful and at the cost of national interest.

This raises the question of how well do the public understand and know the candidate. Democratic principle of electing the President is through majority vote. However the whole process is influenced by small minority groups who lobby for their own private interests. The influence of the small cohesive groups is far more influential than large groups that having multiple interests. They are able to apply political pressure through votes and campaign contributions.

Outside of his constituency the candidate is only known as well as the media portrays him. He may tour the country as part of his campaign and meet as many people as possible. This gives him the opportunity to introduce himself to the people personally and increase his goodwill via a positive impression. He would use this opportunity to relate his plans to serve the country and its people. The candidate would speak about the political and economic reforms expected during his term in office.

The outcome of collective public choice therefore may not always be the best possible candidate but mostly in and in all probability the candidate having the most possible influence on the electorate via the media.

All said when the incumbent US President retires making way for the next occupant of the White House it will be the result of collective decision making for a President by public choice elected by the people of the people and for the people.

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