Thank you to the USWP for the support and votes in Florida. I was up against Haliman of the AMP, a very accomplished and intimidating opponent. When the day started, I thought I would need a minor miracle to pull off the upset. Mission accomplished against the odds.
A very special thank you to my MU, United Aggression, whose votes kept me in the race all day and whose push at the end helped make this run successful. I also must single out Addy Lawrence for his unconditional endorsement with his media article. He didn’t have to do that, he was already helping by being a member of the MU. His article had an impact and in a close race, every good word counts.
Finally, thank you to any independent voter out there that decided to throw a vote my way and give me another chance.
This is my 24th kick at the Congress can (3rd in the US), a milestone that had a lot of symbolism for me and something I was really striving for. Two years of serving the legislative needs of Canada and the USA.
The Psychology of Vote Buying
The election was an exciting and hard one for me. I knew that no matter what the numbers were saying at any given moment, the potential was always there for Haliman to generate a large amount of support quickly and leave me in the dust. So I kept messaging, and messaging, and messaging... after all I am a relative unknown still and so I need to "shake babies and kiss hands", as I told my MU, in order to be successful.
Like any election day, I hit a wall around mid-evening where the votes appeared to stall. At that point I was still trailing by 5 votes and I couldn't figure out where they would come from. United Aggression was holding votes for late and I know the USWP were setup for a push but that was true of AMP too. Plus I had no idea where I stood in the priority list (considerably below ATO efforts for sure but close enough to warrant being monitored). So I did one last push of PMs before calling it a night. In the end, I estimate to have generated roughly 1 vote for every 30-40 messages sent.
As the night progressed, I also had front row seats to the whole vote buying issue. The very first PM I received was offering to vote for me for 10 q6 tanks. That was followed up with an offer to pay me 20 q6 for my vote. After supper it had risen to 50 q6. Then it really got crazy... within an hour the price of a vote (both buying and offering) went from 50 to 100 to 120 to 150 q6. There were also offers of 5,000 cc.
I did not buy or sell a single vote (although when I saw the collapse in the value of a q6 weapon this morning, I had a moment of remorse... quickly suppressed).
What I did do is start thinking of the psychology of vote buying. Why are so many people doing it? Why are some, like me, refusing to take part? Why are others spending so much energy condemning it?
Here are some of the easy answers:
People do it because they can.
People do it because they can afford it.
People do it because there are no immediate consequences or repercussions, there are no courts or jails to police behavior deemed detrimental by the community.
People do it because they have no vested interest in acting otherwise.
People do it because they want to counter perceived cheating.
People don't do it because they believe it is against the spirit of the game or unethical.
People don't do it because they can't afford it.
People don't do it because they care about the opinion of the community and the stigma that may be associated with their actions.
People don't do it because they have a vested interest in controlling the terms of the political game and how you get ahead.
People don't do it because they associate their real life biases and values to their in-game persona.
Although we may couch the debate in terms of democracy or slight thereof, it really has nothing to do with it. A first past the post system, one which until recently was completely transparent and open, will always be subject to abuse. Unless you implement a system (don't hold your breath) where the potential abuse is reduced or unless you give tools to your community to truly govern themselves, it is not democracy. It is a horse race, a populist contest (occasionally a popularity one too), a strategic deployment of money and influence. An incentive to cheat.
If the playing field were equal(ish), meaning no bots or multies for starters, you could make an argument for the acceptance of vote buying. After all it becomes to New World equivalent to money and marketing... minus the need to convince your audience of your message of course.
The reason why I even contemplate walking down that slippery debating slope is because the vote buying issue can be a tricky one. If you offer to cover the moving expenses of a voter, is that vote buying? I would not consider it so and yet in absolute terms it definitely is. If I offered you the moving price, really what I'm trying to do is make it as convenient and easy as possible for you to make the effort on my behalf. But the second any goods change hands, you are buying/selling.
The cynical side of me is looking at this (now that I've comfortably lost myself in my own article) and is forced to conclude that the political process, especially one stripped down to the level we see in the New World, is one that corrupts absolutely. We are devoid of choice, message and impact and so what is left is medals and gold and any means necessary to win.
Ultimately my win in Florida is due to the fact that Haliman, with regards to this one race, did not subscribe to the above behavior. He allowed my hard work and marshaling of votes to have an impact. It probably helped that he was distracted too.
I wish it were not so but in the end I do finally understand those that partake in the circus. All that is left is the values you choose to play by. Values that can change as the game 'evolves'.
What is this?You are reading an article written by a citizen of eRepublik, an immersive multiplayer strategy game based on real life countries. Create your own character and help your country achieve its glory while establishing yourself as a war hero, renowned publisher or finance guru.