On Tuesday, 120 million Americans voted, and Donald Trump won. But the link between a vote cast for Trump and his election is correlational: for the average American, nothing we did had an impact on the election.
The fact is that, in a national election, your vote doesn’t matter.
If you live in one of the 39 non-swing states in the United States, your vote had no impact. If you live in Alabama, it doesn’t matter if you voted for Clinton; your electoral votes went to Trump.
Even in swing states, economist Bryan Caplan shows that your vote is unlikely to matter because your single vote only affects the outcome if it’s a tie. Let’s look at Florida, considered the most important state of this election.
Fivethirtyeight.com gave Mr. Trump a 50.3 percent chance of winning Florida. Given this, the average voting Floridian had a less than 1 in 10^69 (that’s 1 followed by 69 0’s) chance of deciding who won Florida. To put that in perspective, it’s much less likely than the odds of getting struck by lightning the very moment one opens a winning Powerball ticket.
For the average American, nothing we do will affect a national election. If we donate $100 to our candidate, it may bring in 1-2 additional votes. If we volunteer 20 hours, we might earn them another 10-15 votes. Neither of these activities is going to shape the election.
Americans tend to trust government because we assume that it’s, “of the people, by the people, for the people.” The quote attributed to Barney Frank sums it up: “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.”
It’s a lot easier to trust and champion big government if you assume that government is something that we all have a say in. But the fact is that, as an individual, your say is so miniscule that it doesn’t matter. The federal government will pass new laws and regulations regardless of what you want.
Continue reading at The Hill.