Twelve Scores and One Day Later…

March 02, 2016

 Super Tuesday and the meaning of democracy

Twelve states later and while we don’t know the nominees, the outline is shaped.  Perhaps it is time a good time to ask: What is the meaning of democracy and how does the primary process reflect our values?

In this primary, voters had real choices spanning very different approaches to government policy and style.  

One of my friends posted on FB that she was truly conflicted this year. The “automaticity” of years past had vanished, and a real choice was needed.

I felt similarly.  I found evidence for a number of positions and could have been convinced and was…many times.  On any given day, I would waver this way and that.

In the end, how does one voter make a choice?  What does citizenship require a citizen to do?

Winnicott describes the psychology of the voter in this way:

In the exercise of the secret vote, the whole responsibility for action is taken by individuals, if they are healthy enough to take it.  The vote expresses the struggle within oneself […] the decision as to which way to vote is the expression of a solution of a struggle within oneself.

We saw this process occur dynamically in real time in Iowa where voters would move physically from one candidate’s corner to another.

Voters need the time and the mental exercise to come to those conclusions, to debate, listen and reason.  And, we need to give kids the same opportunities to build mental muscles for democracy.   Playing iCivics’ Win the White House game, students get that opportunity to select their candidate, party, platform and issues.  Supporting your platform correctly is essential to winning!  Not to mention that those mental muscles are the same ones that will help students grow into productive workers and colleagues.

Now for the next 38 reps.



Louise Dubé is executive director at iCivics. Louise has devoted her career to ensuring that all students are prepared for active and thoughtful citizenship and life.  Follow her on Twitter @Louise_Dube