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Relative Political Vision

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Republicans need to more clearly articulate their relative political vision.

In our current two party system, the decision is often based on which option is disliked the least. The winner, after winning, determines that they earned the votes they received, rather than understanding that they were voted for because they were the lesser of two evils at the time, the relatively better choice.


An article by Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler on Behavioral Scientist last month, titled "We Forget That Everything Is Relative," is a reminder that while we like to think that people are able to weigh all the options and evaluate the opportunities, costs and rewards for various decisions, we can't.

Their article focused on JCPenny. Once known for its sales and discounts, "one day, Ron Johnson, JCPenney's new CEO, got rid of all of the deals... No more sales, bargains, coupons, or discounts," Ariely and Kreisler wrote.

He believed "his new practice was clearer, more respectful, and less manipulative for his customers (and he was right, of course)." The problem was that while it was more transparent -- the customers left in droves. "JCPenney lost an amazing $985 million within a year," the stock fell, and Johnson lost his job.

With a new CEO, old sales gimmicks returned, as did shoppers.

Ariely and Kreisler wrote why the clear prices were a losing proposition. "When it is hard to measure directly the value of something, we compare it to other things, like a competing product or other versions of the same product. When we compare items, we create relative values. Is this behavior logical? No. Does it make sense once you understand relativity? Yes. Does it happen frequently? Yes. Did it cost an executive his job? Absolutely."


The question is does the relative comparison make sense from a shoppers perspective, "If we compared everything to all other things, we would consider our opportunity costs and all would be well. But we don't. We compare the item to only one other (sometimes two). This is when relativity can fool us," the authors conclude.

In our current political system, the choices are often presented as binary -- this or that. It's a reduction of a multitude of complex issues and interactions that are simplified into a decision that pits facts, emotion, personality and desires against one another.

The answer to the headline in this weeks article in Vanity Fair by Maya Kosoff, "Can Millennial Women Decide the Next Election," is yes they can. The real questions are will they, and in what way.

The data cited by Kosoff was derived from a partnership between SurveyMonkey, theSkimm and the Hive, who will be updating results throughout the midterm elections. (SurveyMonkey online poll January 21?24, 2018, 5,075 adults, including 507 female millennials.

Millennial women are thinking and participating in politics. When asked, "74 percent of Democratic-leaning millennial women and 38 percent of Republican-leaning millennial women said they participated in some sort of political activity to commemorate the Women's March," wrote Kosoff.


Additionally, they are more active in supporting other movements. "52 percent support the Black Lives Matter movement compared to 30 percent of Americans overall. Forty-three percent of millennial women support the #MeToo movement compared to 27 percent of Americans overall'" Kosoff wrote. "(Among Democratic and Democratic-leaning millennial women, that number rises to 60 percent.)"

While they actively support social causes and are politically active, the issues that they listed in order of importance were, education, jobs and the economy, then the environment. What was not answered was how are those most important issues driving their political engagement.

What's more telling is the comments received from the women polled, "When we speak out, our words are not heard or ... taken seriously. There is a great skepticism embedded in communities of whether or not a woman can think objectively, and for the great good, and hold her ground on 'tough' topics."

So overlay the relative comparison and the political involvement of millennial women and it begins to make more sense, while still a bit hazy. Even if a party's issues line up with the voter, if the relative perception of the party is negative it will make a difference. However, as seen with the 2016 presidential election, in the end - it's really about a binary decision.


Since all humans are flawed and all candidates are human, we will never have perfect candidates. However -- if we try perhaps we can more clearly articulate the better relative political vision.

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