Monday, November 3, 2008

Politics has buyer's remorse, too

Politics has buyer's remorse, too
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, November 3, 2008

As we head to the polling booths on Tuesday, a fear gnawing in many people's mind is: "What if I make the wrong choice?'' The run-up to the presidential election has branded it as a "pivotal,'' "epochal,'' "once in a lifetime'' kind of election in the psyche of the voters.And that makes the weight of the decision even heavier — as if the fate of the universe hangs in balance on each individual vote.

I do not feel the same way.I agree with the point that this election is very important, perhaps more important than any ever.But I have enough faith in American democratic institutions (the executive, the legislative and the judiciary) to know that any changes forthcoming would be within the parameters of what has been enshrined in that shining beacon: the U.S. Constitution.

As I saw both the candidates and their teams in action over the past few months, I felt even more reassured that we are being asked to make a choice between two equally exemplary individuals.Both hold the best interests of the United States first and foremost in their hearts.So whether Obama wins or McCain, we the people have won in either case.

And once the voting is done, the "What, if I make the wrong choice?'' will morph into "Did I make the correct choice?'' That is a question all marketers are aware of. It is what almost any consumer goes through after making any big-ticket purchase.Marketers/psychologists call it "post-purchase dissonance'' or "buyer's remorse.'' Experts say buyer's remorse can be caused or increased by the knowledge that other people will later question the purchase or claim to know better alternatives.It comes down to the "we told you so'' or "you should have known better" moment.Companies deal with buyer's remorse by having return policies that allow consumers to return goods if they are not fully satisfied.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing for election results.However, the lead time between the declaration of results and the oath-taking by the new president (an anachronism from the horse-and-buggy days) provides a release for the remorse and an opportunity to reinforce or rationalize the validity of one's choice.

I would think that any such remorse after the election would be misplaced if every voter makes his or her choice based on the sole criteria of "Who is best for the country?'' without bringing factors such as age, race, sex, appearance or color into play.

If every voter does that, we will end up on Wednesday with the best guy winning.

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