By Mark Bauer

Every election year, cable news stations and candidates inundate the American populace with some form of messaging that sounds a lot like: “Decision time!” or “You decide!”

Their objective is to ratchet up awareness and hype around the elections to drive voters to the polls, and for good reason—it’s important that people have a say in their representation. However, by the time voters cast their “decision” in the voting booth, a whole slew of decisions were made prior to that moment that didn’t include input by the people at all. American voters are effectively left with “this or that,” which is highly susceptible to manipulation. And if you think about it, is it really a choice at all?

You might be wondering about the primaries right about now and whether those decisions count—but even who you vote for in a primary isn’t necessarily framed around who you most like or capable of solving the most pressing problems, the primary question is about who is most electable in the general election. 

What if there was a better, more rational method for decision-making? Science actually has this answer. In his book, “The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life,” David Brooks outlines several ways humans approach decision-making. We’re borrowing from his list here for the purpose of this blog. Experts the world over have identified a methodology for optimizing decision-making. The first step is 1) to identify the problem or what you want to achieve; 2) create a list of things that could help solve that problem; 3) evaluate that list and rank what you think is best positioned to solve that problem; 4) ask questions to affirm the ranking is accurate, adjust based on answers; 5) select a path forward by tallying the score.

If you’re at all familiar with ranked choice voting, you might realize how that decision-making methodology bears a striking resemblance to the electoral reform gaining popularity across the country. If you’re not yet familiar with ranked choice voting, Rank the Vote has assembled resources to help you learn more about it.

If you’re tired of the same old politics as usual, it might be time to evaluate the decision-making process that gets us to this point. If you do that, you might find that it’s completely irrational. 

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Mark Bauer is a producer, entrepreneur, day trader and former Independent candidate for Congress in Texas. Previously he spent 10 years as a legal journalist covering the legal market in Texas and regulatory issues in Washington DC.

Mark’s primary interests involve using content and storytelling to help different groups of people better understand one another.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rank the Vote, its members, supporters, funders, or affiliates.