At the 2007 federal election, before I knew anything or took politics seriously, I put a (1) in the box for Nick Xenophon on the senate ballot paper.
Since paying more attention to politics, I deeply regret that decision.
Recently, I reflected on why I voted for him.
It wasn’t because I was passionate about getting rid of pokies. I might have thought they’re evil and destroy lives, but I was aware that it’s impractical to get rid of them in their entirety and there’s more than one way to address the issue of problem gambling.
In fact, that was the only policy issue I associated with him. I had no idea where he stood on issues such as the economy, climate change, education policy, health policy, industrial relations, national security or anything else.
It had nothing to do with what was written or said in the media about him because, at the time, I didn’t pay any attention to any of it whatsoever.
What pushed me over the edge to vote for him was very simple: two days before the election, I overheard a conversation between two people I didn’t like. They were talking about how he was a menace to South Australia, how he was only running for the senate in order to get both a state and federal superannuation package and how he wouldn’t win a quota.
My view at the time was, if people I didn’t like were talking negatively about him, then I guess he must be there for the right reasons and if they’re saying he’s not going to win, they must know more about politics than I do. I’ll show them!
I didn’t even know who Penny Wong was at the time which says a lot about how little I paid attention to politics and how important name recognition is for a politician on a community level let alone a state or national level.
There are two reasons I’m bringing this up. Firstly because I think it’s important to understand the process of how people who don’t pay attention (most normal people) make decisions. The second reason is a little more interesting.
Since 2007, I’ve not received one piece of communication or acknowledgment from Nick Xenophon. On top of that, everything I’ve seen him do has made me deeply regret my decision to vote for him. From silly publicity stunts, to invoking parliamentary privilege for cynical political purposes, to opposing the bill for the Emissions Trading Scheme in 2009, to appearing on an anti-Chinese investment advertisement with Barnaby Joyce, he has pretty much done everything possible to lose my vote.
The truth is that I learned some history, became more partisan, paid more attention to issues, experienced post purchase behaviour and so on. If I hadn’t become more engaged, I strongly suspect he still would have lost my vote for not validating or understanding my decision to vote for him in the first place.
People justify irrational, illogical and emotional decisions through a logical and rational process.
Those who understand this point are far more in control of their destiny than people who think decisions are made through a logical and rational process alone. Things are always far more complex than they appear on the surface.