David, I believe that you have a point in the first part of your post. You obviously took Professor Stimson. He is big on rationality and emphasizes in his poli 41 class that voting is not a rational act. And so it is true that people vote out of a sense of duty rather than a belief that one vote out of millions will swing an election.
However, you kind of lost me on the rest of your post.
Rather, voting is a symbolic process whose main importance is to perform a social catharsis.
While a single vote may not affect a single election, voting is far more than “social catharsis.” Campaigns and policy changes change election outcomes. In 2000 Bush got 35% of the hispanic vote. In 2004 he got 45% of the hispanic vote. Why because of his weak stance on immigration. Single woman overwhelmingly vote Democrat. Why? Becuase Democrats are for killing the unborn and single women want to maintain that right.
So, voting is more than a social act.
There’s a power structure currently in place so heavily dogmatized that anyone, no matter what their intelligence or claims to morality, when placed into a political position, will almost always make the same exact decisions.
This claim is problematic. In 1979 the economy was in wreck, communism stood strong, and Americans were being held captive by Iranian terrorists. Then, in 1980, Ronald Reagan won the presidency. He cut taxes, lifted price controls and controls on interest rates and started building up the military. What happened after that? A prosperous economy and the fall of the Berlin Wall. What would have happened if Carter had stayed in office? Nothing. So, no, politicians are not all the same. It matters who wins an election.
None of us are so smart as to know who will be better or worse beforehand, so all we do is make guesses by voting in elections.
This is also problematic. We don’t know how people will act, but we do know how they have acted in the past and how they say they will act in the future. Furthermore, according to Stimson, who I had for Political Economy this past semester, when a candidate makes a specific claim, they usually follow up on it. For example, Bush said he would cut taxes and he did.
In addition, we know candidates’ ideology. A conservative will lead to lower taxes, more defense, and more conservative judicial nominees. A liberal will lead to the opposite. So, if you are a conservative, are you going to vote for the guy that wants to raise taxes and cut defense spending. Probably not.
Voting is much more than a social act. It is part of an important system we call democracy. A system that is probably the worst system of governance in the worlds except for all the other ones.