I hate the term “low information voter”

In general I want to avoid politics. This blog isn’t about politics, it’s about your career, leadership, and trying to keep your sanity while earning a paycheck.

This isn’t about politics, it’s about attitude. That said, let me tell you something about politics. I love politics. They are my football. I follow the major players, I watch the parties, I vote. I’ve also paid very close attention to every election since 1992.

A very ugly trend started around 2000. It was around before then, but it really took off that year. When the election was over, whoever voted for the winner must have done so because they were easily misled. This is the implication. Essentially the belief put forth was that no one who wasn’t sane, smart, and informed could possibly have voted for the winner. Madness.

This culminated in 2012 with the term “Low Information Voter”.

Look, I know there are problems with the US Electorate but on the whole I don’t think they are stupid. I do think we have a large portion of the population who doesn’t care about politics as much as I do, and that’s ok. I know people who care more about healthy eating than I do, people who care more about exercise than I do, people who care more about science than I do, and so on and so forth. I truly believe there are a percentage of voters who will vote their party and the independents vote according to what matters to them. Along the way there is tons of misinformation on all sides that can mislead them, but that does not make them stupid or generally ill-informed. If anything, Americans in general have allowed this practice to continue so there is a certain consent to the misinformation campaign.

I am about to tie this back into work, jobs, and careers. Bear with me.

Assuming someone voted a certain way because they are a “low information voter” is condescending and more than a little arrogant. You are asserting that you are more intelligent and more informed than they are. That might be true, but you really have no evidence of that.

I see this attitude all the time at work and it is poison. People carry around this assumption that their department is righteous while another is incompetent. They don’t give co-workers a chance to prove themselves. The are quick to lay blame, quick to highlight mistakes, and gossip constantly. All too often I watch as individuals mount what they think is their moral high horse and just wonder how they can’t see that all they do is play in the sewer.

Thanks to the Internet we don’t ever have to read an opinion that we disagree with. With some careful selection I can make sure I only visit sites that reinforce what I already think. Fortunately, the real world is full of people who think differently than me. We are going to run across people who disagree with us, who think differently, who have a different culture, and are maybe just in a different place in their lives. Seeing the world from a different point of view does not make them “stupid” or misinformed.

Consider that somewhere someone probably thinks the same of you. Your first reaction is probably going to be “Not me! I’m not low information!” Except maybe that is the perception you give. It will certainly be the perception if you never want to get out of your little personal bubble and engage the world on its terms instead of your own.

I’ll be blunt. One of the secrets of my success is my ability to relate to people of all beliefs or cultures. I am fascinated by new perspectives and that has served me well. That also means I live my life outside my comfort zone all the time. While I don’t enjoy being uncomfortable, the experiences that has granted me has been rewarding and it has constantly signalled to others that I am someone they can go to. Isn’t that exactly what you want? Are you the go to person or are you the person people are avoiding right now because they are tired of your condescending attitude?

Figure it out quick, because if you are unfairly judging others it is probably hurting your career right now.

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Posted in Advice, Business, Career Management, Managing Employees
One comment on “I hate the term “low information voter”
  1. Justin Buck says:

    About the third sentence of this post, I started hearing organ music. Preach, brother! Preach!

    I’m more than a little disgruntled at both situations you describe here. Sore losers in elections and work will work hard to “divide and conquer”. To dip into politics, both sides play on the fears and broad sentiments of ill-informed voters. I just wish that those who were more passionate about health and exercise than I am would get involved in pushing more public parks and wellness facilities. I wish those more passionate about science would push for more meaningful and applicable research.

    In my work with young people, I always work to build up and encourage their unique ideas on how to make the world a better place. Whether I agree or disagree with their philosophy, I am passionate about getting them engaged with /whatever/ it is that makes them tick. In the same way, we should build our teams up to plug in where they might be most effective.

    Great post, Rob. If you’re ever in Hot Springs, Arkansas, we’ll have to grab a beverage and compare notes.

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