Being a student from a economics background when one comes across and article co-authored by two Nobel laureates you get the urge to read it, especially when you find that it has been trending on twitter you feel there must be something spectacular about it something path breaking which most of us while watching the US presidential race might have missed, but the tweets say something else so you get down to reading it as you first thing in the morning after the compulsive social media surfing.
The article I am referring to is an opinion piece in New York Times published on 28th April on “How Majority Rule Might Have Stopped Donald Trump” by Eric Maskin and Amartya Sen and mark my word it’s anything but disappointing and instead of taking up facts all it does is speculative on what if with a major chunk of biased opinions without substance.
There is sure so much noise about Donald Trump and his rise and the intellectuals might not be happy to see him where he is now. It’s surprising, shocking or as some may say it was always coming, whatever you may call it but you cannot deny it. And instead of finding plausible reasons as to why he rose and what he had what others didn’t they have made the debate on how the system is at fault for such a rise and not the people or the country. The Article talks about how plurality is the reason that Trump is winning and had it been a majority he would have lost and to this they establish a link to 2014 Indian elections that the same had taken place and the BJP along with its allies managed only 39% of the vote share.
The problem with the argument is that they are basing their assumption on things that never happened. And how can they be so sure that had it been a ranking mechanism Donald Trump would have lost. How do you know voters preference. Predicting voters behavior is far the most difficult task and opinion polls have normally failed in most cases. What if the votes division they talks about would have gone to Trump would they still have then had this argument over plurality. They do realize that the voting systems are at fault yet they still write about it seems that there is a bias in their argument or they are trying too hard to justify Trump’s rise as a systematic fault and nothing to do with the state that America is becoming. In a way they are taking a jibe at the people an overwhelming number who support Trump.
Also they being at a high level of intellect forget what it is to be a normal voter or how voting take place for that matter in India a country with 800 million voters. How is the voter supposed to tackle such a complex voting process of ranking and the amount of money and time it will take in compiling result? In India where illiteracy is still high and party symbols more than candidates are the determining factor how feasible it is to have a ranking system. It’s so unexpected of Amartya Sen if not Eric Maskin who knows about the ground reality of politics and society in India yet he draws comparisons of the India elections with the US election system is uncalled for from a man of his caliber and intellect.
Yet the article doesn’t fail to take pot shots at the present government without talking about the historical mandate that it provides and had it been a two man race like the US than there was and still there isn’t a leader who could challenge Mr. Modi in his candidature. And had they tried to come up with a hypothetical voting scheme as they had in case of Trump for India, I am sure it would have been Mr. Modi all the way again and thus they tried not to apply that. For if anything one things that can be said that at the moment there is no leader who is even close to the charisma of Mr. Modi and had it been a two way fight or a ranking system in case of multiple individuals (both of which are not possible in India) he would have triumphed by even more overwhelming margins.
The article instead of being an additional to the knowledge pool reeks of bias and speculations, yet Dr. Sen and Dr. Maskin are Nobel men can we have a voting on that too.