Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Please Vote for Me - How Election Change Human Behavior

Last night, while every TV channel was showing Obama's inauguration speech and the never-ending series of inaugural balls, I ended up on KQED, local PBS channel, which had this striking documentary called "Please Vote for Me". The premise is:
In an elementary school in the city of Wuhan in central China, three eight-year old children compete for the position of Class Monitor. Their parents, devoted to their only child, take part and start to influence the results.
Here's a clip - check your local PBS station to see airtime

What's insane is how the candidates' behavior towards their classmates changes. Without any coercing, they start forming alliances, offer bribes for votes, become rude and even demeaning to their opponents -- all in all, pretty disturbing traits for eight-year old's. Then things get worse as their parents get involved in shaping their campaign strategy and speeches.. and we wonder why Karl Rove was (and probably still is) so sought after by candidates.

Election to these children mean their own friends need to make a choice -- who do their friends like the most? And these three candidate go through excruciating emotional torture trying to deal with this, asking their friends to make the choice, and even sell them on it by any means possible.

Maybe it is just wrong to have such young children go through this sort of experience. They just acted out their normal reaction to the situation, probably made worse by their parents' participation. As they mature, they'll be better able to mask their emotions and act more cordially and keep a straight face when they try these questionable tactics to win the election. But I can't help but wonder -- if these children's behavior is any indicator of normal reaction of a human being running in an election -- God help all these candidates we have running for offices deal with their demons.

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