Why Do Politicians All Sound the Same?

Why Do Politicians All Sound the Same?


Have you ever wondered why politicians from
different parties, especially during presidential campaigns, end up saying exactly the same
stuff? It actually makes sense that they do. I can tell you why by explaining something
called the median voter theorem. Let’s assume you’re a Democratic politician
running for election. In a two-party majority rule system you’re going to need at least
one vote more than 50 percent to guarantee victory. Let’s say you start out holding a
position on the extreme Left. Will you win the race? Well, that obviously depends on
how voter preferences are distributed along the Left-Right continuum. Most of the time there will be voters all
along the spectrum from Left to Right. So looking at the spectrum of voter preferences,
who can you convince to vote for you? Democrats on the far Left have opinions a lot like yours.
So their vote should be easy to get. Then as you move slightly to the Right, you get
to the mainstream Democrats. You can probably count on a lot of their votes, too, even if
you’re more radical than they are on some issues. But what happens when you start moving into
the more conservative Democrats and Independents near the middle of the spectrum? Most of the
time you will need their votes in order to get over 50 percent, but their preferences
are so different from yours, they might refuse to vote for you. They might even be tempted
to vote for a Republican instead. So the only way you can help to get the votes
of the voters in the middle is by moving your own position toward theirs. In fact, if you
want to win, you will have to aim for the position of the median voter – the guy right
in the middle of the spectrum – because he’s the last voter you have to convince to get
the majority you need. Now this will take you pretty far from your
original position. Will the voters further to the Left still vote for you? In a two-party
system they probably will. You’re still closer to their position than the Republican candidate,
and, as we all know. there usually aren’t any other viable candidates out there. And your Republican opponent will be going
through the exact same process. If he wants to convince more than a small group of hardcore
Republicans to vote for him, he also needs to appeal to the people further to the Left
and ultimately, to the median voter. So that’s why all politicians end up saying exactly
the same stuff. In a two-party system with majority rule, the median voter is the prize
they’re all fighting for.

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100 thoughts on “Why Do Politicians All Sound the Same?”

  • Historically America has always had two parties or less. Nationalist v. Federalist; Federalists v. Anti-Federalists; Democratic Republicans v. Federalists; Democratic Reps v. Whigs, Known-Nothings, etc.

    I think the premise here is sound to an extent, but it's simplistic and ignores a lot of factors. Specifically that there are Conservative and Liberal Progressives who believe the same philosophy with different conclusions.

  • Because the 2nd Amendment allows violent people to keep the entire population of America in fear for our lives. "Gun rights" has effectively turned many parts of America into war zone. We don't live in a civilized country if so many people have to fear being shot at, robbed, murdered, etc. The 2nd Amendment fanatics literally are holding the country hostage.

    I don't believe in "gun control" or "gun laws". I believe in the only true solution: a total ban on ALL private firearms — even BB guns.

  • You are another one who believes that we should just let the American populace be saturated with deadly weapons, so that we can just shoot and kill each other whenever we feel like it. Hey, that's just how people are.

    Sometimes, I think of moving to Canada or Sweden or wherever. America today isn't my America. It's a disgrace. People flee 3rd world countries because of violence and robber barons. I want to flee America, a 3rd world country. But you actually will allow this? Are you happy?

  • Of course not — as unlikely as the rich paying their fair share. You have to take their guns, AND THEN MAKE SURE THAT THE PSYCHOPATHS NEVER GET GUNS AGAIN!

  • If Americans keep voting for Republicans, then America WILL go to hell. That is a known fact. As I have said before, the Democrats do have a little corruption and corporatism going on here and there, but this is ONLY because Reagan simply gave the government to the corporations. If we can get the money out of politics, and if we can take our democracy back from the top 1%, then the Democrats will not have to resort to such tactics to win, and they will make America great for the middle class.

  • No, voting for Democrats is NOT a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. It is a matter of choosing good over evil. The Democrats are not the "puppets" of anything or anyone. The Democrats really, really, really do represent the bottom 99%. The Democrats want healthcare and education for ALL. The Democrats want fairness and equality for ALL. How is that "evil"?

    In contrast, the Republicans truly are evil. They want to take away ALL social services.

  • Since when has a Republican actually done anything for our children? Bush created the No Child Left Behind Act, but ONLY because the Republicans want to change their image. Democrats don't have to change our image. We really, really, really do care about our children, and the American people know it! Have you ever heard Michelle Obama or Hillary Clinton give a speech about helping our children? You can feel their passion and sincerity!

    Democrats are not the lesser of two evils. We DO care!

  • This explanation presumes a bell-curved distribution on voters' preferences, which is a idealization in need of more empirical support. Also, I don't think this lady said anything most people don't know already, at least when it comes to national races as that of the presidential election. The location of the median in the ideological spectrum is fully determined by the population at stake, which is why local races are almost completely decided not by persuasion but by gerrymandering.

  • Actually they do call themselves Americans. They call themselves the original Americans. Everyone else rejects the European name for the continent.

    Your argument is pedantic and asinine.

  • The more I watch these videos, the more backward the American voting system appears to be. No preferences, no compulsory voting and no compulsory registration. Seems like the median voter doesn't even turn up to vote.

  • people from the United States call themselves Americans, people from Mexico- Mexicans, Canada- Canadians. You got called pedantic and asinine and now you like to look smart using those words. You are not fooling anyone, you are retarded, and have unimaginative arguments.

  • Yet, you are the one that has to resort to Ad-Hom in an effort to trying and dominate the conversation with brute force and coercion.

    Yeah, sorry you are the one that is being pedantic, perhaps you should look up that word?

  • You have your head so far up your ass my friend. I've never laid eyes across a more deluded set of words in my entire life.

    Anyone caught in the left and right nonsense is a tool for the state AND for corporations, which is a creation of the state.

    Obama was chosen by the corporations through campaign funds. No one in American political history got more corporate money than Obama did. Which is still besides the point.

    NDAA is not 'our only hope' so be quiet about Libs being 'the good guys.'

  • Or appointing ex Monstanto exec to head the FDA (Obama).

    A lot of us use to be liberals or conservatives, there is hope for Mr. GregoryTheGr8ster

  • no in reality the international bankers purchase most elections and they fund both or more sides so they maintain control of governments, only way for people to stop the nonsense is to cease funding of government, then those politicians which have violated the constitution can be held accountable to we the people for their treson

  • Well i think that argumente depends on where do you consider that the extremes are, because Ron Paul was a supporter of what is now understood as Libertarianism, and during his campain he did not gave up any principles of the libertarian ideals, he's a believer in individual freedom, both socially and economically, and so i consider that he stood up completely for what he believed, unlike what a middle guy would do.

    But again, it depends on where do you considere that the extremes are

  • RP didn't care about all their votes cause they're all statists.
    The further you go to the left the less economic freedom you get, the further you go to the right, the less personal freedom you get, and in the middle you get neither (to an extent, which is the diagonal line between totalitarian and libertarian/anarchist/voluntarist(like Ron likes to call it)). But in reality, there's no personal- withouth economic freedom and vice versa. The only thing that exists are statists and anarchists.

  • I thought all politicians sounded the same because we legalized bribery and lobbyists have bought everybody. i believe it was 95% of the time, the person who spends the most money, therefore brainwashing the most people, wins.

  • Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason

  • So politicians just say what the most voters want to hear? And they make sure that everybody hears them by spending enormous sums of money on their pr campaign. Which is given them by their corporate sponsors. Basically politician is a product, that should be sold to as much people as possible. Or i did get something wrong?

  • What did i get wrong then? Candidate has to convince majority of his party spectrum to vote for him. And if he want to win an election he has to convince the median voter by "moving your own position towards theirs" in other words telling them what they want to hear.

  • so… why you americans actually have only two parties? here in my country there are at least 5 parties on every election, sometimes they were more than 15!

  • Because it is a winner take all system instead of a parliamentary system. Seats are not awarded based upon a percentage of the vote, but rather whichever candidate receives the most votes (even when less than 50%) is the winner of the election. Any candidate entering the race beyond the two major parties will nearly always end up taking more votes away from the default options (D) or (R) and end up winning the election for whoever they took fewer votes from.

  • The median voter theorem is only relevant for one dimensional preferences (e.g. left/right) rather than multidimensional (e.g. economic policy preferences / social policy preferences).

  • So, what is the solution to winner-take-all elections? I support implementing proportional representation to the House of Representatives. X% of votes earns you X% of seats thus reflecting the electorate more honestly. If it had existed in the 18th century our forefathers would have chanted, "No taxation without proportional representation."

  • Because they're both doing what's necessary in order to maintain the broader global capitalist system. They both represent capital yet will differ some on social issues. Ron Paul was "shunned" because actual capitalists understand that free market theory is impossible.

  • This is laughably wrongheaded. If this was true we'd live in a world in which politicians actually expressed the views of the median voter, which would be an incalculable step forward for democracy. What happens in reality is that all politicians express the views of the ruling class of our societies, i.e. the rich. I think we can all agree that the rich are plainly NOT the median. What we should be AIMING for is a government which expressed the views of the median, i.e. most numerous voter!

  • "I don't know if you've noticed, but our political system is a bowl of shit looking in the mirror at itself." – Lewis Black

  • no Ron Paul did not it's one side bigger of Democrats and the middle is on the right side is smaller for Republicans. her logic is flawed Democrats thinking is more common. we all more not alike everyday by bit by bit. Ron Paul loss for that reason.

  • Ron Paul is laughed at by the establishment because they're already aware why classical liberals had to abandon free market rhetoric. It simply didn't work in reality and state intervention was necessary be it war or social programs. Lets not even get into fending off crisis (which you'll blame on state intervention). God I hate you people.

  • Could not have said it better myself! It is funny cause they collect there check after not working to earn it, and they still have the audacity to complain that those that do work keep too much of their money. Losers haha 🙂

  • your God I hate you people. why? in what I did? which you'll blame on state intervention? more why you judge and act as you know what I am thinking? do not use (God I hate) it will not help you.

  • I have much more respect for a politician who can explain his position, and why it is better than the one I currently hold, than a politician who tries to convince me we share the same opinion when we obviously don't.

  • The linear concept of far left to far right is EXTREMELY misleading. The far left and the far right have much more in common than they differ. For example, socialism is regarded as far left whilst Nazism is regarded as far right. Yet, the acronym Nazi contains the word 'socialist'. Perhaps a more informative image would be totalitarian (government as carer) versus minimal government ie the idea (held by the Founding Fathers) that the greatest threat to liberty is the government itself.

  • Maybe if we get rid of all of the extreme democrats and extreme republicans, REAL leaders like Ron Paul could actually win and REAL progress could be made

  • Neat bit of rhetorical B.S., sounds reasonable but its the opposite of reality.  Open your eyes!  Open yout ears!  The politician do the opposite of this — they make themselves sound far more different than they actually are.  They campaign as though they were different and will save you from the other guy.  Once in office they do the exact same things.   Obama is black Bush, Bush was white Obama — Obama campaigned on change than kept all of Bush's worst policies or expanded them.  Its a guarantee: Conservative will destroy freedom, liberals will destroy freedom — and they'll do it in mostly the same ways.  It all a game to create an illusion of choice, while conning people out of making a real choice for any other alternative and keep them voting for the big two.  So, neat rhetorical rationale for a phenomenon that is the exact opposite of what you see in real life.

  • Good empirical analysis of what has been put to paper (or fraud as some claim).
    Not good analysis in the grand scheme of things. 

    Most people seem indifferent and want not hence they don't vote. What does that say? Do they even have a say? Should they? Could their non-participation be evidence of their rejection of not simply the process but the institution itself, though when interrogated, might make simple excuses based on the lines established for them so they need not think deeply about the finer nuances of their surroundings?

    Food for thought.

  • The video has a good point, but the same phenomenon still occurs in a multi party system. You'll have several parties along the spectrum, but they're all basically saying the same things. Actually, they agree so much, that whatever debates you have will end up being over minuscule and absolutely irrelevant topics. Take the Norwegian parliamentary election this year, for instance, where a TV debate had leaders of seemingly widely different parties ending up discussing the politics surrounding one of our national foods, and the tone was bickering and whiny. Detached from any concept of differing ideas and differing world views, this becomes extremely typical. You agree about everything else except details regarding cooked lamb chops and cabbage. Differences of political opinions are simply differences in taste and feelings, not ideology or values.

    But why? Those who aim for power are rarely champions of ideas, but rather slaves of them, and that is why they will always follow the leading ideas in a society – the leading philosophy of the times. If you do not subscribe to the leading ideas, you are by default not able to gather the most votes. Swayed by the apparent consensus of ideas within the populace, parties will not (only) fight for the median voter, but (also) to become the symbol of the leading ideas. One could even argue that the median voter does not exist. In most western countries, a plurality of eligible voters belong to no party at all. They do not vote, often for a bunch of different reasons. However, the majority of people belong to parties who are lead by the same ideas (which then by default become all the parties you can vote for), and as such, differing ideas do not get any traction. The majority adheres to the same principles. As politics become a battle over power and not over ideas and values, political apathy ensues, and in the end, you might have a revolution.

    That's why one could argue that politicians aren't actually fighting over the median voter, but the median of the majority opinion – the ideas that rule society. And that is why all politicians in all parties – in their relative contexts all over the world – sound and do exactly the same, regardless of the party system. It's not because they change their ideas to appeal to more voters. There's not much there to change. The rhetoric may change in order to play with charisma, but their ideas and principles stay the same, because that is what rules society.

    You will be amazed to see just how much "the far left" and "the far right" in American politics actually sound more or less the same in terms of ideas and principles. They do actually agree on most everything! In the grand scheme of ideas, their differences are irrelevant – nothing but fun games for rhetorical analysts. They are all the same politicians with the same ideas (although there are a few exceptions here and there). This is why politicians all sound the same.

  • This would be all well and fine if districts were fair and balanced. But most are drawn to majority republican or majority democrat. In that case the candidate is usually focused on the  extreme base because they are more likely to turn out than an independent right? Also most people are politically ignorant, they vote based on the ads that blast their TV box during election time and otherwise have zero interest in politics.

    We have all had someone who goes out to vote for President but no interest in politics. They do not research, they do not look at other options they really don't give a damn. When I told my sister I was not voting for President Obama in his reelection bid she automatically assumed I was voting for Romney. She had NO idea there were other candidates. When it came time for city elections and propositions my family came to me to fill out their proposition papers and tell them what to vote for. These are the people who continue to vote the two parties that have shown incompetency and muck up our political system. In this case my family voted Democrat through and through. Want to know the sad part? Not one could name the three branches of government or name a third party.

  • I know this'll sound sour, yet the person who needs this video is really struggling to get what politics is.  If it'd covered lying and assuming people will forget promises made, then it would feel less like telling my grandmother how to suck eggs.
    A.G.

  • You missed the obvious point that if you stray too close to the center, you disenfranchise a lot of people and they abstain from voting altogether. Trying to please everyone makes you 'vanilla', and doesn't get your core constituents excited… it's a balancing act between keeping your party fired up enough to vote or encouraging the centrists to get off their butts and get to the voting booths.

    With so many people abstaining from voting, this is an important point I think.

  • It does not change much in a multi-party system. Here in Denmark we have about 8 parties fighting, organized into two "blocks". However 5 of these, if not 7, are actually quite lefty (big government, welfare, unions etc…) so regardless of the voting, it always ends with the same result. More power to the government.

    The problem with voting is when you can vote about everything.

  • There is no Left or Right — there is only freedom or tyranny.  Everything else is an illusion, an obfuscation to keep you confused and talking about the specified, yet worthless talking points, as the world burns around you.

  • This explains why the two parties always sound the same, but lets assume that Gary Johnson or Ron Paul were ever in the general election for a major party. I believe that either of them would have won hands down. Maybe I'm wrong. Thoughts?

  • This was very strange for me. Im starting to watch these Learn Liberty vids then suddenly my own professor just shows up. Apparently the classroom wasn't enough.

  • And this is why my name is Daniel Drigans and I'm running for a political office, stop the left goes here and right goes here, each issue is different, treat it different. Uphold the highest law of the land (the constitution, NOT THE FUCKING GOVERNMENT AGENCY'S THEY PULL OUT THEIR ASS AND CALL THEM CONSTITUTIONAL EVEN WHEN THEY ARE CLEARLY A DETRIMENT TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND ARE NOT HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR JACKSHIT. Stop it government you are not the goddamn boss of me and your not the highest law of my land and country even though you think you are, if you agree with me then vote for me, otherwise debate me and tell me how I've got it wrong.

  • They all sound the same because they all work for the same people (Jewish Bankers), and promote their agenda. So no matter who is selected/ I mean elected, they promote the agenda of the bankers. Politics is like wrestling, on camera they against each and enemies, but off camera they shake hands and work together, while their boss (the Bankers) give their paycheck and tell them good job, for keeping the people confused and divided. They all on the same team.

  • Incorrect. We are also in a first past the post system. In this system you only need the most votes. So throw an independent candidate in the race, and you can win by getting one more than a third of the vote. Many multi party system have the same problem, unless they have runoff elections which take more time and money.

  • If Texas decided to leave the so-called union I'd move there in a heart beat, unless of course my own state broke free too.

  • @Learn Liberty
    S U B S C R I B E R   D I S A P P O I N T M E N T !
    I've really enjoyed all of your videos….until now. Despite the main point of this video being accurate, at 1:45 she calls it a 2 party system & then uses the presupposition of " as we all know there usually aren't any other variable candidates." Perpetuating this crippling myth is a primary reason Americans trapped in this false paradigm & are blinded to the many other candidates that suffer media blackout!

  • This is one of the reasons the two parties want us to stay within this fallacious, oversimplified left-right spectrum.

  • In the U.K, we have 4 main parties, where(in my opinion) two of which are similar and the other 2 are completely different from the others. They all come up with rubbish, but they don't necessarily sound the "same"…
    Again, the following is my opinion, so please don't be offended if I say something you don't agree with:
    Liberal Democrats (Lib-dems) and conservatives (Tories) never keep their promises and tax everything
    Labour are quite popular with the working and lower-middle class, they still tax things but don't cut as many things as the lib-dems and Tories.
    The U.K Independence Party (UKIP) are not necessarily far right, but the want the U.K. to leave the European Union (EU) and stop/ prevent immigration.

    I won't be offended if you think otherwise, and if this taught you something, then remember this is not what each party (except UKIP) would say about themselves, and some may find this somewhat biast.

  • FPTP is hardly democratic, Proportional nation wide, with single transferable vote is the ONLY fair system!

  • The first past pole system is democratically infect. It's a shame the US (and Canada and the UK for that matter) don't take it down immediately!

  • This is why President Trump sounded different. He was not aiming at votes and catering a message. He had a message, communicated it, and let the chips fall where they would. That is why he does not loose his base. Most of us in his base have only ever voted once: for him!

  • And in the end everybody (except for the median voter) votes on something he/she doesn't really want. 😀 Majority of the votes with the demands of minority.