According to investopedia, the Wisdom of crowds is the idea that large groups of people are collectively smarter than individual experts when it comes to problem-solving, decision making, innovating and predicting.
This is an interesting phenomenon that shows the founders were smart to set up a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”. It’s origin is mentioned in this article by John Kay (which extends this idea to the extreme):
In 1906, the great statistician Francis Galton observed a competition to guess the weight of an ox at a country fair. Eight hundred people entered. Galton, being the kind of man he was, ran statistical tests on the numbers. He discovered that the average guess (1,197lb) was extremely close to the actual weight (1,198lb) of the ox. This story was told by James Surowiecki, in his entertaining book The Wisdom of Crowds.
Don’t believe this? NPR ran a competition recently, and the results validated Galton’s observation. The truth is that the aggregate wisdom of the people is better than any single person’s.
Kay’s article goes on to extrapolate how the whole, “guess the weight of the ox” competition might be subverted into something completely unrecognizable. Alas, while his article is about the stock market, many of the same principles apply to our elections. People have all sorts of ways of amplifying their voices (social media, money, television ads, etc.). In essence, it is no longer “one person, one guess (as to who the right people are to run our government)”. Still, those amplifications can be drowned out by the public at large. There are over 153 million people registered to vote in the United States. If all of us voted, Galton’s observation would be just as true today as it was in 1906.
And if this isn’t enough to motivate you to vote, consider:
One person’s vote probably won’t change course of an election. But a few thousand votes — or even a few hundred — certainly can. Consider, for instance, the famous election between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000. Once the polling was over, Florida had to recount its votes. In the end, Bush won by 537 votes. That difference decided who became president of the United States.“4 research-backed ways to get people to vote” by Bethany Brookshire
Suppose you’d wanted (subconsciously) Al Gore to be President, and you lived in Florida and didn’t voted. If you didn’t, there were probably 537 other people who thought as you did and also didn’t vote. And now you, collectively, determined the direction of the country for the next four years. Now that’s power!