Why Astrologers Can't Predict Elections

Liberal that I am, when astrologers at the United Astrology Conference in New Orleans this past May predicted that Obama would win re-election, I breathed a sigh of relief. After all, astrologers had overwhelmingly predicted not only President Obama's victory in 2008, but also President Kerry's in 2004, and President Gore's in 2000.

It's obvious that I'm not the only liberal among astrologers. But let's not jump to the conclusion that the astrologers who predict elections are all engaging in wish-fulfillment rather than doing quality astrology. There is another factor at work that makes prediction of a true election in a modern democracy impossible - at least to the extent that the public is truly given a chance to vote.

Predictive techniques work well when there is little conscious choice involved, as when an individual or a group is confronted with a problem in which there are limited acceptable solutions. Traditional societies tended to operate on autopilot: the number of options for action were very limited, usually to the choice between doing the right thing on the one hand, and shame, guilt, and punishment on the other. Given such restricted options, it's relatively easy to make predictions.

In the modern and postmodern worlds, not only is there a greater range of options to choose among, there is also the possibility of creating new options. New perspectives can be taken. New ideas and approaches to problems can emerge. Possibilities which literally do not exist in traditional societies begin to open up.

So, astrologers can apply whatever techniques they like, but at the end of the day concrete prediction is no more possible in a modern society than it is in a modern individual. There are too many choices to make, too many possibilities to create, and too many opportunities to shift perspective. There's room to change your mind.

That's why democracy only really emerges in modern societies in the first place - traditional societies don't recognize the choices involved. Astrologers can probably predict the rise and fall of kings and dictators. But elected officials in a true democracy have to remain a wild card - after all, if we could really predict who wins, it wouldn't be a democracy, would it?