Discourage the Voters
Use your right to vote in a responsible manner. The most unpatriotic people of all encourage people to just vote in a flippant manner simply because they have the right to do so. Those unpatriotic people deserve to have their sins rubbed in their faces.
To express a similar sentiment in a kinder fashion, I bring you Mike Rowe.
I’m afraid I can’t encourage millions of people whom I’ve never met to just run out and cast a ballot, simply because they have the right to vote. That would be like encouraging everyone to buy an AR-15, simply because they have the right to bear arms. I would need to know a few things about them before offering that kind of encouragement. For instance, do they know how to care for a weapon? Can they afford the cost of the weapon? Do they have a history of violence? Are they mentally stable? In short, are they responsible citizens?
Casting a ballot is not so different. It’s an important right that we all share, and one that impacts our society in dramatic fashion. But it’s one thing to respect and acknowledge our collective rights, and quite another thing to affirmatively encourage people I’ve never met to exercise them. And yet, my friends in Hollywood do that very thing, and they’re at it again. Every four years, celebrities and movie stars look earnestly into the camera and tell the country to “get out and vote.”
They tell us it’s our “most important civic duty,” and they speak as if the very act of casting a ballot is more important than the outcome of the election. This strikes me as somewhat hysterical. Does anyone actually believe that Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen DeGeneres, and Ed Norton would encourage the “masses” to vote, if they believed the “masses” would elect Donald Trump? Regardless of their political agenda, my celebrity pals are fundamentally mistaken about our “civic duty” to vote.
There is simply no such thing. Voting is a right, not a duty, and not a moral obligation. Like all rights, the right to vote comes with some responsibilities, but lets face it – the bar is not set very high. If you believe aliens from another planet walk among us, you are welcome at the polls. If you believe the world is flat, and the moon landing was completely staged, you are invited to cast a ballot. Astrologists, racists, ghost-hunters, sexists, and people who rely upon a Magic 8 Ball to determine their daily wardrobe are all allowed to participate. In fact, and to your point, they’re encouraged.
The undeniable reality is this: our right to vote does not require any understanding of current events, or any awareness of how our government works. So, when a celebrity reminds the country that “everybody’s vote counts,” they are absolutely correct. But when they tell us that “everybody in the country should get out there and vote,” regardless of what they think or believe, I gotta wonder what they’re smoking.
Look at our current candidates. No one appears to like either one of them. Their approval ratings are at record lows. It’s not about who you like more, it’s about who you hate less. Sure, we can blame the media, the system, and the candidates themselves, but let’s be honest – Donald and Hillary are there because we put them there. The electorate has tolerated the intolerable. We’ve treated this entire process like the final episode of American Idol. What did we expect?
So no, I can’t personally encourage everyone in the country to run out and vote. I wouldn’t do it, even if I thought it would benefit my personal choice. Because the truth is, the country doesn’t need voters who have to be cajoled, enticed, or persuaded to cast a ballot. We need voters who wish to participate in the process. So if you really want me to say something political, how about this – read more. Spend a few hours every week studying American history, human nature, and economic theory. Start with “Economics in One Lesson.” Then try Keynes. Then Hayek. Then Marx. Then Hegel. Develop a worldview that you can articulate as well as defend. Test your theory with people who disagree with you. Debate. Argue. Adjust your philosophy as necessary. Then, when the next election comes around, cast a vote for the candidate whose worldview seems most in line with your own.
Or, don’t. None of the freedoms spelled out in our Constitution were put there so people could cast uninformed ballots out of some misplaced sense of civic duty brought on by a celebrity guilt-trip. The right to assemble, to protest, to speak freely – these rights were included to help assure that the best ideas and the best candidates would emerge from the most transparent process possible.
Remember – there’s nothing virtuous or patriotic about voting just for the sake of voting, and the next time someone tells you otherwise, do me a favor – ask them who they’re voting for. Then tell them you’re voting for their opponent. Then, see if they’ll give you a ride to the polls. In the meantime, dig into “Economics in One Lesson,” by Henry Hazlitt. It sounds like a snooze but it really is a page turner, and you can download it for free.
~ Mike Rowe
Mr Rowe wants you to read “Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt and I also want you to read it. I’ve never read it and Amazon doesn’t sell it for free but the real reason I want you read it is so you can purchase it via my Amazon link. Because I want to buy and read more books, listen to audiobooks, and hopefully buy a new car. Click the image of the book and buy the book.
I only have our best interests at heart, admittedly mine more than yours.
Let’s continue with the issue at hand.
Voting is a Constitutional right and was literally secured with the blood of warriors and the forethought of our Founders. Ultimately the franchise was extended from property owners and males to women and any intransigent citizens. Some days I question the wisdom of later politicians in the application of universal suffrage but I tell you the truth: racial discrimination in disallowing the vote is horrible and recent public murmurs to repeal the 19th Amendment are just moronic.
The Baron, a friend of mine and like myself a retired political operative, wrote the following:
I find it strange that people are shocked and appalled by the calls on Twitter from the TrumpPets to repeal the 19th amendment. As if this is news instead of just officially noting what has been said out in the open for years.
I’ve had numerous republican activist women over the years tell me that they would gladly support this and give up their right to vote if it meant no more democrats would get elected. They’ve told me that “women vote for stupid reasons”, and that’s not a paraphrase.
There were also a substantial number of Republican men and women who told me that in the 2010 Michigan’s Secretary of State GOP convention race, they were supporting Ruth Johnson over Cameron Brown because “Secretary is Women’s Work”.
Of course when this is casual conversation among the GOP faithful, understanding why some of Trump’s other “comments” would be considered “locker room talk” doesn’t seem so far fetched, even if a wildly inaccurate assumption…. Not just a generational thing either, age 18 or 80 the message didn’t change.
He is not wrong. The Trump campaign cycle has taken the stuff we normally know to be so embarrassing that we only pass it around in small rooms and closed circles and aired it.
Voting is civil engagement. The level of civil engagement and the quality of your own deliberation in that engagement are choices and making the wrong choice is a moral failure. Failing to research policies and candidates and the likely results of your own vote is truly a half-measure in your own civic participation.
In other words, if you’re not an informed voter, but you’re still a voter, then you’re firing a weapon aimlessly (figuratively speaking). You’re taking action without proper regard to consequences. Jonah Golderg wrote about this in 2007 for his Los Angeles Times column. I agree with Jonah Goldberg.
the data have long been settled. A very high percentage of the U.S. electorate isn’t very well qualified to vote, if by “qualified” you mean having a basic understanding of our government, its functions and its challenges. Almost half of the American public doesn’t know that each state gets two senators. More than two-thirds can’t explain the gist of what the Food and Drug Administration does.
Now, the point isn’t to say that the American people are stupid, which is the typical knee-jerk reaction of self- absorbed political junkies. Rather, it’s that millions of Americans just don’t care about politics, much the same way that I don’t care about cricket: They think it’s boring. Ask me how cricket works and I’m likely to respond with the same blank, uncomprehending stare my old basset hound used to give me when I asked him to chase a Frisbee. Ask the typical American to explain, say, what a cloture vote is, and you’ll get the same.
And yet, even to suggest that maybe some people just shouldn’t vote is considered the height of un-Americanism
Naturally the height of un-Americanism is to vote without information. Yet that’s contrary to the common civic doctrine.
democracy is at the core of our secular faith. But surely even democracy voluptuaries can appreciate that faith-based ideologies can be taken too far. We do not let children vote, yet no serious person would argue that our democratic values are significantly undermined because we bar 10-year-olds from the voting booth.
Voter turnout fanatics concerned with more than mere aggrandizement for the Democratic Party argue that voting is of itself a sign of civic health. But doesn’t it matter why you vote?… So, maybe, just maybe, we have our priorities wrong. Perhaps cheapening the vote by requiring little more than an active pulse (Chicago famously waives this rule) has turned it into something many people don’t value. Maybe the emphasis on getting more people to vote has dumbed-down our democracy by pushing participation onto people uninterested in such things. Maybe our society would be healthier if politicians aimed higher than the lowest common denominator. Maybe the opinions of people who don’t know the first thing about how our system works aren’t the folks who should be driving our politics, just as people who don’t know how to drive shouldn’t have a driver’s license.
Instead of making it easier to vote, maybe we should be making it harder. Why not test people about the basic functions of government? Immigrants have to pass a test to vote; why not all citizens?
A voting test would point the arrow of civic engagement up, instead of down, sending the signal that becoming an informed citizen is a valued accomplishment. And if that’s not a good enough reason, maybe this is: If you threaten to take the vote away from the certifiably uninformed, voter turnout will almost certainly get a boost.
Does a right to vote mean that the ability to vote should be easily wielded?
Democrats often argue that voting should be easy and swift, very convenient or voter suppression has occurred.
Things that require careful deliberation should be cast as hard work. Voting responsibly requires careful deliberation and if you’re not fully engaged enough to learn then you’re doing your own country a massive disservice. Why is it that the Left wants to portray voting as something divorced from careful deliberation?
Republican lawmakers in Michigan passed legislation this year to join the ranks of states that have done away with the antiquated practice of straight-ticket voting. Democrats used the judicial system to undermine the legislature (arguably taking a direct shot at representative democracy) because the practice benefits Democrat politicians and really for no other reason.
Ballotpedia defines straight ticket voting thusly:
Straight-ticket voting, also known as straight-party voting, enables a voter to select one political party’s complete slate of candidates for every office by making a single mark on his or her ballot. As of October 2016, 10 states provided for straight-ticket voting. The term may also be used informally to refer to the practice of a voter individually selecting candidates belonging to a single party
I stopped voting straight party or straight ticket when members of my own Party started offending me. For practical purposes voting in each election down the ballot doesn’t take much more time than voting for the party with one check mark. It literally does not take much more time to check several boxes as opposed to just the one. That it does take slightly more time is obvious, and that was the legal basis for the Democrats to successfully challenge the new law: that it made it more difficult for people to vote. Their secular faith really does declare that voting must be as easy as possible to indeed be a right.
Now apparently Michigan must have straight ticket voting or people are being oppressed, right? So people’s votes are being suppressed in every state except the folllowing:
Alabama Oklahoma Indiana* Pennsylvania Iowa South Carolina Kentucky Texas Michigan** Utah
Alabama, bastion of liberty and equality, everyone!
The Democrats were very open about their opposition to the “ban” on straight-ticket voting. The lawyer suing to ban the ban was Mark Brewer, former chair of the Michigan Democrats.
Mark Brewer, a lawyer in the case and former head of the Michigan Democratic Party, argued that the elimination of straight-party voting would likely have a larger impact on African-American voters, noting “extremely high” correlations between the size of the African-American voting population within a district, and the use of straight-party voting in that district.
Essentially Mr Brewer argued people voted straight-party because they were African-American and therefore if there was no straight ticket voting then African-Americans could not vote. That reasoning is asinine whore shit. Naturally a left-wing judge echoed the sentiment only with the added weight of legal codification.
The real question that the Court must answer is whether the burdens caused [by SB 0013] ‘are in part caused by or linked to ‘social and historical conditions’ that have produced or currently produce discrimination against African Americans[.]’ … This question is unavoidably answered in the affirmative. African-Americans are much more likely to vote Democrat than other ethnic groups, and many feel this is largely due to racially charged political stances taken by Republicans on the local, state and national level since the post-World War II era
The judge desired to keep what he considered to be Democrat voters. I wonder how he votes. That said, I can appreciate that Democrats don’t hide their particular doctrine regarding voter access.
Some local election officials and state Democrats opposed the law, arguing that it would “disenfranchise voters, who become frustrated by long lines and are forced to leave before voting.” Ron Bieber, chair of the Michigan chapter of the AFL-CIO, said, “Instead of creating new barriers to the ballot box, [the legislature] should be working to expand access to voting through no-excuse absentee voting and expanded early voting.
Arguably Mr Bieber actually desires a situation where he and his can exert greater influence over others’ vote. Let’s take the opposite premise though. Democrats simply desire access and want more people to vote regardless of care. Jonah Goldberg again:
Since the civil-rights era, Americans have been indoctrinated with the message that voting is the essential yardstick of citizenship. Editorialists, civics teachers, and an assortment of deep-thinking movie stars residing in Periclean Hollywood have gone to great lengths to tell Americans that voter apathy is, in and of itself, a terrible evil and that, conversely, high voter turnout is a sign of civic health. Indeed, for several years, voting-rights activists have been pushing to give prison inmates and younger teenagers the right to vote, presuming that giving rapists, killers, and Justin Timberlake fans a bigger say will improve our democratic process. The push to make voting much easier has been considerably less controversial. Weekend voting, voting by mail and online voting are constantly greeted as vital reforms of our electoral system. And although some of these reforms are probably benign, all assume that even the slightest inconvenience in voting is an outrage because democratic health is purely a numbers game: More voters equals a healthier society. My own view is that voting should be more difficult because things of value usually require a little work. That goes for citizenship too.
It’s a very clear difference. If voting is difficult then qualified voters will engage themselves appropriately. The left view is that if voting is difficult then their own voters are not up for the task. Now the more charitable view is also an accurate one: long lines discourage voting. If the act of voting takes time then citizens may decide that another course of action is a better use of their time and the Democrats simply cannot have their base do anything other than vote for Democrats. That reason is the only reason why they want voting to be as quick as possible.
The truth is that straight ticket voting is barely quicker than checking all the boxes, but checking all the boxes runs the risk of careful deliberation and the Democrats don’t want to take that chance.
Nominally with a topic like this I wouldn’t want to get too partisan, even to assign ideological motivations, let alone partisan strategy. The reality is that despite my lofty intentions the doctrine regarding whether access to the ballot box should be easy or difficult comes down along a left-right divide. Whether Republicans and Democrats adopt laws or attempt to shift voter laws to favor themselves is never something I am comfortable suggesting or discussing however it’s indisputable that the purpose of a political party and a candidate is to win an election, sometimes at (almost) any cost.
It’s naive to suggest Republicans or Democrats wouldn’t grab at any advantage available. Yet it’s philosophically convenient that the conservative thinker and the far-left operative take directly opposing views.
I’m generally of the mindset that we should not restrict the franchise ever.
It’s a bad idea, however, to encourage people to vote if they don’t really want to, if they don’t possess an intention on the ballot.
I’m always willing to revisit the idea, every two years let’s say.
The reason why careful deliberation is repeated as the mantra is that a voter, with intention or otherwise, is briefly a steward of the public trust.