Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

More Unengaged Voters Is Not A Good Thing

With mid-term elections looming, every venue seems to be blaring with encouragement to vote. News venues; signs in the neighborhoods; the banners of social media sites like Facebook; all have been filled with encouragement first to register to vote, then to go out and cast your vote.

I'm all for people becoming more involved in understanding the issues and candidates and casting a well considered ballot, but I'd like to voice a note of contradiction in all this. We have a tendency to romanticize democracy. Surely the voice of the people is right and deserves to be heard! Not necessarily. In the words of Men In Black's Agent Kay: "People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it."

It is the delusion of many people that most others secretly agree with them, so perhaps they urge everyone to vote on the theory that if only everyone voted, even those lazy, disengaged voters who stayed at home and watched reality TV rather than going to the polls, then the candidates believe should have won would have.

And yet, it's the least engaged citizens, the citizens who don't read newspapers, don't watch debates, don't have a clear sense of what the parties are about, and tell interviewers that they voted for the candidate they "wanted to have a beer with" who are arguably most likely to be swayed by big money spent on campaign ads, by the panic of the moment, and by unformed impressions of which candidate is "strong" or "good" or "understands people like me".

As a republic governed by the people, for the people, we should not have legal or procedural barriers that seek to screen out voters based on some measure of how educated or involved in politics they are. If someone wants to cast an uninformed ballot, or even check boxes randomly, I support his right to do so. One person, one vote. But let's not romanticize the uninformed voter. If someone has so little regard for our government that he can't be bothered to show up on election day or in a near month long period of early voting and absentee voting leading up to it, chances are his grasp of the candidates and issues involved is tenuous at best. We don't need one more voter casting his ballot based on celebrity or impulse or what ads he happened to see.

What we need is more involved citizens, not just more voters. And if people aren't going to be involved and educated in their civic choices, it's not great loss if they don't vote either.


Foxfier said...

I want people to do a good job of voting.

Not just vote to vote. I remember high school, for heaven's sake.

Finicky Cat said...

Amen! Those campaigns leave me scratching my head, too.