Often the most fanciful ideas become the least questioned assumptions. In this election season a few have made themselves apparent, such as the notion that “change” is good by definition and “experience” is definitely good. Yet an even better example is the oft-repeated platitude that greater voter participation yields a healthier republic.
Ah, I’ve transgressed against dogma, but let’s be logical. Most of us agree that having an educated populace is a prerequisite for a sound democratic republic. We also know that not everyone is well-educated. Thus, it cannot be a good thing for everyone to vote. For those of you who had trouble following that line of reasoning, please remember that Election Day is November 5.
And one needn’t be disenchanted with universal suffrage to agree. It’s one thing to have one man, one vote; it’s quite another to have one man, one obligation to vote. Yet we still hear that it’s our “civic duty” to go to the polls. Well, no, actually, it’s a civic duty to make ourselves worthy to do so.
This “vote first, ask questions later” idea reaches the very nadir of inanity when it manifests itself in get-out-the-vote drives, which can quite correctly be defined as an effort to rally the idiot vote disguised as a noble exercise in democracy. Yet whether the call to the polls is organized or incidental, I would always make the same point: If people don’t have the initiative to get out and vote without prodding, it follows that they don’t have the greater initiative necessary to inform themselves on the issues; thus, they shouldn’t vote. As I said years ago in “Get-out-the-dopes Drives”:
“. . . this is a problem that takes care of itself when we let nature take its course. Those who don’t care may not inform themselves, but more often than not a result of that will be that they won’t vote, so no harm done. The problem arises when we put the cart before the horse and encourage those who can’t yet drive to take the wheel.”
This is no minor point. When people don’t vote, it’s for the same reason why they don’t repair cars, fly planes or perform brain surgery.
They’re not interested in those things.
This is important because, generally speaking, interest is a prerequisite for competency. How often have you met someone who became adept at something through disinterest? “You know, I don’t like playing the piano, but one day someone convinced me to tickle the ivories and my fingers started playing Mozart’s Concerto No. 9.” When you hear that, let me know.
Really, we delude ourselves. We see a lot of posturing about getting people “engaged in the process,” but it’s all talk. A process is just that, a process, “a systematic series of actions directed to some end” , while voting is simply an action. Or perhaps we could say it’s a reaction – catalyzed by one’s own knowledge and passion.
If people really were interested in the health of the “process,” they would start at the beginning of that “systematic series of actions” – which is the step whereby you encourage people to care, study and inform themselves – not at the end with voting. They would understand that once this step was tended to, people would naturally cast ballots, as it is merely a by-product of personal political health.
Yet we entertain the folly that for some mysterious, inexplicable reason everyone should participate, that it’s a good thing, regardless of how ignorant or ill-informed he may be. Well, why don’t we apply this to others matters? We might as well say that if everyone flies a jumbo jet, air travel will somehow be better; we should assume that if everyone performs brain surgery, medical care will somehow improve. Why? Well . . . participation is the answer! That is enough.
Does it sound ridiculous? It’s no more so than asserting that having everyone vote will yield a healthier nation. What we should do is take the Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm.” This applies not just to those too ill-informed to vote but also those ill-informed enough to encourage them to do so.
You can call me an elitist, but it’s getting easier to achieve that designation all the time. Study after study after study has revealed an appalling lack of historical knowledge among American youth – which carries over to adulthood – and our grasp of significant current events is no better. Quoting author of The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby, The Wall Street Journal writes,
“(One poll that [sic] found more than three years into the Iraq war, only 23 percent of those with some college could locate Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel on a map . . . .)”
Moreover, many aren’t any better at navigating the political map – some people don’t even know the name of our vice president (hard to believe, but true). Despite this, there still are those who would convince the uninformed to vote, even though when pulling the lever at a polling place, the latter have no more grasp of the consequences of their actions than if they were to pull one in a casino.
Yet, when some encourage the ignorant to vote, there is method to their madness. The people I speak of do in fact care about the “process,” it’s just that their process – that “systematic series of actions directed to some end” – probably isn’t the same as yours. This is because they seek a very different end: The attainment of power.
The people I refer to are liberals.
It’s well known that the greater the voter turn-out, the more likely it is that liberal politicians will prevail. Thus, liberals reason that low turn-out is bad because it’s bad for them. This, of course, means it’s good for America.
Many will bristle at what I’ve said, but just take a look at how liberals plumb the depths of the barrel for votes. They want convicts and the homeless (many of whom are mentally ill, a perfect leftist constituency) to vote; they aggressively get out the vote in urban wastelands, their strongholds, which are plagued by crime, drug use and high abortion rates; and their constituencies are people such as homosexuals and others with aberrant lifestyles. Liberals in California were even advocating pubescents’ suffrage: Giving 14-year-olds the right to cast ballots. So, it’s funny. It used to be said that the Democrats were the party of the common man. The truth is that they’re the party of the uncommon man.
And there is an irony here, one I’d like to ask our liberal friends about. I know you believe you’re much smarter than we traditionalists, as you often attribute the embrace of our ideology to stupidity. I was, in fact, once told by a certain bit-part, liberal actor (forgive the redundancy) that I just wasn’t as “evolved” as he was.
Thus, I wonder about something. How is it that, with few exceptions, the more degraded, immoral, criminally inclined, immature, and ignorant voters are, the better it is for liberal candidates? If these normally apathetic people are in fact voting correctly, as you liberals assert, to what do you attribute it? Beginner’s luck? And does this make you liberals question your ideology at all? Does it make you think, even for a moment, that maybe you’re on the wrong side?
I won’t hold my breath waiting for a good answer, but I will mention another irony. Liberals are completely taken with gun control; some of them even say that no one but the police should own firearms. Yet they believe that people too irresponsible to have their finger on the trigger should influence the choice of who will have his finger on the button.