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Thoughts on Voting, Handguns, & Chimps

As random voter registration drives get underway, I think this is a very well stated argument against mindlessly saying that any random voter participation is a good thing.

It’s all well and good to encourage eligible citizens to select who will govern them, but what chaps me is that nowhere in this get-out-the-vote fervor — which will only increase as November approaches — will we hear anyone suggest that before someone tramps to the voting booth, he ought to educate himself.

Educate himself about what? There’s plenty for that list. Economics. Public policy. The actual records of the actual candidates. Hell, the actual names of the candidates. All this would be an improvement over what the average student knows about history, politics, and most important, the principles that undergird freedom and prosperity.

It’s a curious position, vote-for-voting’s-sake, given that the same voices calling for it tend to favor insuring that students know in exquisite detail every possible birth control option available in the Western hemisphere. They recognize, in other words, that action in ignorance is inherently dangerous.

We were just commenting about this issue locally. In 2008, there was a line outside our polling place for the precincts that held various apartment complexes in the area. It filled the voting room, went down one somewhat short hall, filled a very long hallway, and then still left about 40 people outside. It seemed like the Obama get out the vote efforts were strong in those complexes. However, in any other national election, you’ll only see a short little line coming out of their voting area at the school. In the primaries and local/state-only elections, the room is close to empty. In other words, these aren’t people who are paying attention to elections or issues. They only show up sporadically when told to do so by someone else. We wonder how long the line will be for those precincts this year.

In the linked piece, Tony Woodlief finishes with this thought:

Here’s a thought experiment: imagine that, statistically speaking, whenever droves of students rushed to the polls, they pulled the lever for the candidate who most favors limited government. Does anyone for a hot half-second doubt that Mr. Sanchez, rather than brainstorming ways to make voting more like ordering a pizza, would instead want to treat it more like buying a handgun?

And that’s how we should at least to think about it, which is to say that we ought no more encourage someone who doesn’t know what the Constitution is to vote than we ought to give a chimpanzee a shotgun. In either case you’re not exactly sure what we’ll happen, but chances are it won’t be pretty.

6 Responses to “Thoughts on Voting, Handguns, & Chimps”

  1. DirtCrashr says:

    If J. Randy McVoter were educated to begin with they would already be votin’ – the Drive is a cattle-drive to herd and push the marginal and easily $wayed into the Votestream and collect the benefits they are told will accrue to them if they vote a certain way. In Chicago the dead vote, this is for Zomnbie voters.

  2. mikee says:

    Let the market decide, I say. Let every eligible voter be registered as easily as possible, and make voting as easy as possible, consistent with prevention of vote fraud, which should be as secure as possible.

    That way, we can educate, we can proselytize, we can propagandize, we can get out the vote, and so on.

    If we can’t win in a fair election using our positions, we deserve to lose until we find a way to improve our message or our methods of delivering it.

    I won’t stand for a second the idea that we should limit the rights of other citizens because we think their ideas are unsound. That is what the other side does, not us.

  3. Alpheus says:

    Mikee, the point isn’t to forbid groups from voting. The point is that, unless we’re also making an effort to educate people about the issues, we shouldn’t be pushing people out to vote. Otherwise, ignorance results.

    For true “free market” voting, I would propose that we vote by public affidavit, and if we decide we don’t like our representative, we can change to a different one by cancelling our affidavit, and giving a different affidavit to our preferred candidate. If a given representative loses enough people, that person is no longer a candidate, effective immediately.

    I call such a system “continuous elections”. There are issues that need to be addressed with it, but I won’t address them in this tiny comment.

  4. Zermoid says:

    And that’s how we should at least to think about it, which is to say that we ought no more encourage someone who doesn’t know what the Constitution is to vote than we ought to give a chimpanzee a shotgun. In either case you’re not exactly sure what we’ll happen, but chances are it won’t be pretty.

    Proven positively in 2008.

  5. Caragosquid says:

    That assumes that people vote the issues. Evidence proves otherwise. People choose candidates for emotional reasons. Politics is sales. Sales are emotional. People rationalize their purchase.

    No amount of issues knowledge would have changed the vote of African Americans in the last election. No amount of knowledge will change the opinions of most voters because of confirmation bias. It takes effort and critical thinking so most go with what “sounds” right. Thus, we have the success of the Democrat party.

  6. Stretch says:

    It is a pity “literacy test” has been forever branded OMG THAT’S RACIST!!11!
    All prospective voters should pass the same citizenship test (legal) immigrants take.

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