I Always Do What Celebrities Tell Me

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Leo and gang tell me not to vote (at least they do when remixed by reason.tv), and so I shan't.

In today's Ottawa Citizen, reason contributor Will Wilkinson praises Canadian apathy. This cycle's 59 percent turnout was the lowest in the nation's history:

We humans are adversarial beings, easily riled by us-versus-them conflict. (Even Canadians!) Democratic politics is a wonderful way to peacefully channel social antagonism into ritual symbolic warfare. High voter turnout is as likely to reflect angry social division as it is to augur the reign of Kumbaya social cohesion.

Indeed, lower levels of turnout may suggest that voters actually trust each other more—that fewer feel an urgent need to vote defensively, to guard against competing interests or ideologies. Is it really all that bad if a broad swath of voters, relatively happy with the status quo, sit it out from a decided lack of pique?

Amen.

NEXT: Fear of a Unified Government

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  1. Yeah. Unless they aren’t voting for the same reason I’m not. Whatever you choose, you still loose.

  2. If only voter apathy counted for something. I do think it’s great to live where most people are doing just fine, and don’t feel like their well being is in jeopardy or that a certain politician could make things much better. Elections should require a quorum, so those who are happy with the way things are can exercise their vote for no one.

  3. Indeed, lower levels of turnout may suggest that voters actually trust each other more-that fewer feel an urgent need to vote defensively, to guard against competing interests or ideologies.

    That has to be one of the more absurd theories I’ve read regarding non-voting.

    I don’t even know what to say to it.

  4. My primary complaint about the government is that they are so omnipresent, involved in every minutia of life, that I feel compelled to vote.

  5. Elections should require a quorum, so those who are happy with the way things are can exercise their vote for no one.

    Interesting idea.

  6. Is it really all that bad if a broad swath of voters, relatively happy with the status quo, sit it out from a decided lack of pique?

    Lack of pique is okay. Lack of any good alternatives sucks.

  7. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to listen, does it make a sound?

    If no one votes in an election, does that mean everyone is content?

    If a comment thread is empty, does that mean everyone on the Internet agrees?

  8. I just wish every citizen was informed enough and had the will to go vote. since a democracy works best when everyone votes. to the people who are not voting because they feel it is wasted, it is NEVER wasted to vote your heart and beliefs, even if they have no shot at winning. IMHO if you do not vote, and vote with your heart. you have NO ROOM TO COMPLAIN as you were part of the problem!
    but thats just my .02
    Vote Libertarian and send a message to the republicrats!

  9. It’s not apathy, it’s the ability to understand math.

    When the electorate totals about 30K, one vote has some meaning. When the electorate gets much larger than than that, influence peddling is what matters.

    If the Houe Of Represenatives had 10,000 members (one per every 30K citizens), a company spending $5M on lobbying efforts realizes they have far too many palms to grease at an average of only $500 bucks to make any difference. So they’d say “fuck it” and just keep the $5Mil.

    A 10K HofR wouldn’t be chaotic at all it would be more efficient as there would be too many people for pork barrel horse trading deals to get done; it would take LESS time for them to talk to each of their contituents than it would be to try to make deals with other reps. The Senate would still be an exclusive club, but one corrupt house is better than two.

  10. Too bad early voting already happened. It would be kinda cool if no one in the entire country voted. Then again, it would be exactly the same as if everyone voted. Whatever team has the better hackers wins.

  11. some fed,
    What is the sound of one poster making all the comments on a thread?

  12. Invisible Finger,
    Actually, I think that a 10k member House would just be 9565 more thieves.

  13. Paul,
    Actually, I think republics work best when stupid people forget it’s election day and smart people know not to remind them.

  14. I’m one who believes that voting is a relatively minor act, in the sense that it is almost statistically impossible that your one vote will change the election result, especially in statewide races. Therefore everyone should vote for who they prefer the most. If everyone voted for the candidate they liked the best instead of getting hung up in the “lesser of two evils” argument, we’d have a different system and viable alternative parties.

    However, while people have the right not to vote, I don’t see exactly what that accomplishes. By not voting, you aren’t explicitly saying “I don’t like any of these choices” or “I don’t want to vote” or “I don’t believe in voting,” you simply become a statistic in the non-voter turnout percentage, lumped in with the people who don’t care about politics or candidates. The act of not voting doesn’t move the country’s policy in any way. It would be better if “principled non-voters” could organize and agree to write in Mickey Mouse or Pink Panther or some other fictional, non-human character specifically as a register of disgust with the system. If all “principled non-voters” would instead vote with principle for at least some absurdity (if not for the best human candidate) at least they can have an outlet to quantify disdain for the current system and to get their message of “principle” (whatever it may be) out beyond being lumped in with the apolitical and the apathetic.

  15. Heard all these same arguments for voting for the last 50 years. I get the same elected assholes as everyone that voted and I get to sleep in on election day. I’m glad I’m old. Don’t sell your guns.

  16. “Is it really all that bad if a broad swath of voters, relatively happy with the status quo, sit it out from a decided lack of pique?”

    Yes.

  17. Now even Reason is in on the Kevin Bacon game. That really was Kevin Bacon? Right?

  18. Just trying to get a finger on this; looks more like a game of twister, now, though. Anyone up for a game? Czech models in swimsuits spin first.

    Sorry also just trying (not so hard)to establish Libertarians as disgusting sexists.

  19. “Is it really all that bad if a broad swath of voters, relatively happy with the status quo, sit it out from a decided lack of pique?”

    I really don’t care about the voters happy with the status quo, since they’re statists by definition. What bothers me are the libertarian minded who sit on their ass. Yes, the Libertarian candidates are often less than stellar, and yes, any sort of electoral victory is quite unlikely in the short and mid term. But it’s one hell of a lot more likely than a peaceful devolution to an anarchist society or a successful revolution. If you’re a libertarian, and don’t vote, by what magic do you hope to increase freedom?

  20. Flying Spaghetti Monster for President!

  21. But it’s one hell of a lot more likely than a peaceful devolution to an anarchist society or a successful revolution.

    Except, there are at least a few libertarians around who are not interested in any flavor of anarchism (and we’re used to being called “not real libertarians”). And I have no faith that revolution (at this stage of the game) would result in anything good.

    There really is no one on the ballot worth voting for. My heart has no home this year, and there is no lesser evil either.

    I could write in my vote for Mickey Mouse but let’s get real, children. It isn’t going to do anything but burn up my time and gas.

    The idea of a 10,000 member HR is really interesting. And to it I would add the suggestion that we staff it by a process something like jury duty. It’s not something you can even run for, you get it more like winning the lottery. Of course you can decline and they’ll pick the next name in the hat.

    For a two year stint, I really doubt we’d get worse results with this approach than what we’ve got now.

    What I like most though is the idea that the HR has so many members, that it becomes in fact truly representative of We The People, and the PACs and lobbyists can’t afford to try and influence it.

    It would be really interesting to see what came out of this.

    Or maybe, it would be really horrible to see what came out of this.

  22. Ebeneezer Scrooge,
    So we are of similarly foul dispositions today. Drink with me as I drown my sorrows in whiskey and rum.

  23. Okay, I’m not really “drowning my sorrows”. I just really like to drink, and things like this give me a good excuse.

  24. I’m just now seeing that this seems to be an expression of anti-voting sentiment. I would be remiss if I did not at least leave my calling card.

    Peaceful anarchist Ruthless

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