Happy Election Day!
Appropriately enough, they are conveying that message at yourexcusesucks.com. But given that they bothered to buy the URL and throw up this site, you'd think they could have tried a little bit harder to muster some decent arguments.
To voters concerned (probably quite reasonably) that they aren't well informed enough to vote, the site offers this reassurance:
Don't worry silly, you can still vote. We have the electoral college to protect us from dummies like you.
Since when has democracy ever been about knowing what you're doing?
Do you understand how airplanes fly? No, but you don't mind participating in that process, do you?
I can't even…
I'll let you, the readers, fill in your own refutations of that logic. You can do it! Then visit the site for seven more inarticulate, inchoate pro-voting arguments!
Of course, there are far more subtle and intelligent people out there arguing against the legions (well OK, small milling clusters) of non-voters like me. Take tech policy guy Timothy B. Lee. Today at Forbes, he sets out to take a dent out of non-voting. Unfortunately, this smart guy has chosen to take on one of the least compelling slices of an otherwise decent blog post about the ethics of non-voting.
Lee quotes Eli Dourado arguing that the correct response to a corrupt system is to say: "Take your democracy and shove it." (Dourado is legitimately grumpy about the drug war, but this is not his finest rhetorical moment.)
Lee argues—quite persuasilvely—for the glories of living in a representative democracy.
By world and historical standards…we residents of the United States have been blessed with a phenomenally humane and competent system of governance.
The remarkable thing about our system of government isn't how much injustice it produces, but how little injustice it causes relative to the political system of almost any other society in the history of the world.
A majority of Americans vote even though it would be in their personal self-interest to skip it.
As much as I love all the flag waving here (no sarcasm, I really do love it!) it's a red herring. Lee's real concern is that voting is a classic collective action problem, which we are currently overcoming with strong pro-voting social norms.
But then he takes a bite out of his own argument:
"Principled" non-voters have the luxury of not participating in the political process because millions of others are doing the hard work of making democracy work, thereby staving off the much larger injustices that tend to occur in non-democratic political systems. We're a wealthy and peaceful society, so we can tolerate a large number of such freeloaders.
In fact, some of us "principled" non-voters are also the people doing the "hard work of making democracy work." You know, like political journalism. Or writing Facebook posts about the crappiness of the choices available on our ballots. Calling us freeloaders, to borrow a phrase from Lee, "ignores what the actual universe of possibilities is" for helping to sustain our super awesome system.
Lee is right that we are lucky to live in a place where elections are happening today. But he's wrong that the individual decision to check a box in secret behind a curtain is a particularly significant one.