An impending Democrat loss brings out all sorts of panicky complaints from the media that democracy urgently needs renovation. Lower the voting age! Register everyone to vote automatically when any government bureaucrat so much as looks at them! Abolish the midterm elections, because they’re just static that obscures the pure message voters send during presidential runs, at least when the Democrat wins! Force people to vote at gunpoint! (Yes, that’s a serious suggestion; CNN even illustrated it with a picture of a gun shooting a little “VOTE!” flag.)
What unites most of these suggestions are two basic ideas:
1. More people voting = better democracy
2. Fewer elections = better democracy
The romantic ideal of soft totalitarianism – everything in life under political control, but the people hold an electoral kill switch that can shut down insufficiently benevolent despotism – is thus expressed as a rare series of elections, once every four years, in which a single Party is given largely unrestricted power. The unitary executive has a rubber-stamp legislature helping him Get Things Done, rather than facing a powerful opposition party headed up by Senator Gridlock McFilibuster and Rep. Intransigence Lobbypuppet. A very large number of people would vote in these infrequent elections – pretty much everybody, if you go with the mandatory-voting model. This would slather an extra-thick veneer of democratic approval on the power of the total State. Hey, everybody voted, and this is what 51.45% of them said they wanted. Who are you to stand against the Will of the People, dissident?
One notices that this enthusiasm to expand the franchise invariably includes people who would be more susceptible to the emotional messages and dependency lollipops offered by Democrats and the Big Government enthusiasts in the GOP. What we need is more voters who aren’t really citizens per se, more kids accustomed to living at the expense of adults, more felons, and more people who can’t be bothered to vote if it’s more of a hassle than picking up the week’s new releases at the Redbox. That’ll fix everything!
At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, this attitude has things exactly backwards. What we need is fewer people voting more responsibly. Voting is for adults. That’s not so much a function of chronological age as state of mind, but I suppose we’ll never have a basic …read more