Obama Broaches Mandatory Voting

Obama brought up the idea of mandatory voting: “In Australia, and some other countries, there’s mandatory voting. It would be transformative if everybody voted. That would counteract money more than anything.”

Didn’t Lincoln free the slaves? Oh, I’m sorry. The U.S. government took over the institution in other forms. So no wonder that a president should ponder extending this venerable institution to mandatory voting. The idea is that you are in a “democracy”. You have a responsibility, according to this theory. But how does this translate into being forced to vote? For this theory to hold water, it must be the case that you are in this “democracy” whether you like it or not, and whether you are a willing participant or not. Isn’t this a form of political slavery?

Mandatory voting would erase the irritating negative signals when 63% (or other large percentages) of the people do not vote in elections. It would by coercion provide the illusion of conferring legitimacy on a government that many people detest and have given up hope on. How convenient for the government.

But since “those avoiding the polls in 2014 tended to be younger, poorer, less educated and more racially diverse,” making people vote would favor Democrats over Republicans. Obama knows this. He says that mandatory voting would “completely change the political map in this country.” His selling point that it would counteract money is false. Maybe some Republican money, but not money in general.

Being made to vote creates negative feelings in those forced to the polls. According to one study, the “sense of duty” goes down:

“when people are reminded about punishments, they show lower levels of duty and a deteriorated opinion that voting is important to preserve democracy. Moreover, the effect is monotonic: the harder the punishment, the lower the intrinsic motivation to vote and the lower citizens’ opinion about the importance to vote for preserving democracy.”

Maybe making Americans vote will create a backlash favorable to freedom. Or maybe the American respect for law and order will lead them to obey and even come to love a new manifestation of their own slavery. Law and order has negatives that accompany the positives.


10:57 am on March 19, 2015