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Thread: Compulsory voting?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Compulsory voting?

    William Galston thinks the key to less polarization in the electorate is compulsory voting. It's the disaffected, the angry, who vote. The Howard Beales of the world. If everyone including those in the less intense middle voted, you would get fewer ideologues in office.

    The Brookings Institution scholar is among those who are dismayed at the turnout in this country. Those in the wide middle of the spectrum are the ones who abstain from voting, and Galston thinks that's not good. Get more people in the process by making it easier to vote through things like liberalized absentee voting.

    It's good for democracy, he says.

    But there's a catch to compulsory voting. You don't vote, you pay a fine.

    He is encouraged by the Australian system that that imposes a penalty anywhere from $20 to $70 on those who don't vote.

    Galston wrote about these ideas in a Brookings policy brief that was released today, and he talked about them with NPR's Robert Siegel, an interview that will air tonight on "All Things Considered."

    Galston believes that the "participation of less ideologically committed voters" would lead to depolarization. He concedes that while "passionate partisanship infuses the system with energy," the U.S. electorate is as polarized as it was back in the 1890s, which "erects roadblocks to problem-solving." And while many "committed partisans prefer gridlock to compromise," gridlock is "no formula for effective governance."

    Australia had voting participation at around 60 percent before it instituted mandatory voting, and now it's up to 95 percent.

    But, as Robert pointed out, an ABC News poll indicated that 72 percent of Americans are opposed to compulsory voting. Isn't this a non-starter?

    Galston conceded that it could be tough but added that perceptions change. Just look at the public's turnaround on "don't ask, don't tell," he said.

    Robert also asked about the non-voters. Are they of the same political persuasion of those who vote? Galston said they are more in the middle, less ideological than those on the right or the left.

  2. #2
    First they will tell us that we have to vote. Next they will tell us who to vote for

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dieseleverything View Post
    First they will tell us that we have to vote. Next they will tell us who to vote for
    No, they'll do better (they already have):

    They give us the "choice" of tweedlee (Democrat) or tweedledum (Republican).

    Either way, we get the corporatist, welfare-warfare state. It doesn't matter whether it's The Chimp as frontman, or Barry Soetero. The same elites control everything.

    It's deviously brilliant. A duopoly is much more subtle than a monopoly, openly one-party state (such as Soviet Russia). Because it gives the illusion of consent - and choice - while maintaining precisely the monopoly on power that the older regimes tried to preserve.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    No, they'll do better (they already have):

    They give us the "choice" of tweedlee (Democrat) or tweedledum (Republican).

    Either way, we get the corporatist, welfare-warfare state. It doesn't matter whether it's The Chimp as frontman, or Barry Soetero. The same elites control everything.

    It's deviously brilliant. A duopoly is much more subtle than a monopoly, openly one-party state (such as Soviet Russia). Because it gives the illusion of consent - and choice - while maintaining precisely the monopoly on power that the older regimes tried to preserve.
    You are correct Eric - it is just an illusion.

    How does this sound: each person should get one vote for every dollar they pay in federal income taxes. Pay no tax - get no vote. Pay a lot of taxes - you get more votes. Anyone who receives welfare forfeits their right to vote.

    What is a vote worth, if the person voting is not making a educated decision? Most incumbents are returned year after year because mindless idiots vote!

    Mandatory voting is nothing more than a 'feel good'.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dBrong View Post
    You are correct Eric - it is just an illusion.

    How does this sound: each person should get one vote for every dollar they pay in federal income taxes. Pay no tax - get no vote. Pay a lot of taxes - you get more votes. Anyone who receives welfare forfeits their right to vote.

    What is a vote worth, if the person voting is not making a educated decision? Most incumbents are returned year after year because mindless idiots vote!

    Mandatory voting is nothing more than a 'feel good'.
    The underlying problem is that people can vote to use the government to take money out of their neighbor's pockets (whether it's for a welfare entitlement or an imperial military doesn't really matter as the end result is the same).

    Take that away - and confine government to a few legitimate administrative/police functions - and the problem goes away.

    Still, it would help a lot if only people who paid income taxes had the franchise - given our current system.

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