For a second there I thought I misheard President Obama. Surely he was talking about summer safety, and what he said was, “Mandatory Boating,” or something like that. So I went and checked, and, unbelievably, the President said, “Maybe its time for mandatory voting.”
Here is the clip if you haven’t seen it–i apologize if commercials run first. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.
POTUS said it would be, “Transformative.” Yes, that it would. Let me remind, however, that all transformations are not positive. Why is change always viewed as a positive, when history tells us that most change is bad. Seriously.
POTUS also said that such a move would eliminate the effects of money in political campaigns. Actually, Mr. President, mandatory voting would increase the role of money in political campaigns. As it stands now politicans raise money to target specific groups that are more likely to vote. In order to reach the entire adult populace, all required to vote, even greater sums of money would be needed. Campaign finance reform has been talked about for a long time, and the Citizens United case decision has been a catastrophic failure. The only way to stop the grotesque expenditures for elections is to properly regulate spending. Regulating voting will not help.
My favorite part of POTUS’ little off-the cuff moment is when he listed the groups that don’t usually vote, so they would get a greater voice by being made to vote. The groups he listed were, and I’m not joking, the base of the Democratic Party. Not so thinly veiled guise there, Mr. President.
I am all for people being free to vote unhindered and unmolested, which is why I’m not really in favor of voter identification laws. The people who go vote tend to be people who pay their taxes, are involved in the community, care about the issues, and are informed. If suddenly everyone is required to vote, that dynamic goes out the window and people will not be informed beyond cliche’s and party affiliations and blocks. Voting is a privilege, but if people who don’t care about that privilege are force to vote, then it becomes a chore, a chore that likely will be done halfheartedly, quickly, and with no thought of the consequences. Is that what we really want?
When I first heard the president say this, after I realized he wasn’t talking about boating, I remembered that the Soviet Union used to make everyone vote. Their turnout was always 100%. Of course, there was only one candidate on the ballot.