Evidently President Obama didn’t think his petulant refusal to congratulate Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the re-election victory Obama worked so hard to prevent was enough political comedy for the week, because he also decided to send us rolling in the aisles with this mandatory voting brainstorm: “In Australia, and some other countries, there’s mandatory voting. It would be transformative if everybody voted. That would counteract money more than anything. If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country.”
Flacks were quickly dispatched to the impact zone of this lead balloon, with spokesman Josh Earnest striving to turn the whole thing into a big joke, assuring us that the President was just having a little fun with “provocative” ideas, not floating a “specific policy proposal.
WARNING TO REPUBLICANS: You can’t get away with thinking out loud and spitballing “provocative” ideas for your own amusement. Everything “provocative” you say will be taken by the massed ranks of the Democrat media as a serious policy proposal you secretly lust to implement, the very instant you have the necessary power. Your spokespersons will not be able to make the story go away with a chuckle less than 24 hours after your trap stops flapping.
As for “mandatory voting,” one suspects Barack Obama knows perfectly well that would never fly in America, not even as a long-term idealistic aspiration. The suggestion provides an unsurprising view on his mania for forcing people to do the “right things.” Like much of the modern Left, Obama is romantically in love with the vision of an all-wise, all-powerful Ruling Class that imposes its vision upon the mean-spirited, greedy, racist, sexist Little People. If he can force you to buy health insurance from his partners in kinda-sorta-private industry, why not force you to vote as well? It would be “transformative,” and he loves using force to transform his unworthy country.
Obama’s mandatory-voting brain fart flatters three of the most cherished illusions in his ideology. First: the private sector still has too much damn money, which greedy fatcats can use to distort pure and beautiful politics. There are still too many moneychangers in the temple of the State for Obama’s liking. Leftists find it endlessly useful to whine about all the money in politics because they know their faithful followers won’t criticize their lavish campaign funding… although Hillary Clinton seems determined to put the indulgence of the Democrat flock to the test.
Also, people who don’t bother to vote now – in an electoral environment of early and absentee balloting that makes the process incredibly easy – were forced to cast ballots, no one can seriously argue that the result would be a revival of enlightened statesmanship. Why would the role of money in politics be diminished, if winning an election depended on reaching out to millions of people who don’t give a damn? In fact, if universal compulsory voting were combined with tight campaign finance laws, the result would be vastly increased influence for Big Media. You can see why the party that controls Big Media would like the sound of that.
Second, Obama loves to portray himself as the avatar of America’s general will, the strong hand of a wise but silent majority, which he alone can see and hear. Remember how he responded to the Democrats’ midterm election shellacking by announcing that he represents the people who don’t vote? He also believes he’s empowered to rule America as the tribune of people who aren’t citizens. His mandatory-voting fantasy plays into the same belief. He thinks he, and his party, would be even more powerful if their non-voting supporters were dragged to the polls.
The same president who just fantasized about mandatory voting is the head of a Party that officially portrays responsible voter identification methods as a racist conspiracy to disenfranchise its supporters. It also claims that enforcing immigration law is impossible, because illegals “vanish into the shadows” and there’s absolutely no way to keep tabs on them. The welfare programs championed by the Party of Government are riddled with billions of dollars in fraud. But they’re going to track down everyone of voting age and force them to participate in fair and honest elections? That doesn’t even make sense as a daydream.
Third, and most crucially, strongman rulers around the world have adopted the belief that democracy is a source of righteous power. Most of the strongmen take care to rig the elections in various ways, to ensure voting never turns against them, but even the most transparently corrupt, authoritarian dictators take pains to portray themselves as the perpetual winners of popular elections. Liberal media is generally willing to take these absurdly false elections seriously, provided the dictator spouts socialist rhetoric – look at how they dutifully reported those 99 percent election wins for the Castros in Cuba, decade after decade.
Even when the vote isn’t rigged, it’s still incredibly dangerous to accept the notion of voting – of politics – as a sufficient limit on power. That’s the “national conversation” we’re having in the United States as the Age of Obama winds down, to the point where even the comical corruption of Hillary Clinton’s secret e-mail server is dismissed as something that shouldn’t inconvenience Her Majesty unless the voters get really angry about it. We’ve grown far too comfortable with sacrificing the legal and constitutional restraints on power, in exchange for the fantasy that our politicians will behave themselves to avoid punishment at the ballot box.
The Cult of Democracy believes that winning a popular vote authorizes virtually any exercise of power. In foreign policy, it’s the reason they keep insisting democracy is a magic elixir that can fix nightmare states, despite constant bloody evidence to the contrary. Remember how the “Arab Spring” was going to fix the Middle East by blanketing it with ballots? How’s that working out for everyone?
Domestically, the Cult of Democracy promotes the mythology of the American people expressing their collective will on a variety of important issues through popular elections, giving the winners a limitless mandate to do what The People want, pronto. Resistance is derided as “gridlock” or “obstruction.”
Only the government can act with virtue and get things done. Arbitrary barriers against the State’s benevolent will – from congressional procedures or silly old constitutional limits written by primitives with wooden teeth and powdered wigs – must be cast aside. We can give the Ruling Class unlimited power without ever worrying that they’ll become tyrants, because we can vote them out of office. Democracy checkmates tyranny! More democracy equals less tyranny! Everybody forced to vote means we could give the government absolute power over everything without any tyranny at all, because literally everyone of voting age would sign off on everything our elected rulers do.
This is childish nonsense, and profoundly dangerous. Voting does not authorize limitless power, and electoral defeat isn’t a sufficient check against abusive government. The Founders wrote eloquently against the “tyranny of the majority,” a menace built into the Cult of Democracy’s DNA. How often do we hear arguments that 30, 40, or even 49 percent of the populace must submit to whatever 51 percent have chosen to support? (And it’s usually not even 51 percent support. A skilled politician can portray him or herself as the “voice of the majority” with a far lower percentage of actual support.)
Also, we should be mindful of the way a powerful State can influence the people to vote however it wishes (or replace them with a different imported electorate, if the native-born refuse to surrender their independence.) And remember, a vast amount of power has been squirreled away in a massive, unaccountable bureaucracy which voters have no direct influence upon at all, no matter how many people fill out ballots in the next election.
Democracy has become a cloak for the naked ambitions of the Ruling Class. A total State with 100 percent voting is far less free than a more modest government where only a minority of the public bothers to exercise its franchise… but the total State with mandatory voting would pretend it’s more free, even though it has taken away the freedom to refuse participation in elections. Voting is one important component of freedom, but it’s not a substitute for freedom.