I don't usually read "Simon" over at Bahama Pundit because he or she does not identify him or herself, but a friend pointed me to a recent article excoriating people that choose not to vote.
Trotting out nationalistic fervor about those people that went to great lengths, even died, to ensure citizens can vote for the government of their choice, the article suggested people that choose not to vote are, arrogant, immature, and hypocrites.
"Everybody has an incontestable and absolute right to his or her vote, but that doesn't mean it's always right to vote. Abstaining can be a way of looking after the public good, too. Not all of us have the energy, inclination, or opportunity to learn what we need to know in order to vote well. And that's OK. There's more to public-spiritedness than showing up at the polls. You can run a small business or coach a kids' hockey team with the common good in mind. That's an expression of civic virtue, too."
"The virtue of opting out is especially clear once you grasp that more voting isn't necessarily better voting. Specialists in public opinion have exhaustively documented the average voter's shocking ignorance about the main issues of the day, the names of their local candidates for office, or the policies the candidates support."
"The flakiest voters -- the ones least motivated to show up at the polls year in and year out -- also tend to be most poorly informed. So when turnout drops, it tends to leave the pool of remaining voters with an improved average level of political knowledge and policy know-how. If well-informed voters have a better picture of the candidate or party most likely to promote the general welfare, then especially high turnout can actually tilt an election away from the better choice, leaving everyone a bit worse off. And that's not very civic-minded."
Wilkinson goes on to say,
"At this point in the argument, some readers will have become pretty upset. The "best informed" voters tend to be the best-educated, and therefore tend to be relatively wealthy. Doesn't this line of thinking suggest that relatively disadvantaged citizens would do us all a favour -- would do themselves a favour -- by staying home on election day? But then who will stand up for them? Who will promote their interests?"
"It's an excellent question, but it's based on one disproven and one unlikely assumption. The disproven assumption is that economic self-interest predicts voter behaviour. The consensus finding of political scientists is that voters -- lettered and unlettered, rich and poor -- tend to vote in good faith to promote what they see as the public good. That's good news. The unlikely assumption is that the voters who know least about politics and public policy have the means to make good decisions about which candidates and policies will best promote their interests. That doesn't compute."
"But everyone should have the means to make informed and effective democratic decisions. And that's really the issue, isn't it? It would be ideal were each and every citizen to have the income and education typical of well-informed, motivated voters. But to get there, we need policies that will actually work to promote broader prosperity and a fuller realization of basic human capacities. A better-informed pool of voters is more likely to deliver those policies.
"And so we are left with the Zen riddle of democracy: the closer a non-ideal democracy comes to maximum democratic participation, the less likely it is to adopt the means to ideal democratic participation. Lower voter turnout sets the stage for better democracy.
"So, on behalf of our cherished ideals of democratic equality, let me be the first to say: well done,…"
While I have always voted, albeit I've been tempted not to a couple times, I'm glad I have the right to choose to abstain when it comes to voting. And this right to choose, I believe, is the reason Ghandi, Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela or Aung Sun Suu Kyi, or Etienne Dupuch, Milo Butler, and many others set out on their noble journeys.
For Simon to suggest otherwise seems a bit arrogant, immature and hypocritical I submit.
What do you think?