On Wednesday afternoon, speaking at the City Club of Cleveland, President Barack Obama suggested mandatory voting in the United States as an alternative to campaign finance reform — also known as restricting the free political speech of Americans.
It’s not surprising that Obama would support such a policy: He recognizes that he and his party have done poorly during midterm elections when turnout, particularly among minority and young voters, drops off substantially from presidential elections.
He is also a bully at heart, unhesitatingly compelling Americans to bend to his will, whether in buying only those health insurance plans which he deems adequate, accepting federal regulation of the Internet, or paying more for electricity because he hates, hates, hates coal and oil.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest backed away slightly from the idea on Thursday, saying that “The president was not making a specific policy prescription for the United States.” But, as is part of the job requirement for an Obama administration spokesman, Earnest was making a distinction without a difference or, more precisely, lying.
While many factors determine how somebody will vote, there is a strong correlation between income and political leanings: The salary analysts at PayScale put out a simple chart following the 2012 election showing that those earning less than $75,000 per year favored Barack Obama while those above that level went for Romney.
Another simple chart shows a large positive correlation between income and likelihood of voting.
In other words, those Americans least likely to vote are the most likely to support Democrats. It’s no wonder that President Obama would love to coerce universal voting even though it’s the philosophical equivalent of complaining about lazy poor people.
But the argument against mandatory voting must not be based on race or income or age or gender. It must be about political ignorance – which correlates with each of those things in a most un-PC way.
According to a paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association in 2011, “generally speaking, poor, younger, minority, and female Americans have been found to possess lower levels of overall political knowledge.”
If that’s not enough to drive feminists crazy, the researchers note that while women “tend to be more informed than men about local politics and ‘gender relevant’ issues,” “women typically score lower than men on political knowledge questions about the role of different branches of government and current political leaders.” Knowledge of current political leaders seems fundamental to being an informed voter, wouldn’t you say?
And continuing with things which shall not be mentioned in polite company, other research concludes that “African Americans are less politically knowledgeable than whites, with three quarters of blacks scoring lower than three quarters of whites on their knowledge index.” (Hispanics scored in between African Americans and whites on the “effects of classroom civic learning.”)
The icing on the electoral cake: A 2012 Pew survey notes that “Republicans fare substantially better than Democrats on several questions in the survey, as is typically the case in surveys about political knowledge.”
Again, it’s no surprise that President Obama wants to force Americans to vote: the groups most likely to vote for Democrats are the least politically informed members of society and the most likely to stay home on Election Day — particularly during midterm elections, which have treated both Barack Obama and Bill Clinton so badly.
One point needs to be made plain: Political ignorance can be rational; recognizing someone as politically ignorant is not an insult unless the person was claiming to be well informed.
For example, if you’re a lower-income person working two jobs to make ends meet, is it really a good use of your time to research what Senator Smith or Congressman Jones thinks about Cash for Clunkers or Audit the Fed or sanctions on Iran, especially when you don’t care about those things — if you even know what they are? Do you think your vote matters anyway? And isn’t that hour much better spent earning a few more bucks to feed your kids?
The great economist Walter Williams summarizes: “While people might be motivated by non-economic factors, from a strictly economic point of view it simply doesn’t pay individual voters to learn about and take action against the myriad assaults emanating from the political area… [R]ational ignorance pays. Politicians know this and exploit it to the hilt.”
Poorer and less-informed voters are more likely to vote for pandering candidates of left-wing parties who promise them other people’s money. It was true in the election of Barack Obama and it is true in mandatorily-voting Australia where fines and possible jail time await those with the temerity to avoid casting ballots for candidates whom they don’t know, representing parties they don’t care about, pushing policies they don’t understand.
President Obama takes this personally: Uninformed voters put him in office, and their non-participation in the 2010 and 2014 elections caused Democrats to lose more seats in the House of Representatives during the Obama midterms than suffered by any president since Harry Truman.
That’s why a desperate Obama said, following his second straight midterm shellacking, “To everyone who voted, I want you to know that I hear you. To the two-thirds of voters who chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too.” Funny, I didn’t hear those two-thirds. What exactly did they say to him beyond “I’m just not that into you anymore”?
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a potential Republican presidential candidate, reacted to Obama’s suggestion by offering what should be an unnecessary reminder: Participating (or not participating) in politics “is the choice of living in a free society.” But like any good statist, Barack Obama knows that what’s yours is his — whether it’s your money or your most basic freedoms, including your freedom to refuse to participate in an election.
The less you want to vote, the more Obama thinks you’re a vote for Democrats. The less you know about politics and economics, the more they need you. And if you don’t know much and don’t want to vote, well, says Barack, you just need to get your priorities straight because you’re exactly the voter we want.