(April 29, 2011) The moral high horses are often cynical opportunists pushing left-leaning causes and candidates.
It’s a free country. Don’t vote if you don’t want to, no matter how many people try to badger or bully you into rearranging your day to suit their agenda. If they’d rather stand in line for an hour or two to cast a ballot that has a one-in-a-trillion chance of being the deciding vote, more power to them. If you’d rather enjoy a beer with your buddies or catch up on your chores, more power to you.
I generally vote in federal elections, despite the academic literature that pretty well proves that doing so is futile. I vote even when I know that my preferred candidate has zero chance of winning — dumb or not, that’s my choice. But I don’t vote in elections that don’t interest me — for local school board trustees, for example — and I don’t worry about being less of a citizen because I don’t devote time to getting learned up on local school issues, important though they may be. Why should I get on a moral high horse and scold those who don’t care to get learned up on federal issues?
The moral high horsers, in fact, are often cynical opportunists who are trying to manipulate people into the ballot booth. The chief manipulators are left-leaners and their favourite targets are youths, whom they believe are likelier to vote for their left-leaning causes and candidates. Although the manipulators pretend to be non-partisan, they often have an ideological agenda.
The most successful get-out-the-youth-vote campaign, in aid of Barack Obama’s run for president, was Don’t Vote, a YouTube video featuring a rapid-fire succession of hip celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen DeGeneres using reverse psychology — “Don’t vote,” they ordered, in a transparent ploy to get youths to do the opposite. The video, which provided no reasons to vote apart from shallow references to caring about the future, has now been adapted for Canada in an equally shallow video entitled Go Vote! The Canadian version is promoted by the Public Policy Forum, an organization that tries to co-ordinate government, big business, unions and non-profits in a top-down vision of a harmonious society.
“Why should youth vote in the upcoming federal election?” asks a series of Go Vote! actors. “I’m voting because I want to address bullying in schools and communities across the country,” answers one youth, as if school bullying is a ballot question this year, or as if it obviously should be, given that in Canada schools and communities more properly fall under provincial responsibility. Other answers, by other Go Vote! youths, do fall under federal jurisdiction, and also within Public Policy Forum’s bigger-government mindset. The video has one youth wanting government support for the arts. Another for sports. Another for youth entrepreneurs.
None of the Go Vote! actors said “I’m voting to stop the high taxes that cause youth unemployment to soar,” or “I’m voting to stop unfunded pensions and other government giveaways to the older generation that are stealing the future from us youths.” The Go Vote! video exhorts youth to vote without exhorting them to become informed, as if the right choice of candidate is too obvious to name. Little wonder that the current fads on campus are termed mob voting. Mob voting, and the mob rule it promotes, can only delegitimize the authority of democratically elected leaders. The higher the vote turnout, in other words, the less legitimate the government.
Go Vote! claims “Everyone needs to vote.” In fact, no one who cares about Canada should vote if their vote isn’t well informed. Voting is a small part of being a good citizen, and a relatively unimportant part, especially if the goal is to keep government leaders accountable. Joining a lobby organization or writing letters to the editor or to elected representatives can be far more effective in putting politicians on the spot, if that’s your sort of thing.
Whether or not you’re informed, don’t vote if you don’t want to. You don’t become unworthy if you don’t obey the election scolds, just as you don’t become worthy by casting a mindless vote at the behest of others.