I have mixed feelings about begging people to vote

As one who has written more than a few obligatory editorials urging the citizenry to do its civic duty and vote in each and every election that comes along, I have to confess to mixed feelings about such admonitions.

Oh, sure, I can understand why campaigners for candidates and causes push people to vote. And I see the political value in these campaigners offering opportunities for folks to register as voters and providing rides to the polls, etc.

But there’s also a condescending side to me that says people who have to be begged to vote probably shouldn’t participate in the process of self-government. The citizen who pays so little attention to what’s going on that he or she is not self-motivated to vote is not really qualified to do so (except in the legal sense).

It’s bad enough that we have so many so-called low-information voters, people who know little or nothing about the candidates or issues. Some of these folks reliably vote in every election — and I guess we just have to live with that. After all, even the uninformed have their rights.

But perhaps we would do better to leave well-enough alone in cases where certain people won’t vote unless you beg and plead with them.

The kind of voters I like, regardless of their political preferences, are those who are willing to stand in line and endure the obstacles to voting posed by irresponsible public officials — you know, the kind of thing we’ve seen lately in Florida and Ohio, if not also elsewhere.

Don’t get me wrong. Those obstacles are outrageous and their promulgators should be run out of office, if not also prosecuted.  But the voters who overcome the obstacles are good and heroic citizens. They don’t need to be begged to do their civic duty. If the example they set isn’t enough to inspire the layabouts to emulate them, then the hell with those latter types.


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