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Since our economy is already mixed, would it be better or worse (or a wash) to have mandatory voting? This came up in the news today because of some comments from Obama suggesting the idea. What is the Objectivist answer?

asked Mar 19 '15 at 12:54

Marce11o's gravatar image


edited Mar 19 '15 at 13:17

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

"Mandatory voting" is a ridiculous idea and an obvious initiation of physical force against individuals. But it may be instructive to understand why it's ridiculous. It's ridiculous because the right to vote is not a duty to vote. The right to vote means the freedom to choose whether or not to vote, as well as for whom and for what to vote. Taking away that freedom means taking away that right. The essence of any valid individual right is the freedom that it protects, not the specific concrete action that one is free to perform or not.

Since it is so blatantly ridiculous, one should consider additionally: why would anyone advocate it? What could possibly be their worldview in so doing? In the context of thousands of years of mysticism, altruism, collectivism and statism in man's history, the most likely motive would be the view that "society" is supreme, that individuals "belong" to the "society" and are to be treated coercively by the "society," and that the government and its henchmen are the official "voice" of the "society." To disarm advocates of individual rights, it can be claimed that "voting" is an essential institution of the "society" and so must be enforced at the point of a gun. Longer term, the ridiculousness of such a view of voting can become crystal clear to all, and voting itself can be replaced by a "central committee" of those who are serious about "voting" and have suitably demonstrated their "seriousness" to the satisfaction of government goons. One of the first steps toward that end would have to be abolition of secrecy in voting, so that the goons could verify that individuals are actually casting serious ballots and not just nonsense votes for write-in candidates like "Mickey Mouse" or "Donald Duck" or "The Man in the Moon," or more directly protesting the "mandatory voting" law by scrawling in bold letters on the face of their ballots, "I hereby protest the mandatory voting law," and dropping their ballot into the ballot box without anyone being able to verify that they voted "seriously." Such protesters would need to be rooted out and executed or otherwise punished, perhaps being forbidden to participate in any further voting; by "natural selection," that would leave the most obedient individuals to serve the government.

answered Mar 20 '15 at 09:30

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

I think there's a more immediate concern: The Democrats believe that large blocks of people that typically vote Democrat (they won't stoop to thinking about individuals) simply don't vote. If you force everyone to vote, they believe, those numbers will ensure their victory in elections. I genuinely don't see them thinking of anything past the next few election cycles, and for those enforced voting may give them the edge. Particularly if they can ensure that illegal aliens get to vote as well as legal residents.

(Mar 20 '15 at 11:59) James James's gravatar image

Great answer. It reminds me of the scene from Atlas Shrugged, where they try to force Galt to be Economic Dictator: “I want you to think!” “How will your gun make me do that, Mr. Thompson?”

Also reminds me of the ridiculousness of mandatory jury duty. “If you order me to issue a directive, I will issue the directive you order me to issue.” I've gotta remember that line next time I'm called to jury duty for a victimless crime.

(Mar 20 '15 at 14:58) anthony anthony's gravatar image

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Asked: Mar 19 '15 at 12:54

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Last updated: Mar 20 '15 at 15:01