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A Duty To Not Vote

John Stossel says that there are a lot of people who shouldn't be voting:

Economist Bryan Caplan, author of "The Myth of the Rational Voter", points out, "the public's knowledge of politics is shockingly low."

He scoffs at the idea that "it's everyone's civic duty to vote."

"This is very much like saying, it's our civic duty to give surgery advice," Caplan said. "We like to think that political issues are much less complicated than brain surgery, but many of them are pretty hard. If someone doesn't know what he's talking about, it really is better if they say, look, I'm going to leave this in wiser hands."

Isn't it elitist to say only some people should vote?

"Is it elitist to say only some people should do brain surgery? If you don't know what you're doing, you are not doing the country a favor by voting."

Nope. You're only doing the demagogues a favor.


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denise wrote:

Ordinary people don't do brain surgery. But ordinary people do pick which doctor performs surgery on them.

Voting doesn't mean deciding the highly complex issues. It means choosing the people who do get to decide the highly complex issues. (Or in the case of the courts, voting means choosing the people who choose the people who make the decisions.)

That said, everyone voting should have basic information about the candidates and the issues. And I agree not everyone does.

Jardinero1 wrote:

I would note that the founding fathers agreed with John Stossel. That's why they created the electoral college, had the states appoint senators and left voting rights for the states to determine. As I view the trainwreck which is our government, I wonder if it wasn't a mistake to tamper with those elements of the Constitution.

Barbara Skolaut wrote:

I've quit wondering, Jardinero1. :-(

Frank Glover wrote:

there have certainly been a few specific races and propositions where I cast no vote, simply because I didn't know enough about them to make a meaningful choice (I mean, is it right to flip a coin?)...

...But if you haven't informed yourself enough about what's going on, that it's not worhwhile to enter a voting booth (or however they do it where you are) at all and make an informed choice about *somebody,* that's an extremely sad state of affairs.

Wince and Nod wrote:


I almost made the same point, but you got to it first. I have to pick my banker, my doctor and my plumber, for instance. Problem? I really don't know how to pick a good banker, doctor or plumber, either. I think I could have picked a good C programmer at one time.

However, as Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst possible system, except for all the others."

How can that be? Well, experts aren't good at picking politicians either. So the wisdom of crowds is the best method.


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on October 29, 2008 7:27 AM.

Prove Me Wrong, LA Times was the previous entry in this blog.

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