I’m in Asheville, NC right now, one of the most beautiful places in America, and thus one of my favorite. I come here every year to get away for a few days on a personal prayer/planning/reading retreat. I highly recommend Ridgecrest Conference Center, the Southern Baptists’ national campground/conference center (well, along with Glorieta, New Mexico).
At any rate, Asheville is both one of the most gorgeous places on the planet, and one of the most liberal. It’s an artsy place, with lots of free spirits, granola-eating, tree-hugger types; you get the picture. And because of this, Air America has a station here. And flipping through the dial as I went to grab some dinner, I found some guy named Tom Hartman, an Oregon liberal. There were two topics he touched on during my half-hour or so drive around Asheville. The first, which I caught only the tail-end of, involved the “living wage”, and he opined that no nation that was not committed to making sure every one of its breadwinners was making a “living wage” forfeited the right to be called “moral”. Well, OK, let’s begin by saying that we should, generally speaking, want every person to make a decent living. Sure, that’s a noble goal, and one that I’m 100% behind. But as with most liberal “solutions”, the pie-in-the-sky approach fails to take reality into account on several levels. It doesn’t understand human nature. It doesn’t account for the fact that a percentage of people are lazy, unmotivated, make horrible life choices, etc. It doesn’t account for the simple facts of running a business in a competitive society. It doesn’t account for the Law of Unintended Consequences. It is ignorant of basic economic theory. And so on.
But that’s not my main beef; my main beef was with the second of this “progressive” genius’ ideas: mandatory voting. And he ran a Paul Weyrich (ooooohhh, the epitome of evil! Almost as bad as…Dick Cheney…egads!) clip where Weyrich talked about the fact that it’s not such a noble goal for every person to vote in elections. “See”, he effectively said, “the evil conservatives want to suppress the vote”, and castigated the Weyrich-types to the third region of the nether world.
Two arguments against “mandatory voting” (he’d assess a fine against those not willing to show up on Election Day): one, not everybody should vote. At least not under current, and likely, future conditions, those conditions being the basic ignorance of the American populace regarding how government is supposed to function, constitutionally. If it were up to me, I’d make it a good bit tougher for people to vote: they’d have to pass a basic civics exam in order to belly up to the booth. Given the lousy job our nation’s schools are doing, by and large, there’d be a whole lot of people who wouldn’t pass, but that’d be a good thing: if you don’t know how the government is supposed to work, by what logic ought you to have a say in it?
Two, this liberal “solution” addresses the symptom, not the disease (as do most liberal “solutions”). People not voting isn’t the problem; people not caring is. This is why “Motor Voter”, another liberal charade, didn’t work: making it easier to do something people have no interest in doing in the first place doesn’t solve the problem. Very few people took advantage of the easier registration opportunities, and of those who did, few actually voted. Why? Because we have a basic problem of apathy in this country. To bolster his argument, Mr. Hartman cited the 2006 Vermont Senate primary, arguably the most-watched one in the country, where Joe Lieberman was beaten by Ned Irrelevant for the Dem nomination, only to see Joe trounce Ned, running as an independent. At any rate, Hartman said that only 43% of eligible Democrats voted in the primary. OK…what do we make of that? Only 43% gave a rip. And therein, Mr. Hartman, lies the problem: if people don’t care enough to make the minimal sacrifice of time and effort to get their lazy butts to the polls, why should we demand that they vote? I don’t want lazy, unconcerned, uninformed people having a say in the course of this nation until they become engaged, informed citizens.
Of course, this logic would doom Democrats to a permanent political underclass, given that their general modus operandi is to promise the moon to the “underprivileged”, which would accomplish the raising of taxes on workers, the tanking of the economy, and no discernible difference in the standard of living for those supposedly on the receiving end. Remember, LBJ declared a “war on poverty” over four decades ago, and the percentage of people living in poverty today, despite handing out barrels full of money and goodies to the underclass, is effectively the same now as it was then. I think I’ve run off on a tangent here…
At any rate, the bottom line is that it was fun to hear a nice (and he was that, I’ll give him credit) liberal expound on a couple of his well-meaning, but ultimately unworkable, ideas. It confirmed to me once again why I’m a conservative, grounded not in fantasy about the world in which we live, but as best I can be, reality.