Sunday, May 16, 2010

Should voting be compulsory

Share |
Australia is just one of 32 countries which oblige its citizens to vote, and among 19 who compel their citizens to vote through coercion. I guess its not compulsion like the 'death march' to Auschwitz, but given the absence of principle, maybe we are not too far removed. What made Nazism possible were two factors:
1. Arbitrary rule displacing principles of law - we have seen an increasing shift from common law principles to arbitrary statutory law.
2. Collectivist ethic - the sacrifice of the minorities interests for the sake of the majority. We have a Senate which is purportedly to protect minorities, however it hardly does a satisfactory job when its party-affiliated members cross over into government. Huge conflict of interest there, but no one speaks about it.

So what are the arguments for compulsory voting. According to the Australian Electoral Commission, the arguments are:
1. Voting is a civic duty comparable to other duties citizens perform eg taxation, compulsory education, jury duty. I actually repudiate all those obligations because I think nothing good can come from having to forced upon you. If an education is good despite being compulsory, its only a matter of time before it will not be a particularly appealing education.
2. Teaches the benefits of political participation. Nonsense. Force does not convey any education. In fact learning stops when force is applied and fear takes over. Are people fearful of voting? No, because they are unthinking, compliant zoombies who do not think beyond their immediate materialistic needs or their careers or investments, where they strive to amass materialistic fortunes. They have long repressed the fact that they wear an intellectual straightjacket. They have compartmentalised their minds to focus on the 'material'.
3. Parliament reflects more accurately the "will of the electorate". No form of representative democracy will represent the 'will of the electorate'. It does not even represent the 'will of the majority', since there is an endless array of choices on which any particular person can agree or disagree with a party, and 98% of them are not even raised at election time. Even those raised are over-simplified, and liable to change anyway. If you want to continue this fantasiful argument consider that the majority in most institutions is always wrong because they are usually not critical thinkers. Human advances are made not by majorities but by lone individuals like myself. Very small minorities who don't take kindly to being forced to do anything.
4. Governments must consider the total electorate in policy formulation and management. And how is it to do that without any moral guidance? I must confess that if you approach the Australian and most Western Constitutions, the way the contemporary parties operate is actually unconstitutional. I would not expect anyone though to care if they are sold on the current 'pretense'. People are not very good with details. I of course support a system where reason is the standard of value. Clearly representative democracy is not achieving that, but it ought to be a requirement of the judiciary to ensure it is....its just they are not very good at their job. i.e. They have given parliament more consideration than Common Law...all to our detriment. Common law is actually pretty reasonable compared to the 'will of the electorate', as we have already established, and as it conveyed by the complication of the law, and the endless loopholing to circumvent it, whether by corporations, individuals or government itself. Of course government is not very good at regulating itself. So as you can see - the electorate drew the short straw - it always does under this system - whether by design or intent. I suspect an accident at the point of its hard to know.
5. Candidates can concentrate their campaigning energies on issues rather than encouraging voters to attend the poll. This logic is dubious. Why not simply have a mail-out of policies and spare us the 'one-liner' campaigning slogans, then have written and live parliamentary debates to create a competitive scenario.
6. The voter isn’t actually compelled to vote for anyone because voting is by secret ballot. True, they can pretend to vote for a candidate. It makes little difference whether they vote for a person or pretend to vote. They ought not be required to support the government's pretense of legitimacy.

Now let's look at what the Australian Electoral Commission posits as reasons cited for not voting. The government has a huge conflict of interest on this issue, so we are going to extend their meagre list:
1. It is undemocratic to force people to vote - an infringement of liberty. Indeed it is. The greater problem here is that they consider it the arbitrary right of government to proscribe what your rights are, so they have you caught by your genitalia. I would argue that whilst it is a social contract which might enforce and codify rights, the moral basis for rights is human nature, or 'natural law'.
2. The ill informed and those with little interest in politics are forced to the polls. Well I would argue that the 'informed' who vote are just as ignorant as the minorities who do. Its really not a question of education. No one ought to possess the power to initiate the use of force upon other people, unless they cede that right.
3. It may increase the number of "donkey votes". Well perhaps the greatest donkey vote is the requirement to pretend that you had a choice in the first place. If you asked people if they respect or support a certain candidates values, you will find marginal support. i.e. It was a 'relativist' vote of support, not an absolute vote. So who is the donkey now? The guy who does not preserve the pretense of a choice, or the zoombie who turns up on polling day thinking he is going to make a difference. Joke!
4. It may increase the number of informal votes. If this is a factor, I don't see it. I think the AEC threw this 'incidental item' in just to make the list look complete.
5. It increases the number of safe, single-member electorates - political parties then concentrate on the more marginal electorates. Nope, another non-issue.
6. Resources must be allocated to determine whether those who failed to vote have "valid and sufficient" reasons. Yeh, we don't want to waste resources dealing with people who don't agree with us. Just ignore them and they will join us; after all we control the military and police. "What can they do? Win the moral argument?" "So old fashion". "No one respects ideas anymore".
The most important reasons are my own additions:
7. Respect for truth. If people have the opportunity to convey a lack of respect for the process by which their representatives are elected, they have the opportunity to repudiate the system. Otherwise the system has no accountability measure. No way of saying this system suxs. The only people who would want that lack of accountability is MPs who profit from the current system.
8. Respect for truth. Representative democracy selects the most popular leader. But just as we know parenting is not a popularity contest, we also know that political leadership ought not to be based on popularity. Nor should the incumbents be able to retain their power through coercion. They know they don't have legitimate control, so they use the threat of force to preserve the pretense of legitimacy. That is why the Australian government (i.e. The AEC) does not publish statistics about the number of unregistered voters.

In conclusion, there are 5 compelling reasons for not supporting compulsory voting and no legitimate reasons for preserving what is simply a crap-bag system. The reason it continues is because most people are psychologically repressed or feel compelled to accept the system. Over-arching these arguments though is the more fundamental conclusion - REPRESENTATIVE DEMCRACY IS A SHAM....fight for consensus based democracy where reason is the standard of value.
Andrew Sheldon

ConvinceMe.Net - Anyone up for a debate?