The White House appears to be walking back President Barack Obama’s call for mandatory voting.
“The president was not making a specific policy prescription for the United States,” press secretary Josh Earnest was quoted as saying.
Well, he did stop short of a “specific policy prescription.” But somehow when he transitioned from “I don’t think I’ve ever said this publicly, but I’m going to go ahead and say it now” to “In Australia and some other countries, there’s mandatory voting,” it didn’t sound like he was just sharing a tidbit he learned from pub trivia.
But then, the president’s argument doesn’t seem to be particularly well thought out. He invokes mandatory voting, but then claims “some folks” are trying “to keep [non-voters] away from the polls.”
So if some unnamed folks are keeping non-voters away from the polls, then why don’t we go after those folks rather than coerce people who don’t want to vote?
In President Obama’s telling, mandatory voting would counteract money in politics. Apparently, the Koch brothers send around limousines to transport wrinkly white old Republicans to the polls.
An aside: when liberals say they dislike money in politics, they mean non-left-wing money. This deep distaste for filthy lucre polluting the body politic doesn’t extend to George Soros, Tom Steyer or Jim Simons.
For all the liberal caterwauling about Citizens United, a Sunlight Foundation study last year found that the top super PAC donors in 2014 were liberals.
A Politico analysis published in January similarly concluded that the top 100 wealthy donors gave $174 million to Democrats in 2014 compared to $140 million to Republicans.
It’s just like tirades against religion in politics really refer to conservative religion. “The Rev” Al Sharpton can’t be blocked by the wall of separation between church and state. When Pope Francis says seemingly liberal things, he is our moral leader and American bishops must follow his progressive lead. He’s a reactionary when he sounds conservative.
But I digress.
Part of this is simply the progressive mindset that everything good must be mandatory. From seat belt use to health insurance, if it’s a good idea for you to have it, the government should force you to have it.
It simply never occurs to Obama that if someone doesn’t want to participate in the quadrennial game of pin the tail on a Bush or Clinton, that is their choice. We don’t have to live in the White House to ignore Congress.
As Rush — the band, not Limbaugh — says, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
Just as everything good can be mandated, everything bad can simply be legislated or regulated away. The liberal approach to gun control, for example, resembles nothing more than a frantic grandmother trying to hide dangerous objects and baby-proof her house before the little ones come over.
Grandmothers know best will be the theme of the 2016 campaign.
Yet, Obama probably wouldn’t want voting to be mandatory if it would merely increase the number of bitter clingers performing their civic duty. Instead, he thinks it will increase Democratic turnout. As the president put it, they “are young, they’re lower income, they’re skewed more heavily towards immigrant groups and minority groups.”
It reminds me of a song that was popular when the president was in college. “We are young/Heartache to heartache, we stand/No promises, no demands.” Except the government may demand you vote.
Come to think of it, if Obama would agree that “Love Is A Battlefield,” he could probably get John Bolton and some of the Republicans who signed Tom Cotton’s Iran letter to co-sponsor the mandatory voting scheme.
Some non-voters should presumably be encouraged to vote, but others might not know anything about the issues. If you have seen the late-night shows do man on the street polls in which people confess they think Martin Luther King is still alive or don’t know the difference between Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act.
Polls regularly find that majorities can’t name a single Supreme Court justice and don’t know which party controls Congress. They have the right to vote, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great loss to the republic if they choose to stay home.
These people aren’t necessarily stupid. Some of it may well be rational ignorance. They know best how to live their own lives. Perhaps it’s best to give them maximum freedom to do so, rather than empowering them to tell everyone else what to do via the ballot box.
The liberal tendency to stop just short of federally regulated bedtime is why many laughed at Hillary Clinton’s comments about sending adults to camp to reduce the “fun deficit” (yet another deficit we can only shrink by raising taxes).
No, Hillary hasn’t been watching those old Ernest movies. We are a village when it comes to telling each other what to do and children who belong in summer camp when it comes to taking care of ourselves.
W. James Antle III is managing editor of The Daily Caller and author of the book Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? Follow him on Twitter.