One of the most repeated and yet also most dangerous phrases heard during elections is: “I don’t care who you vote for. Just vote.”
This is not just poor advice; it is dangerous.
Would you recommend that someone serve on the board of directors of a company if he or she knows nothing about the company or the industry? Not unless that person could bring a specific skill set or knowledge to the table.
Or worse than that, would you want to stack a board of directors with a majority who wasn’t interested in the company, didn’t pay attention to it, and had little interest in researching it? Hopefully not.
Would you want the manager of your company to not know anything about the company and industry you’re working in?
We should certainly not encourage someone who knows little about our country and doesn’t bother to research it to elect our commander in chief or to elect many other important elected officials.
The arguments in favor of voting by mail or not requiring a voter ID are focused on only one thing: getting as many people to vote as possible.
But that should not be our goal. We should encourage as many people as possible who are educated and willing to learn about the country to vote. We should certainly not encourage anyone to vote who does little more than skim the headlines. If anything, we should tell them to stay away from voting.
Some have said they like voting by mail because it’s more convenient. If voting is overly convenient, then it would be easy to misinform those with a superficial knowledge thereby sway the election. An overly uninformed electorate would be easy for a manipulative narcissist or organization to sway. As Jeffrey Rosen writes in The Atlantic: Founding Fathers and Federalist authors James Madison and Alexander Hamilton believed after studying ancient Greece “that Athenian citizens had been swayed by crude and ambitious politicians who had played on their emotions.” They feared that the same could happen in America.
And they were right: the same can happen today in America.
If someone is not willing to drive, walk, or commute to a voting booth, then that person should not have the convenience of voting by mail. (Exceptions do apply of course, such as for missionaries, military personnel, or those physically unable to go in.) If someone is doing something as important as voting for an elected official who can change the course of the country, he or she should be willing to inconvenience themselves for 10-15 minutes.
We do not want to put the future of our country in a populace that is uninformed.
This can open the gates to a an emotionally swayed and uneducated electorate, and in the end: mob rule.
Pure, unadulterated democracy is not desirable. We do not live in a democracy but in a constitutional republic. As the saying goes, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.”
Our Founding Fathers had the foresight to be as concerned about the tyranny of the the masses as much as the tyranny of a monarchy.
“Real liberty is not found in the extremes of democracy,” Alexander Hamilton wrote.
In the Federalist No. 55, Hamilton or James Madison wrote: “In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever characters composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason. Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates; every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote that the “majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society.”
The beauty of the setup of the United States of America is not primarily in giving excessive freedom to the population — although that freedom is important. The beauty in the way the U.S. is established is by constraining the government. By constraining one group, you offer more liberty to others.
Hence one of the most important lines in the Constitution states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Our system of government is built on placing restraints — or checks and balances — on governmental entities.
If we want to place constraints on presidents and Congress, then we should also place constraints on an uneducated and uninterested populace. And by constraints, we simply mean that we can expect them to get up and drive to the closest polling location. By constraints, we simply mean citizens need to have some form of ID, just like they need to do if they are expected to have a job or have proof of eligibility to reside in the U.S.
Gary Galles writes that “Americans know too little about our Constitution to maintain the freedoms it was designed to protect. Instead, our ignorance leads us to sacrificing rights out of undue deference to majority rule.”
Let’s not allow ignorance to make way for a majority mob rule. That could be even worse than a despotic monarchy or socialism.