(CNN)The president whose major policy achievement is mandatory health insurance thinks maybe voting should be mandatory, too.
Asked how to offset the influence of big money in politics, President Barack Obama suggested it’s time to make voting a requirement.
“It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything,” he said, adding it was the first time he had shared the idea publicly.
The clout of millionaires and billionaires in campaign funding has been enormous, and many claim the uber wealthy have undue leverage in politics.
Speaking of “big money in politics”, I live in Los Angeles- Santa Monica to be more precise- and I am sick of the number of times that President Obama (and VP Biden) have tied up traffic out here with their Democratic Party fund raising trips. They seem to stay and leave in the area where I must travel, at the time that I normally must travel. Consistently. Even though he wasn’t golfing on taxpayer’s dime this time around, this last frivolous trip (last week), the President had to make an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to talk about mean tweets and Ferguson (*groan*) and fundraise at a DNC $33,400 dinner per couple event at Chris Silbermann’s home in Santa Monica.
But I digress…
“The people who tend not to vote are young, they’re lower income, they’re skewed more heavily towards immigrant groups and minority groups,” Obama said. “There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls.”
So young people- like high school and college age baristas?- should be made to influence the direction of this country? And immigrant and minority groups? What is an “immigrant group”?
At least 26 countries have compulsory voting, according to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Failure to vote is punishable by a fine in countries such as Australia and Belgium; if you fail to pay your fine in Belgium, you could go to prison.
Aside from campaign finance issues, the United States also grapples with one of the lowest voter turnout rates among developed countries.
Less than 37% of eligible voters actually voted in the 2014 midterm elections, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. That means about 144 million Americans — more than the population of Russia — skipped out.
I agree that it is a national embarrassment at how apathetic we are as a nation when it comes to voting; that so many of our citizenry take the privilege for granted. However, if a citizen has not familiarized himself with the issues or a politician’s stance on the issues, do we really want to force that person to vote? Should he just toss a coin? Play eenie-meannie on the ballot?
So since the right to bear arms is also in our Constitution, does President Obama also want to make it mandatory that every citizen be a gun owner, or pay a fine? Or, since “Australia and some other countries” have mandatory voting, should we also base our gun-ownership on a foreign nation’s practices such as Switzerland? What else do we want to adopt since other nations do it? The reality is, Australia’s voting system is completely different from ours. So citing it is just bizarre, to me.
Mandatory voting would be forced speech. Not free speech. Being forced to cast a vote is just as wrong as being denied the right to vote.