The freedom to participate must include the freedom not to participate
There is a growing movement in Canada to make voting mandatory. It’s even one of the questions in the pathetic and biased “Canadian Democracy” survey being peddled by the federal government.
Some people (elites) want to push the idea of mandatory voting because they say it will increase engagement and participation in the system. But they’re missing one big point:
The freedom to participate must include the freedom not to participate.
Think about free speech. If you are free to share your opinion, you are also free not to share your opinion. You are free to move within your country, or to move out of your country. You are also free to stay exactly where you are.
Freedoms imply choice, and that choice includes choosing not to exercise that freedom, or to exercise it in a way that is unique to you.
Forcing people to vote – even if the penalty is “just” a government-imposed fine, goes against the idea of freedom itself.
If you don’t like any of the choices, why should you be forced to choose one of them?
Imagine if you went to a restaurant, looked at the menu, decided you didn’t like anything, and were then told you had to eat something there.
That would seem crazy.
But that’s exactly the same concept advocates of mandatory voting want to force upon us.
Our politicians and governments have been failing big time in many ways. Economic struggle, terrorism, and a sense of insecurity are all rising. As a result, more and more people think the whole system is corrupt and broken. They don’t find anything on the menu appetizing.
If you think the whole system is broken, and if you feel that none of the choices on the ballot represent your views, or can make any improvements, shouldn’t you be able to reject what’s on the menu?
Why should the government have the power to compel your physical presence at the voting booth? If you want to exercise your democratic rights by staying out of the process, you should be totally free to do so.
Mandatory voting is a grab for unearned legitimacy
As our institutions and leaders lose legitimacy, mandatory voting is a way for them to sneakily grab it back.
They know that an election where 90% of people vote looks a lot better than one where 50% of people vote.
So, instead of actually solving problems and earning back the legitimacy they’ve lost, they want to force people to vote in order to artificially make the system look strong.
That’s not far off from what many dictators do, masking the weakness of their governments with propaganda displays and puffed up numbers.
Canadians deserve the freedom to participate in the process, or to withhold our participation when and where we see fit.
Forcing people to vote is the last thing we should do.
Photo – Twitter