News Item: President Obama says people who don’t vote should be fined.

Isn’t it enough that advanced welfare/warfare governments tax and spend recklessly? Isn’t it enough that more and more they snoop into our lives, engage in endless social engineering and wage superfluous, ill-moral, wars?

Apparently, for many of our pols, it is not.

Governments want more and more out of the average person, who is usually too busy making a living to play the endless game called politics. Still, many of our pols want us to participate more in what is often a rigged system. It is one that favors the two ruling parties and shuts out new parties. However, today millions of Americans want no part of it. That has been spooking many of our Tweeds and George Washington Plunkitts for some time.

What happens if they hold an election and no one shows up?

Desperate Democrats and Republicans

So now some of our career pols, worried about declining voter participation rates that raise questions about the legitimacy of the system, want to force us to participate in what are often farces disguised as elections.

President Obama, in a recent speech in Cleveland, said what many career politicians think but rarely say: Americans, with relatively low voting numbers compared to other advanced welfare democracies, should be forced to vote. Indeed, he argues that they should be penalized if they don’t.

“It would be very transformative if everybody voted,” said our lame duck president. “If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map of this country.”

Maybe such a law—based on the same idea that if you don’t buy health insurance, you get fined—might help our president. Maybe it might boost his floundering political party and administration. The president, whose popularity has declined considerably, is going through the last two years of his second term with a Congress entirely in hostile hands. Republicans control both chambers and even some in his own party quietly say bad things about him.

While it might or might not help the president and his demoralized Democrats to require voting at the point of a fine, there is a bigger issue: The philosophy of mandatory voting is akin to the philosophy of most welfare/warfare state governments. It is essence of how much of your hired help sees you, the average citizen.

What “They” Really Think

“You, citizen, don’t know what is good for you,” most our pols believe but rarely say in public.

“So we, the Platonic Guardians of Washington—-or London, or Paris, etc—-will tell you what to do. We’ll force you to vote. We’ll force you to use a government health care plan that is a disaster, much worse than what you were getting in the private sector. We’ll force you to contribute (sic) to a government retirement system called Social Security. Then we’ll borrow (sic) from its trust fund and spend the money on any political purpose we see fit. We’ll force you to pay for wars that you actually oppose (The Vietnam War, the Iraqi War of 2003, etc). Your sons and daughters, some of whom will have problems finding jobs, will serve in these wars. We know you don’t like it, Citizen, but remember this: We, the political elites—-the men and women of both parties who make a career of running for office—are smarter than you. You’re too dumb to run your lives so we’ll take over more of them. And be sure to vote for us next November. Hey, you’re welcome!”

The Right to Vote

Now, before someone utters the standard voting is essential line—-that “people died for your right to vote”—let us consider this: The two ruling parties of the United States, which agree on more than they would admit, game the system. They have ensured that it is well nigh impossible for new parties to compete. They have knocked various third parties off the ballot.

And, if a new party gets on the ballot after incredible efforts, they have refused to include minor parties in debates. They often set up debate commissions that dismiss third parties (By the way, who sits on their commissions? Correct. Only Democrats and Republicans!). The ruling parties constantly say new parties have no chance to win so why should they be included in debates? This, of course, ignores history. The Republican Party began in the 1850s as “a third party,” one that protested against slavery.

Worse than that, the ruling parties have set up phony elections, many of which were never in doubt.

Paging Winnie

About three years ago I voted in the outrageous district attorney’s race here in Queens County. It is a county of some two million that, if it wasn’t unfortunately part of New York City, would be about the fourth biggest city in the United States. Our district attorney, Richard Brown, ran for re-election against nobody!

Brown, a media hog who apparently believes getting on television is the most important thing he can do, was on two lines and there was nobody else on any of the other lines. What was the point of the election? Why break off from doing something more useful—-imbibing or listening to my beloved Bruins on the net or re-reading the most delightfully anti-militarist novel “The Good Soldier: Svejk” —to head down to the school on Kew Gardens Road and cast a ballot? When I voted I was the only person at the polls. But there were dozens of election officials there all getting paid by the taxpayer. I wrote in Winnie the Pooh.

More New York Nonsense

Recently, in our governor’s race here in New York, the land of corruption run amuck, our incumbent, Andrew Cuomo, ran with almost every advantage imaginable: He had limitless amounts of money, while his opponents in both the primary and the general election had almost no money to run tube ads.

Most mass media decreed the game was over before it even started—Governor Cuomo would win easy re-election. Yet all those advantages weren’t enough for our governor as I detailed here.

Then, reluctantly, he only debated once in the general election. The governor was easily re-elected. I don’t wonder why so many Americans are cynical about our system of big government. It is primarily run by career pols, both Democrats and Republicans, who only live by two rules.

Rule 1: Get elected.
Rule 2: Immediately after election, starting planning for re-election. Or possibly use your current office as a stepping stone to another office.

Career pols—men and women of both major parties—are people whose whole lives are tied up in “the perpetual campaign,” as I wrote several years ago in a piece I did on Congressman Anthony Weiner.

A Plea for Reform

The president wants to “transform” our system. Here’s a reform that would attract more voters. Require that every election have a “None of the Above Option.” If enough voters opt for “None of the Above,” and if no candidate in a contest obtains 50 percent plus one, then all of the candidates are disqualified. Another election is held within a week until someone gets over 50 percent of the votes. This system would require that each party have a backup candidate ready for a potential second election round.

It is not within a kind of precedent. In France, in presidential elections, if no candidate receives 50 percent plus one, then the top two candidates square off in a second round. That’s a good idea. But I like my reform better.

Here would be a system that would possibly eliminate and humiliate many of our leading pols when they couldn’t get a majority. It might even lead some of them to give up politics and learn to live in the private sector like the rest of us.

Let more and more of career pols learn how the other half lives. Then I believe we’d have a better country, with less government, spending and interference in our lives. It’s not a perfect idea. But when we speak of government today, less is not only more—it’s much better.


Gregory Bresiger
Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent financial journalist from Queens, New York. His articles have appeared in publications such as Financial Planner Magazine and The New York Post.