On mandatory voting.

President Obama recently floated the idea of mandatory voting. For the man’s sake, I hope there’s some larger context here that justifies his otherwise tyrannical proposal. But since we’ve already established that you can be forced to buy stuff or else pay a tax– which may not actually be a tax, it depends which judges you’re trying to win over– he probably actually means forcing people to vote.

Why? Apparently because in the wake of the Citizens United ruling, money has too big an influence on the electoral process. Somehow, all that big bad evil money keeps people from voting, so Obama wants to make them vote in spite of all that big bad evil money.

Some thoughts:

1. If you have to be forced to vote, I don’t want you to vote.

2. If campaign ads and media bluster can convince you not to vote, I don’t want you to vote.

3. If you can be convinced to vote for a particular policy or party, why is paid campaign advertising a less valid method of doing so than, say, media bluster, or endorsements from fawning celebrities, or flattering coverage from talk show hosts, or free viral videos, or educational indoctrination, or religious indoctrination, or writing an op-ed, or simply talking to somebody? (An aside: more than a few of those alternatives are also paid for; we just don’t normally think of them that way.)

4. When the Constitution refers to citizens’ right to vote, it specifically uses the word right. Not obligation. Not requirement. Right. And a right that people are forced to exercise is not a right.

5. Speaking of which, what other such rights are you required to exercise?

6. If you think the campaigns are superficial and negative and obnoxious and just plain bad enough now, think about how bad they’re going to be when the campaigns have to go after the votes of people who don’t vote because they don’t care or because they don’t want to.

The long and short of it is that the government doesn’t have as much control over political speech as it used to, and Obama thinks the way around that is to force you to vote. If they can’t control your vote, they’ll control your speech. Since they can’t control your speech anymore, they’ll control your vote. This idea won’t come to fruition anytime soon, but oaks start off as acorns.

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