Friday, November 4, 2016

Pros and Cons of Compulsory Voting!

Hey again!

With the presidential election coming up next week, and everybody holding their breath, I want to cover what I think is an appropriate topic.
In recent years, many countries have considered and enforced the idea of compulsory (required) voting. If you want to see the list of these countries, check out the link at the end of this post!

So, un-like my last blog post, I started out with a firm opinion. Compulsory voting seemed like an extremely good idea. However, when talking about the subject with some friends, somebody asked me,

"Well, what would be the cons of compulsory voting? How is it a bad thing?"

I didn't know! That drove me to do some more research about the opposing argument and I discovered a ton of interesting information! Here is the basics of what I found:

When a nation requires citizens to vote, a couple of things happen. The first positive effect is the relinquishing of money's influence in politics.
President Obama said in a speech in March of 2015 that the people inclined not to vote tend to be lower income and skewed further toward immigrant groups and minorities. The more cash people have in today's world, the more powerful they tend to be. Mandatory voting would spread that power around more evenly and allow America to be a place where everybody gets equal say like the ideal of democracy implies.

But, often minority groups are less educated that the average voter and will not be as careful when choosing a candidate they wish to represent. The tilting effect that this principle would have on elections is what we like to call "the rise of the uninformed voter" and it's highly dangerous. I don't want the people around me to vote based upon Hillary's favorite color, Trump's haircut, or anything minor like that. We need to be listening to what is really happening, not just carelessly casting our ballots.

A second good fruit of compulsory voting is the voter turnout rate-- the number of people who actually show up at the poles. Voter turnout has been at its lowest since 1942, with less than 37% of the eligible population participating in midterm elections. In the future, we want larger numbers, representing a diverse sample of Americans, for more accurate election results. We want what the majority wants.
 Simply, American citizens don't want to be capitally punished, so they follow the law, right?

Well, mostly. However, what do we do with the stubborn people who don't come and vote? This might be a major turnoff for the government in future years as they consider enforcing compulsory voting. More money will need to be spent on law enforcement and conflict could easily arise concerning the type of punishment used. Some people even argue that compulsory voting infringes on their freedom of choice and religion, as some religious sects ask their members to refrain from political activity. Could we still manage to sleep at night if we punished them?

Finally, one of the best outcomes of requiring citizens to vote is that, then, voting becomes a civic norm, therefore making it easier. The responsibility of finding places for everyone to vote shifts from the individual to the county or state governments. If somebody in this situation does not have access to political activity, it does not become their fault. One interesting example of this would be an attempt to help people in prisons or hospitals vote. Voting becomes a duty, not just a right, and it will rest on the shoulders of the government.

There is also one more negative result connected to my point here. It really roots from the word "norm" which can mean that we, as a society, take something for granted. It's not that everybody's totally politically ignorant, but sometimes we just don't care. Is it possible that voting would become like jury duty-- something most people try to avoid? Let's be honest. The answer is yes.

Compulsory voting is still a new idea to our nation and has it's bugs, just like every other political issue. But who knows? Maybe America will someday adopt this system as our own!

Now, I'm torn by all these amazing ideas and still trying to form an opinion of my own. I'd love to hear you thoughts on why requiring citizens to vote is or isn't a good idea. Let me know down in the comments and I'll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Just remember the rules: Kindness is compulsory! Don't post anything rude or irrelevant, and check back again next month for more.

Or, if you're interested further and you can't wait that long, check out these other fantastic articles on the same topic!

Happy voting ~Paige

Extra articles:

List of countries with compulsory voting: 

Monday, October 10, 2016

 Sometimes, in the course of human events, it is necessary for a blog to change ownership and be renewed. Since my mom has stopped posting on here, I stepped up and said I'd like to make it my own. Allow me to introduce myself! I'm Paige (that mysterious girl you might have read about in my mom's previous posts) and, while I hope that heaven isn't anything like high school, I can't deny the power of learning new things. 

    One really interesting thing I've learned about recently is democracy, its form, and how it's helped our nation. Every month, I'm going to add some sort of debate or essay-not necessarily about democracy-but about government in general, for you to consider and comment on! 
So, without further ado: 

I laughed pretty hard upon hearing Oprah Winfrey's voice in my head shouting:
"You get a democracy! You get a democracy! Everybody gets a democracy!!!" I guess you can say that statement is pretty congruent with some periods in history (especially directly after the cold war and 9-11) in which the main goal of our government was to spread itself like a virus. 
    For centuries, most of the world feared the barbaric idea of rule by the people. There were exceptions, of course, although these countries were a harsh minority.

    But this philosophy changed big time through new, "western ideas" and by the mid 19th century, democracy was the thing! Maybe some countries weren't too happy, who knows? Wait, it gets better! Even after the bathtubs of blood that were spilt based on the whole "democracy is right and everyone else is wrong" thing, Americans still debate the subject of influencing change in the other governments. 

    So, should we push for the "right" ideas before anyone else does, and promote peace for mankind, or is it better just to bury our heads in the sand and not got blown off the face of the earth? 

    Before you make your decision, I'd like to make you aware of five arguments for and against the active spread of democracy…

Seemingly, the most self evident argument in favor of worldwide democracy is the fact that we could have greater peace within society. Historical studies have shown that democracies are much less war-like than other regimes. And if you have a bunch of them clumped together they're more likely to agree with one another. Sounds pretty great...

In opposition to this theory, many argue that calling for democracy in other regimes could easily cause outbreaks of war and bloodshed. They claim that poking and prodding at another's agency is more trouble than it's worth. Desire for a change in government should come from within the country itself. 
In short, a new democracy is like a butter knife. It can spread the love, but it can still stab you.

Robert Ingersoll, a politically influential man in the golden age of thought, once said: "We rise by lifting     others." Generosity can be thought of as a virtue and people in favor of spreading democracy are inclined to assume that the world will love what they have to give. Through our service, we will be recognized as enthusiasts and do-gooders (even at a high cost.)

"And who are these "do-gooders" to be spending America's limited money, blood, and energy?!" The other party persists. Members say our regime requires enough maintenance alone, without worrying about surrounding nations. We are already in deep debt and, quite obligated to care for ourselves, thank you very much.

Let's go back to the thought that democracies appear less war-like and take a look at the other side of the situation. For autocracies, oligarchies, and governments down on the totalitarian end of the scale, fighting is common. Because average Joes like us disapprove of living in corrupt, evil places, they flee. What do we get? Refugees. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria alone. Wouldn't it be nice to reduce that number? Democracy can be used as a tool for suffering nations (like our own) in circumstances like this. You know what they say, a democracy a day keeps the less fortunate away…

Wait, who said that? Did they really say that?
The truth is, I made that up. It has a nice ring to it, sure, but people who oppose would not be happy. Aside from a substantial amount of refugees, their argument states, America also has a good system to support these people. And economic benefits come from this inflammation in the United States population. Maybe it's just better to welcome others to our democracy instead of focusing on perfecting theirs.

Terrorists are another group of people that we may want to prevent throughout the world. Autocracy is a lovely playground for terrorism. Therefore, democracies can help put a stop to terror. No more funding and public support from two faced political leaders. Not with the active spread of democracy!

The other side isn't arguing that terrorism is "the bomb"(no pun intended) but what they are saying is that terrorists are smart enough to find loopholes. There is really no quantifiable evidence that democracies stop terrorists. People all over the world have sympathized with Islam's concerns. Plus, even if we all had perfect governments and leaders (which is way too far-fetched to actually happen) there is no guarantee wealthy individuals or organizations won't illegally smuggle money to terrorists. Risky either way.

If everybody could just want democracy, that would be great. The fact of the matter is, they don't all want democracy. And even if a government wants change, they can't always bring it about themselves. Perhaps they don't have the time, the resources, or the votes to make it happen.
Waiting for everyone to act is simply too utopian. We need to help others become democracies before they help themselves become anarchies.

But then, unilateral action is so dangerously dependent on political whim that maybe we shouldn't spread democracy! If these other nations want us to stay out of their business, then we will just stress them out when we're trying to help. Again, anarchy could occur. These regimes might shoot us out of the sky. You really gotta know your audience…

After all this, do you think our government is superior to rule by few and can't be proved wrong? Why should we or should we not spread democracy and let our cups overflow to the world? And if we should, how?

Leave your opinion down in the comments (just remember, be respectful of others' ideas and don't argue)!!!! Thanks for reading this and thinking about it. And don't forget to check back next month for another government related post.

Peace out