Mitch McConnell: Enemy of the People

Senator Mitch McConnell has gone too far, has far overstepped his bounds.  In fact, it would seem that there are no limits, no boundaries to what McConnell believes is within his rights.

There is hard, irrefutable, fact-based evidence that the Russians interfered in numerous ways with our 2016 election, likely the only reason we have a madman in the Oval Office today.  Set aside for the moment the issue of how involved Donald Trump’s campaign was with the Russian efforts, for while that is important, today I wish to address something else. mcconnell-2Our intelligence agencies have warned that the Russians are already up to their shenanigans in an effort to do a repeat performance in 2020.  Even Trump’s butt-kissing Attorney General Barr has said that conditions still exist that would allow this scenario to repeat in 2020.  FBI Director Christopher Wray and Robert Mueller have warned that if we do nothing, the 2020 election will be compromised.

Last year, a bill with bipartisan support in the Senate, the Secure Elections Act, that would have …

  • Promoted better information sharing about cybersecurity threats
  • Funded improvements to state election systems and processes through federal grants
  • Established a bug bounty program to uncover new vulnerabilities in election systems

Not enough, but a darn good start.  The bill was squelched just 90 minutes before it was set to be heard on August 22nd.  We now know who squelched it … Mitch McConnell.  Today, there are three bills in the Senate that address election security:

  • Protecting the Right to Independent and Democratic Elections (PRIDE) Act
  • Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act
  • Honest Ads Act, which would give online political ads the same disclosure requirements as political ads on television and other media

All three were introduced last year and re-introduced this year after the 115th Congress failed to act.  And, it looks as if the 116th will also fail to act, all because of one man:  Mitch McConnell.mcconnell-1Last week, it came to light from another senator, Roy Blunt of Missouri, that McConnell has made it quite clear that he will not allow the Senate to consider any election security bills.  Process that for a minute.  One man … one single man has the power to ensure that we will have an election, perhaps the most important election in our lifetimes, that completely lacks integrity.

His reason appears to be that any talk of the 2016 Russian interference upsets Donald Trump, and McConnell, among others, lacks the courage, the guts, to stand up to Trump and do the right thing.  How does such a wimp get elected to the Senate to begin with, let alone stay there for thirty-four years?  Mitch is 77 years of age … he’s well past his prime and is another of those old, bigoted white men that we need to purge from Congress!

This is the third time in a week that I have heard of people doing the wrong thing for the sole purpose of protecting Don Trump’s fragile ego.  Wake up, people!  Don Trump is 72 years old, not two.  If he couldn’t take the heat, he should have stayed out of the kitchen!

There is but one republican in all of Congress who I can respect, who has courage, who is not attached by puppet strings to Donald Trump, and that is Justin Amash.  But again, that is a story for another day.

I don’t know about you folks, but I am livid at the thought that an elected official, one who has been taking taxpayer money for 34 years now, would so blatantly act against the best interests of every single person in this nation in order to keep Trump happy, for everyone knows that if you make Trump angry, he will call you names.

Consider for a moment the results of the Russian interference in 2016.  We ended up with the most corrupt president the nation has ever seen.  A madman, a warmonger, a fool who acts first and thinks later, if he thinks at all.  And now, according to McConnell, we may well end up stuck with him for at least another four years, just because Mitch wishes to stay in the good graces of that same fool?  Not only that, but quite possibly the interference will filter down to congressional elections also, and it may be that he who gets the most votes … loses.

We’ve heard a lot about ‘obstruction of justice’ lately … is what McConnell is doing not also obstruction of justice?  He is, after all, keeping Congress from doing their job and denying the people of this nation, the people who pay his salary, the right to a fair and unfettered election.

Ramblings from a Bouncing Mind …

I came across an OpEd in The Washington Post a few days ago, the title of which intrigued me, so I read on.

People Don’t Vote for What They Want. They Vote for Who They Are.

Kwame

Kwame Appiah

The article, by Kwame Anthony Appiah, was interesting and well worth the read, but merely served as a springboard for the ideas that form this post.    It speaks of and attempts to explain the concept of ‘identity politics’ and ‘tribalism’.  Not being an anthropologist, psychologist nor philosopher, I don’t attempt to pick apart the concepts of the article.  But what struck me most, I think, is the title.  Is it true that we have set aside ideologies and instead vote based on … for the lack of a more apt word … tribes?

I really dislike the word ‘tribes’, for the first thing it brings to mind is killing, and the next thing it brings to mind is exclusivity.  Neither are positive images.  But to get to the point (yes, I saw you rolling your eyes and wondering if I actually had a point!), I question whether we … and by ‘we’ I mean all of us who are old enough to be even remotely political animals … republican, democrat or independent … have forgotten or set aside our ideology, our platforms, our very beliefs in favour of political party.

As I often do, I settled in for a conversation between me, myself and I.  I, of course, pooh-pooh-ed the idea, thinking that no, the whole point is the ideology, the things that I believe are right, such as protection of the environment, global cooperation, taking care of the poor, eliminating bigotry, support of diversity, etc.  But then ‘me’ popped up and asked a question that made me think:

“Isn’t everything you write these days simply a reaction to something Trump or his cronies has done?  Do you look at candidates’ platforms to see what they support and whether you agree with them?  Are you operating on an intellectual basis, or an emotional one?”

Doggone it … sometimes ‘me’ is smarter than I am.  This reminded me of a snippet from the article …

“… political cleavages are not so much “I disagree with your views” as “I hate your stupid face.” You can be an ideologue without ideology.”

Have we devolved to “I hate your stupid face”, or were we always this way?  When I voted on 08 November 2016, did I vote for Hillary Clinton, or against Donald Trump?  I had studied Hillary’s platform and agreed with about 99% of it, so it wasn’t as if I were an uneducated voter, taking my opinions from some Facebook meme.  But, myself asks, “Would you have voted even for Attila the Hun rather than Donald Trump?”  And that is a question I cannot seem to answer.

But perhaps the answer is less important than the question.  Perhaps the important thing is that we question ourselves, hold our own feet to the fire, search our own souls, as it were.  I can’t say that I would have voted for Attila, but would I have voted for a lesser candidate than Hillary?  Yes, I would have voted for almost anybody other than Trump.  And now comes the tough question:

Did I vote against Trump because he is an arrogant and obnoxious person, or because I disliked his political ideas?  In this case, I think I can answer clearly:  both.  But if he were the same obnoxious character he is, but had political ideas that I agreed with?  Then I don’t know, and that is the question, I think, that supersedes all others in this conversation with me and myself.  In that case, would I have voted for a lesser candidate who was more sophisticated, more … acceptable?

I don’t know all the answers, but my conclusion is that I think we need to be careful about falling into the trap of voting simply because a person is a democrat or republican, black or white, Christian, Muslim or atheist, or shares some other “tribal trait” that we admire.  I think this was the mentality that enabled Donald Trump to win in 2016 … too many saw Hillary as “not of [their] tribe”, as being ‘other’.  Why?  I mean, she is white, Christian, all those things some people seem to place so much value on these days.  But … she had the misfortune of being … woman.  Just as I believe that the majority of the hatred toward President Obama was race-based, I believe the hatred toward Hillary was primarily gender-based.  It made it easy for Trump to accuse her, unjustly, of being responsible for Benghazi, and even blaming her for her husband’s affairs, all the while screeching “Lock her up!”  And the masses quickly believed, for they were only looking for an excuse to hate her, and Trump gave them one.

As you have likely figured out by now, I have no idea where I was going with this post.  I started it a few nights ago, and every time I re-visit it, I realize that it lacks focus.  This is simply how my mind works when it’s under duress and decides to break loose from its moorings and bounce for a bit.  I can only hope that some part of this rambling post made sense.

Open Letter to Members of the U.S. Congress

Dear Members of Congress …

Once again, I am compelled on behalf of the citizens of this nation to ask you to please do the jobs you swore to do when you took that oath of office and swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution.  I urge you to recall, if you will, that Donald Trump is not your employer … We The People are, in fact, your employers.  As such, we are very concerned when we hear Trump threaten to interfere with the business of the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and most importantly, the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s influence into our election process in 2016.

Never before in the history of this nation has there been such corruption as we have seen these past 19 months, not even during the Watergate scandal, which pales in comparison to Trumpgate.  If Donald Trump is allowed to continue his worrisome tirades unchecked, there is a very real possibility that we will never know the truth about what happened and who was involved. In that case, elections may well never be fair and honest again in this nation.

There is already more than ample evidence that there was communication and camaraderie between Russian officials and members of the Trump family & campaign, and yet when he calls the investigation a “witch hunt”, you turn a blind eye.  We the People have not only a right, but also a responsibility to find out the truth and act accordingly.  YOU … the members of the legislative branch, the people who are supposed to provide the “checks and balances” on the executive power, certainly have a responsibility to ensure that the facts, the truth, comes out.  Thus far, you have not done the job for which you are being paid!

I, on behalf of every citizen of this nation, call on you today to introduce and pass bi-partisan legislation protecting the integrity of the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  For once in your term in office, please do the bidding of the people who voted you into office and whose hard-earned tax dollars are feeding your children.  This is, quite possibly, your last opportunity to do the right thing.

Sincerely,

We The People of the United States of America

There Was An FBI Informant Asking Questions Of President’s Campaign Team In 2016

For several days, Donald Trump has been claiming his campaign was spied on, infiltrated, by the FBI. To what end? Who knows. It is a paranoid delusion from the mind of a madman, if you ask me. As always, our friend Gronda is on top of the story with a nice summary of what is true and what isn’t, and what Trump’s likely goal is — to shut down the Mueller investigation. A man who is innocent does not act guilty, as Trump is doing. Please take a minute to read Gronda’s summary, for it clarifies the issue nicely. Thank you, Gronda!

Gronda Morin

Image result for cartoons of fbi informant trump

The FBI has been resisting providing the name of one of its confidential informants to GOP members in the White House and the US Congress because this would risk the informant’s life. But the GOP who are doing the president’s bidding could care less.

President Trump and his supporters including the US House Intel chair, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) are convinced that finding this man could derail the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe being led by the Special Counsel Robert Mueller III.

Image result for cartoons of fbi informant trump

As per a May 17, 2018 Washington Post report, “President Trump’s allies are waging an increasingly aggressive campaign to undercut the Russia investigation by exposing the role of a top-secret FBI source. The effort reached new heights Thursday as Trump alleged that an informant had improperly spied on his 2016 campaign and predicted that the ensuing scandal would be “bigger than Watergate!”

The fact is that there was an informant…

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Why Goats Can’t Vote … Redux

Recently I was having a conversation with our friend Hugh about voters and how so many are uninformed … should we even encourage those who haven’t taken the time to learn about the candidates, their  platforms and the issues, to go to the polls and cast a vote?  Later, as I was thinking about that conversation, I remembered a piece I wrote last spring, and thought that, with the mid-terms coming up in a few months, perhaps it was appropriate to run this one again.  (Yes, laziness/tiredness and my frequent companion, mind-bounce, all play a role here too.)  One of our goals in the coming months needs to be to encourage people to vote, certainly, but we need to also strive to help people understand the issues, understand the candidates’ views.

What if voters across the U.S. suddenly decided to read the Constitution, to educate themselves in the ways of our democracy?  What if they took their right to vote responsibly, instead of simply responding to bluster and television ads? What if they actually took the time and trouble to seek the knowledge that would enable them to make wise decisions in November? I read the following quote earlier today, “Never have so many people with so little knowledge made so many consequential decisions for the rest of us.”  It resonated with me, because that is precisely how I see the upcoming election.  Citizens, some of whom have never voted before, will be going to the polls armed, not with knowledge of how our government operates, not with knowledge of what the candidates actually stand for, but with what they have heard from television, their friends, and social media blurbs.

When a person from another country wishes to become a U.S. citizen, there is a process, a road to citizenship, at the end of which they must pass a citizenship test.  I have no issue with this … if they are going to live, work and vote in the US, they certainly should have some knowledge of the history and inner workings of the country.  Just for fun, let’s look at some of the questions that have appeared on this test from time-to-time and see how we do:

  1. What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803? (Louisiana Territory)
  2. We elect a U.S. Representative for how many years? (2 years)
  3. What is the economic system in the United States? (Capitalist economy)
  4. What year was the Constitution written? (1787)
  5. If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President? (Speaker of the House)

Now granted, these are not rocket-science questions, but there are 100 of these questions, plus an applicant for U.S. citizenship must survive an interview which includes 10 oral questions, of which 6 must be answered correctly.  Now for the interesting part.  In 2011, Newsweek asked 1,000 citizens/voters to take the citizenship test.  Only 62% of those who took the test passed!  If we extrapolate those numbers, it would appear that 38% of the voters headed to the polls in a few months do not have even basic knowledge of the government for which they will be selecting a leader!

More than 60 percent did not know the length of U.S. senators’ terms in office. And 43 percent couldn’t say that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are known as the Bill of Rights. Only 30 percent knew that the U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. only 36 percent could name all three branches of the U.S. government. Only 62 percent knew that the U.S. Supreme Court was tasked with determining the constitutionality of legislation. Fewer than half of Americans knew that split decisions in the Supreme Court have the same effect as 9 to 0 decisions.  This is pathetic. These are the people who are going to pick, not only the president, but also 34 senators and all 435 representatives.  The people who will make the decisions that will affect our lives, are going to be elected by people who do not even understand what our federal government does or how it functions!  If you aren’t scared yet, you should be!

PrintI could go into a whole spiel about why people are so ignorant of the basics of our government, ask questions about exactly what the schools are teaching in civics classes, but there is, I think, a better question:  Why do people not care enough to educate themselves?  100 years ago, even 30 years ago, this might have been forgivable.  But today, with the vast resources available to every man, woman and child via the internet?  No, there is simply no excuse for not having a basic understanding of how government works, or at least is supposed to function.  No excuse for not understanding what the issues facing the nation at this time are, or what each candidate believes, and learning whether their past actions actually support their claims.

When the framers of the Constitution wrote the document back in 1787, they purposely made the language simple enough for We The People to understand.  That included farmers and craftsmen.  One could reasonably expect that if it was understood by a farmer 229 years ago when the average person had less than 8 years of formal education, almost every registered voter today should surely be able to understand it.  And it doesn’t take long to read … it is, after all, only 7,591 words, including amendments.  An easily readable document, yet it would appear that a large percentage of voters have not done so.

There have been numerous attempts recently at ‘voting reform’ that serve to disenfranchise certain groups, such as the poor, Hispanics, and African-Americans. I would propose instead of requiring certain forms of identification that are likely to disqualify voters based on race or income level, we mail each registered voter a ‘voter-aptitude’ test similar to the citizenship test.  Any voter who scores below 75% would not be eligible to vote in the November election. Even if they cheated by looking up the answers on the internet, at least they would have learned something, expanded their knowledge and become more worthy of making the decisions that will ultimately affect my life … and yours.

I honestly am not trying to sound like a snob.  I am simply appalled at the number of people in this country who will be choosing a president, senators and representatives based only on what they see on television or read on Facebook memes. I think we should have the right to expect our voters to be at least as qualified as we expect immigrants to be in order to make these choices. Knowledge is what sets humans apart from goats … it’s why goats can’t vote.

informed-voter-is-good-voter

What’s Best Way To Insure Integrity Of The Vote In 2018?/ Florida Is Vulnerable

There is no longer a question of whether the Russians interfered with our 2016 election. They did. There is hard evidence to that effect. The remaining questions pertain to who was involved in helping the Russian government ensure that Donald Trump would be elected. The bigger question is how are we going to stop the Russians from interfering in our mid-term elections this November? Friend Gronda has written an excellent post on what we, as citizens and voters, can do … must do … to ensure election integrity, and we cannot afford to waste time, for the election is in a short nine months! Please read this post and use the helpful links she has provided to do your part to help make sure our votes count as we intend them to. Thank you, Gronda, for such great information!

Gronda Morin

The only person who is denying that US state voting computer data bases were attacked with several being penetrated in 2016 by Russian government operatives is the US republican President Donald Trump because he feels to admit this reality challenges his legitimacy.

Meanwhile, “we the people” are left with doing our part to light a fire under our US legislators to take action to protect our voting systems from being vulnerable to a repeat performance by Russia in the 2018 November mid-term elections.

There should be a push at a minimum  to have no electronic machines (DRE) without a corresponding paper trail for auditing purposes. Right now there are 15 states with this status.

My State of Florida is one of them where there are DRE electronic voting machines in various counties which are not equipped with a corresponding paper trail.

Watch the full interview with former CIA Chief…

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Charles Blow’s Thoughts About Donna Brazile’s Tell All Book On Hillary Clinton

The disastrous outcome of the 2016 election could have been prevented in so many ways, but it serves no purpose to look back and cry. When we look back, it should be to learn lessons from mistakes made. The “new” Democratic Party is being built as we speak, and friend Gronda has shared an excellent post about that. Please take a few moments to read! Thank you, Gronda!!!

Gronda Morin

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I have already stated my opinion that Donna Brazile as the former head of the Democratic National Committee had every right to have her book published. However, my analysis is that her underlying premise that the democratic candidate rigged the nomination process is way overstated.

Here are the thoughts on this subject by one of my favorite columnist…

On November 5, 2017, Charles M. Blow of the New York Times penned the following report, “The New Democratic Party.”

“A year ago this week, America made what I believe history will record as one of the greatest electoral mistakes in the life of the nation: It elected Donald Trump president of the United States.”

“It did so while drowning in Russia-produced propaganda, under a torrent of Russia-stolen emails, facing the stiff arm of renewed voter suppression, and on the watch of a splintering and dysfunctional Democratic Party.”

“All of those…

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HOW Could I Have Been So Wrong???

duhYesterday I was going back through some of my posts from the end of 2015, the beginning of the disastrous 2016 election campaign, as I was looking for something specific.  During my search, I came across a post from 27 October 2015 and I decided to repost it this morning, as it should be good for a few laughs and a whole lot of head shaking.   Most of you began reading my blog after this post was published, so for most it will be new material, and you will ask, “How could you have been so wrong, Filosofa???”  Trust me, I am asking myself the same question. The original title of the post was …

Trump Supporters? Where???

The Donald Trump that some 20% of republicans seem to love is loud, obnoxious and bombastic, which leaves me scratching my head and wondering just what that says about those who claim to support him.  But the bigger question I have is this:  where the heck ARE those 20%???  I have among my friends, relatives and acquaintances many republicans, and not a single one of them can even tolerate Trump, let alone support him.  To a person they agree with my assessment of him as a clown, a joke, a narcissist, take your pick.  In addition, I am an avid reader of op-ed pages in many of the major, mainstream news media, and have yet to read a single opinion by political analysts, editors, writers or voters that support Trump or his inane ideas.  So, I repeat the question, who are these people who have elevated his poll numbers and where are they hiding?

Until now, I have left Trump alone and not written about him except in response to an op-ed in the New York Times, for a number of reasons.  The main reason is that I do not think he or his candidacy is actually worth wasting my time or effort.  The second reason is that the man is so wrong on so many issues that it would be impossible to discuss them all in a single post.  Third, everything there is to be said about Trump has already been said by people far more qualified than I.  Lastly, I get a nauseous feeling every time I hear his name or see his picture.  But alas, I decided to join in the fray for two reasons, the first being that I think there is danger in allowing his rhetoric to go unchecked.  The second is that I heard him say that he “just doesn’t get it” that Ben Carson has edged above him in the polls.  What is there to “not get”?  Though I do not consider Dr. Carson to be a viable option to govern this nation, I will at least give him credit for intelligence (although not when it comes to politics, government and foreign policy), being soft-spoken (very refreshing after Trump’s in-your-face ranting persona) and for not lowering himself to the petty criticisms and attacks on his opponents for which Trump is so well-known.

Trump, in crowing proudly about his poll numbers has forgotten a couple of salient points.  First, the election is more than a year away, and early polls are rarely an accurate predictor of the eventual outcome.  Second, neither he nor Dr. Carson nor any other republican candidate have anything remotely close to a majority.  Third, the Republican Party is only one of the two major parties in the nation and there are some 42% of eligible voters who are not committed to either party.  There are two strong contenders in the democratic field, both of whom have distinct advantages over both Trump and Carson.  First, they both have experience in policy-making and governance, and secondly, while the republicans have been conducting a circus, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been seriously speaking about issues that matter to the American people, issues such as jobs, the economy, minimum wage, climate change and the environment, the gun lobby, the Iran nuclear agreement and more.  Whether one agrees with their opinions or not is not my point.  My point is that at least they are discussing issues, things that matter to “We the People”, and doing so with knowledge and experience, without mud-slinging and name-calling, and giving the voters an opportunity to actually consider their viewpoints.  Now, what Trump, Carson and every other republican candidate need to realize is that whoever ultimately gains the GOP nomination will need to convince a fairly large number of voters outside the republican party that they are the best person for the job, and in light of the current circus-atmosphere, that is likely to be a very tough sell.

All of which brings me back to my original question:  where are the people who supposedly support Trump, the people who have kept his poll rankings in the 20% range for a few months?  It is to be hoped that over the course of the next twelve months, the American people step back and look at the bigger picture, that they do their own research into the issues and weed out the candidates who can only bring disaster to our nation.  Trump has made the claim that “our country is going to hell”.  Despite numerous social and economic problems, our country is a far cry from “going to hell”.  We still have more going for us than working against us, and I believe that the citizens of this nation still hold basic values of caring, compassion and humanity.  Why would anyone want to vote for a candidate that doesn’t even believe in his country?

Updated Version Of Motive For June 9, 2016 Meeting Between Trump Team And Russian Lawyer

If it were not such a violation of our democratic election process, if it had not led to the abomination that now resides in the White House, if it were not such a threat to our very form of government and our freedoms, I would find this whole situation ridiculous and laughable. But I cannot laugh. I refer, of course, to the latest chapter in the Russia-Trump saga that I have long been referring to as a tangled web. Now more spiders have joined in the web-spinning, and still I believe there is more to come. Trump, his minions, and his children conspired to steal the 2016 presidential election, and now we are left to try to clean up the mess and pick up the pieces. As I knew she would be, blogger-friend Gronda is on top of the latest … please take a few minutes to read her latest post about the collusion that led to the defilement and destruction of the office of president. Many thanks, Gronda, for all your hard work and for permission to share!

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos of donald trump jr jared kushner and paul manafort MANAFORT/ KUSHNER/ tRUMP jR.

Jonathan Lemire of the AP published a report on June 9, 2016 which included information that a Manhattan meeting at Trump Tower had kicked off the Trump Victory Fund, the joint cash-raising operation with the RNC that was planned to gather money both for his candidacy and for House and Senate GOP candidates. This means that while his son Donald Jr. was holding a meeting at Trump Towers with the Russian lawyer / Kremlin operative, President Trump was nearby. Both events occurred on a Thursday, June 9, 2016 and a few days after he had cinched the republican nomination. 

Based on the AP report, it appears that Paul  Manafort was heavily involved with setting up the fund raising meeting. But he was also present at he 6/9/16 meeting that was attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared kushner and that Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.

Updated Major News Item…

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The Case For Compulsory Voting …

There are a number of reasons that we in the U.S. find ourselves with a madman at the helm.  Certainly, the Russian connection played a role, though it remains to be seen just how much of a role.  James Comey, perhaps pressured by another, played a role.  Voter laws that disenfranchised members of certain groups had a role.  But perhaps the largest reason was voter apathy … many were simply too lazy or too disgusted with both candidates to take an hour out of their year to go vote.

Only about 25% of eligible voters voted for Donald Trump.  Let that one sink in for a moment.  About ¼ of citizens over the age of 18 voted for Trump, yet he now sits in the Oval Office.  Voter turnout in the 2016 election was only around 55%.* Barely half of all those who had the opportunity to make their voices heard chose to do so.  That, my friends, is pathetic. It should be criminal … and in some places it is.

In Australia, voting is compulsory for federal and state elections for citizens aged 18 and above. A postal vote is available for those for whom it is difficult to attend a polling station. Early, or pre-poll, voting at an early voting centre is also available for those who might find it difficult to get to a polling station on election day. Eligible citizens who fail to vote at a State election and do not provide a valid and sufficient reason for such failure, will be fined. The penalty for first time offenders is $20, and this increases to $50 if you have previously paid a penalty or been convicted of this offense.

While compulsory voting is not widespread around the globe, there are 22 countries with mandatory voting laws on the books, of which 11 actually enforce said laws.  In most cases, penalties for failure to vote are minimal, a slap on the wrist, but the law does compel most to vote.  Higher voter turnout leads to governments with more stability, legitimacy and a genuine mandate to govern. Let us look at some of the pros and cons of compulsory voting.

Pros

  • A higher degree of political legitimacy: the victorious candidate therefore represents a majority of the population.
  • High levels of participation decreases the risk of political instability created by crises or charismatic demagogues.
  • Removes obstacles for minorities and other marginalized groups who are typically disenfranchised by voter laws.
  • Makes it more difficult for extremist or special interest groups to get themselves into power or to influence mainstream candidates. If fewer people vote, then it is easier for lobby groups to motivate a small section of the people to the polls and influence the outcome of the political process.
  • Since campaign funds are not needed to goad voters to the polls, the role of money in politics decreases.

Cons

  • It is essentially a compelled speech act, which violates freedom of speech because the freedom to speak necessarily includes the freedom not to speak.
  • People do not wish to be compelled to vote for a candidate they have no interest in or knowledge of.
  • Certain religions, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, may be against political participation.

I believe the ‘pros’ far outweigh the ‘cons’, and the arguments against compulsory voting are easy enough to overcome.  A system for compulsory voting may include an exclusion based on religious beliefs.  I have no sympathy with the argument that people may not have knowledge of a candidate.  Perhaps 50, or even 20 years ago I might have, but today, with the touch of a button people can educate themselves about the candidates and their platforms.  To fail to do so is simply a matter of laziness.  When it comes to not liking either candidate, there may be an option on the ballot to select ‘none of the above’.  At least in this case, it is understood that the voter is making a statement, stating a preference.

As for the argument that it may infringe on a person’s right to free speech, I would claim that along with rights come responsibilities.  The right to vote is equally a responsibility to participate in the election of the people whose decisions will affect every person within the country.  Voter apathy is either not caring or being too lazy to spend one hour a year going to the polls to make your voice heard.  Voter fatigue, however, is something entirely different, and I believe that it was this, more than anything, that led to the low turnout in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. The campaign began in earnest in July 2015, and from that time forward we were subjected to almost non-stop debates, media coverage, rallies, political advertisements, and divisive vitriol.  Campaigns and election seasons have become almost non-stop, as we have seen by the fact that Trump is already campaigning for re-election in 2020.  I would very much like to see a moratorium on all campaign advertisements and events until three months prior to the actual election.

One final argument in favour of compulsory voting is that it is likely to lead to more moderate, less extremist candidates winning office.  According to political scientist, Waleed Aly:

“In a compulsory election, it does not pay to energize your base to the exclusion of all other voters. Since elections cannot be determined by turnout, they are decided by swing voters and won in the center… That is one reason Australia’s version of the far right lacks anything like the power of its European or American counterparts. Australia has had some bad governments, but it hasn’t had any truly extreme ones and it isn’t nearly as vulnerable to demagogues.”

While I understand that, especially in today’s political climate, it is highly unlikely we will adopt a system of mandatory voting, I would be in full support of such a measure.  The current system under which only 25% of the population selected the leader whose chaotic leadership is wreaking havoc in our nation makes our system far less of a democracy than we believe. (I found an interesting breakdown by state of voter turnout in the 2016 election.)

Compulsory voting would solve only a part of the problem with U.S. elections.  The other two remaining issues that render our current system less than fully representative of the population are gerrymandering and the electoral college.  An overhaul of both these would certainly lead to more representative outcomes, but until every person who is eligible to vote chooses to do so, We The People will continue to be led by leaders who were not elected by the majority of the citizenry, but rather the most outspoken.

* Interestingly, the highest voter turnout in the past two decades was in 2008, when 62.2% of voters participated in the election of Barack Obama.