Today is Election Day, which means that a great many professional to semi-professional scolds will be hectoring you to vote, calling it a “civic duty” and invoking such clichés as “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.” The business of this Tuesday, they say, is to “make your voice heard.”
Okay. That’s Tuesday. What is the business of Wednesday?
Procedural majoritarian democracy — voting and the subsequent peaceable exchange of political power — is admirable and necessary not because, as another cliché insists, “we are all equal at the polling place.” There is no equality among people in this world — some people have some pretty stupid political opinions, and they act on them — and the notional “equality before the law” that we Americans cleave to describes the character of our institutions, not the character of our people.
The value of voting is that it is the easiest nonviolent means of ensuring a minimum level of accountability among lawmakers and high officials. If we do not like the principal figures in our governments, we can change them. Voting is a practical measure, not an affirmation of every ignorant sentiment and selfish demand from every Larry, Caitlyn, and Avery across the fruited plain. If there were an easier and more reliable method for ensuring accountability than asking 50 percent plus 1 of the people what they think about things they don’t know very much about (there’s no shame in rational ignorance; it is rational, after all), the world would be a better place, at least a better-governed place. But there isn’t. So we vote.
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