Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Better a Non-Voter than an Emoter Voter

Of course the right to vote is important. But should we be encouraging people to exercise it, regardless of whether they’ve bothered to become informed? Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park and Team America: World Police (coming out this Friday!) get it exactly right:
“I think just saying ‘Vote or Die’ is a serious danger to democracy,” Stone told [Rolling Stone magazine] of P. Diddy's voter initiative, with Parker adding, in what is described as a “Cartman-esque voice,” “Hey, 19-year-old who doesn’t know anything -- you choose.” Concluded Stone, “If you don't know what you’re talking about, there's no shame in not voting. They say if you don't vote, you can’t bitch. But you can bitch all you want. This is America.”
It’s pretty obvious to me that emoter voters are hardly a boon to democratic government. But some disagree. Sean Penn sent Parker and Stone an angry letter:
“I never mind being of service, in satire and silliness,” Penn is quoted as saying in the letter (good thing, because he's reportedly mocked in the movie). “I do mind when anybody who doesn’t have a child, doesn’t have a child at war, or isn’t or won’t be in harm’s way themselves, is encouraging that there’s ‘no shame in not voting if you don't know what you're talking about.’”

Continues Penn, “It's all well to joke about me or whomever you choose. Not so well to encourage irresponsibility that will ultimately lead to the disembowelment, mutilation, exploitation, and death of innocent people throughout the world. The vote matters to them. No one’s ignorance, including a couple of hip cross-dressers’, is an excuse.”
Now it becomes clear what Penn really wants. He pretends he just wants people to vote – but what he really wants is for people to vote for Democrats, John Kerry specifically. If Penn encountered a 19-year-old Bush-supporter, I’ll bet he wouldn’t tell him he should vote. The only reason Penn and his ilk want the youth demographic as a whole to vote is they believe that young people skew Democratic.

It happens that, in this particular election, I’m on Penn’s side – not because of Kerry’s awful platform, but because gridlock is good. But it’s self-righteous nonsense for Penn to claim he’s championing democracy while Parker & Stone defend irresponsibility. The opposite is closer to the truth. Penn says people should vote even if they are utterly ignorant of the stakes, while Parker & Stone say it’s better for people to actually know something before they head to the polls.


Anonymous said...

Is there any empirical justification for the belief that gridlock leads to less spending? I'd really, really like to believe this.


Anonymous said...

C'mon Glen! You may prefer "gridlock" but are you really voting on that basis? I can't believe that's the main reason you would vote for Kerry over Bush. As a highly educated, intellectual guy, I can't imagine you voting for Bush even if the Democrats controlled the house and senate. Penn may be an insincere fake but don't you fake me out! If we want to encourage "starving" students to vote then maybe we should pay (or feed) them to do it. Yes, let's let economic incentives back into the picture. Don't get mad just yet; I didn't suggest another bloated government program. I think concerned people like Penn should start a charitable fund to pay the brats to vote. Or, how about combining a free pre-Thanksgiving meal with the polling place. Yeah, let's make voting a truly social (let's party!!) event! Sean, put your money where your mouth is. And, Glen, stop playing us for fools. Personally, I'd vote for you (or Daffy Duck) over Shrubya any day of the week regardless of your party affiliation. I may write your name in anyway (free food or not). How does President Whitman sound? I'll flatter you just this once: you'd make a better president than either one of those guys. Now, if only we could pull you away from the boob tube long enough to govern.

-Hungry Poll Cat

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to figure out how someone could listen to Kerry talk about how to wreck the American economy and ruin health care last night and talk about how he is the "rational" choice.

If he wins, I sure hope he cannot enact any of his harebrained "plans".

Glen Whitman said...

Poll Cat -- I can see through your disguise, Trumpit! That wagon is mightly slippery.

Anonymous -- I agree, Kerry's positions are terrible. But I think a Republican Congress would resist Kerry's initiatives, whereas they roll over for everything Bush asks for (and he signs everything they send him).

Jody said...

On the gridlock thing - Glan, what makes you think that this particular Republican congress would behave like the principled (read as fiscally conservative) Republican congress of the 90's?

Most of the principled guys left. Why wouldn't the rump choose to roll over when challenged with being obstructionists?