Man Without Qualities

Monday, November 04, 2002

Night On Vote Mountain: The Goo Goos Come Out!

The brief period between Halloween and Election Day is normally haunted by the Goo Goos and their howls that all eligible voters should exercise that right.

This year, William Safire gives off a particularly vigorous hoot, even as he tries to deny he is performing yeoman Goo Goo service.

Lost in these exhortations all neglect is any cogent reason for goading any voters to the polls who would not go anyway.

Mr. Safire's suggestions - which range from allowing voting procedures more open to fraud, to government financed $100 bribes, to punishing non-voters, to shutting down much of the nation's aggregate economic activity on election day - sure would be expensive and annoying. But how likely is it that people who wouldn't vote without Mr. Safire's goadings are informed voters in the first place?

So these huge societal expenses are likely for the purpose of collecting the votes of politically uninformed people who don't otherwise care to walk a couple of blocks? Somebody actually thinks the government would become more legitimate and/or responsive to any important need because of such participation?

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