A Counterintuitive Way to Make Voters Politically Smarter
In my opinion, a high-information electorate is one where the vast majority of voters can answer at least 5-of-7 questions from the Pew Research Civics Quiz.
What’s the benefit of a high-information electorate?
A voter’s the boss of his public servants, therefore, how effective would an institution be if a boss hired his employees based on how they looked, sounded, made him feel, or where they stood on a single issue, “Free lunch for all!”?
Imagine if the boss wasn’t even sure what his employees do?! A smart employee would therefore spend less time working and more time pontificating about sandwiches.
If the boss was however more knowledgeable then his employees would have to be more effective if they want to keep their job. The more voters understand and care about a problem then the more their politicians will understand and care about a problem. Public servants would therefore be less actor and more statesman.
How can we create a high-information electorate aka a “smartocracy”?
One way is to add voting requirements, such as by making voters answer correctly the above civics questions.
If that’s too much of a hassle then the government could just disenfranchise demographics that have a disproportionate number of low-information voters such as by re-raising the voting age to 21 years old, requiring voters to be above-average-IQ (i.e. a geniocracy), below-obesity (you’ll be weighed privately behind a curtain, of course), white, male, and/or a property-owner.
If any of those measures were taken we’d have a higher information electorate. The political information gap is well-documented between young and old, poor and rich, black/hispanic and white, women and men. Don’t hate the fact-checker, hate the facts.
So in order for us to create a smartocracy am I recommending that we only let old rich white skinny college-educated high-IQ men capable of passing a civics quiz vote?
Of course not. By removing people from the electorate it doesn’t remove them from our society. There are many problems associated with disenfranchising a large portion of a population, which is why America, and the world for that matter, rightly moved away from such requirements in the 20th and 21st centuries.
I believe the best way to create a high-information electorate is to take the counterintuitive approach by making voting easier so we can consistently have high-turnout elections such as we see in other democratic countries: Australia 92%, Belgium 87%, Sweden 83%, South Korea 78%, Israel 71% New Zealand 76%, Germany 69%, France 68%, United Kingdom 63%.
A well informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny. — Thomas Jefferson
We can make it easier to vote by decreasing wait times (no American should have to wait more than 10 minutes to vote), decreasing commute time (no American should have to drive more than 30 minutes to vote), making it a national holiday, same-day voter registration (voter ID required).
Here are five reasons why I believe high-turnout elections will eventually lead to a smartocracy…
More Consistent: Studies show that the more consistent a person votes (not in the same election boys and girls!) the more political knowledge they’ll acquire over time. Practice makes perfect! When your voting every year you’ll increase your political knowledge just by osmosis. At every polling place, there’s knowledge in the air! Breathe deep! No mask!
More Rational: In a way, the days of low-turnout may very well be gone because Big Tech is the greatest GOTV tool. So if people are going to vote anyway then isn’t it better if they vote because it’s easy to do rather than because they were made angry enough to do so? If it was easier to vote campaigns would be designed less around revving up the extremes and more toward appealing to the boring middle again, which would not only serve to appeal to the middle, but also draw people toward the middle. Many people are tribalistic in their politics. If you tell me your a Republican or Democrat I probably already know 95%+ of your views. Rational people are not so easy to pin down. Trump or Biden could do the exact same thing and depending on who did it would create the opposite reaction from the other team. Touchdown! YEAHHH! BOOOO! High-turnout elections will cause more undecided people in the middle to vote, which their lack of partisanship would enable politicians to be less partisan too!
More Old Men: There is no need to increase the voting age because we already have an aging population where the youth will make up less and less of the vote over time. In addition, despite men being more informed they actually vote less often than women. By making it easier to vote, we’ll close this gender gap.
More Political Freedom: In America, black people are largely Democrat by default. This is because to be a black conservative means being ostracized by your community. The social pressure is IMMENSE, especially by the influence-industrial-complex. Obey! If you ever speak to an American black conservative then chances are you are speaking to a high-information voter. They wanted to believe what their friends and family were telling them, but they found that the more they learned the less they liked it until eventually, they felt they had no choice but to #WalkAway. We already see cracks in the Democratic party’s iron grip over the black community. Many of America’s most prominent black voices have A LOT of conservative views: Terry Crews, Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Kanye West, Morgan Freedman. By making it easier to vote, black Americans will vote in greater numbers. As their political information increases (and median income), they’ll vote for Republicans in greater numbers. The trend grew in 2020. Republicans will as a consequence canvass more in black neighborhoods. We should all welcome the day when race doesn’t determine our vote. Many Democrats reading this may be throwing up in their mouths as to the implications of this point, but please recognize that cities like Detroit and Cleveland have been in one-party control for decades! National politics is one thing, but when it comes to local politics people should be more flexible in their vote because city politics is far less about ideology and far more about competence, but if one party knows they’ll always win a city or a district then how competent can you expect them to be? I will also add this is not as big of a deal to cities or districts that have been Republican-run for decades because local Republican politicians usually vote away their power via spending/regulation/tax decreases. There’s problems with this too, but it’s better to have a minarchist government than a runaway government.
More Income: Democrats win the low-income, low-information, low-age vote (these three factors are highly correlated). That’s not an attack, just a fact. Democrats can proudly say that they disproportionally represent the poor whereas Republicans can proudly say they disproportionally represent the middle class. Both parties evenly divide the rich. But my point here is that conservatives win when median income is higher! Making it harder to vote is a way for Republicans to discourage “young, stup*d, and poor” people from voting, but that’s like putting a bandaid over the underlying problem. In America, the youth vote used to be more evenly divided. As recently as 2000, young voters were no more likely to vote Democratic than the general voting population. And then why does the richest country on Earth have so many miseducated and impoverished individuals? If America just did a better job in educating our youth in the constitution and in STEM then Republicans wouldn’t need to reduce itself to gerrymandering and creating an obstacle course to the ballot box. And if Republicans finally got on with balancing the federal budget and stopped with its socialism for the rich then we’d have a much more stable republic. In a similar vein, I believe we should live our values. The ends doesn’t justify the means. Be honest! Don’t tell me to “Vote!” and then turn around and vote for politicians who will make it harder for me to do just that. I value my time and energy and it’s about time my public servants did too. Voter fraud/irregularities is a legitimate issue, but if we could put a man on the moon then we could do what numerous democracies around the world do by making it easier and securer to vote. The question isn’t American capability, but political will! Conservatives should stop giving Republicans a “Get Out of Jail” free card for its failure to do simple conservative things like not increase federal spending when we had a Republican President/Senate/House during what was already a growing economy. If Republicans want to win then INCREASE median income instead of trying to DECREASE voter turnout; lift Americans up instead of kick voters down.
Ultimately, what America do you want to live in? Do you want to live in an angry, hyper-polarized idiocracy? Or do you want to live in a dispassionate, independent-minded smartocracy? I trust you with the vote because, in the end, I believe if you’re informed you’ll usually make the right one.