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The “Transformative” Tyranny of Mandatory Voting

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

The longer Barack Obama serves in office, the more difficult it becomes to really consider him as “President of the United States.” The man’s respect for, and his understanding of, our form of government appears to diminish with each speech he gives, and with each action he takes as President. Still, he is if nothing else, consistent.


Barack Obama has been consistently truthful with the American people in telegraphing his desire of “fundamentally transforming” the United States of America. He exhorted citizens to do precisely that by voting for him in 2008. His signature legislative victory – Obamacare – delivered in 2010, is in the final stages of transforming health care in America from a system driven by the doctor-patient relationship, to one controlled from start to finish, and directly or indirectly, by government.

Obama’s drive to “transform” has not stopped at the ocean’s edge. Through a continuing series of inept moves in the Middle East, Russia, and elsewhere, he has succeeded in transforming America from an influential world superpower, to a nation as much mistrusted as respected on vital security matters.

As disturbing as are these realities, even more frightening is the extent to which Obama yearns still to dislodge America from its foundation as a nation unique in placing individual liberty at the pinnacle of political power. His clear objective is to transform us into a society in which government mandates control virtually every aspect of citizens’ lives.

Obama’s latest plan is to transform the “right” to vote into the “requirement” to vote.

During a speech last week to the City Club of Cleveland, Obama declared himself a fan of mandatory voting. The President deflated America to other countries that are practitioners of forced voting. He opined, for example, that in Australia (a country that remains part of the British Commonwealth), citizens are required to vote; and concluded that instituting a similar mandate here would be “transformative.” He is right. Taking away peoples’ right to decide whether to vote in a particular election, and forcing them under penalty of law to vote, would be “transformative”; but certainly not in a good sense.


The world thus envisioned by Barack Obama would be a country in which everyone has a right to health care, to a college education, to a job, and to everything else the benevolent government decides the people should have; everything, that is, except the right to decide whether to vote. Obama noted favorably that the result of mandated voting would be to increase voting by the core constituencies of the Democratic Party; though the Voter-in-Chief paid lip service to the broader goal of increasing the overall percentage of voters who actually vote (which is low).

Voting in this Bizarro World would become simply another burden of being a citizen; right up there with paying taxes or carrying government-defined health insurance.

Some observers – many, perhaps -- might be inclined to shrug off these latest musings of Barack Obama as simply “food for thought” offered by a president in the last two years of a second term. What gives them real currency, and why we ought to be extremely concerned about them, is the propensity already demonstrated by this President for doing what he wants via executive orders, whenever the Congress or the American people fail to give him what he wants through lawful and constitutional process. In this same mold, Attorney General Eric Holder misses no opportunity to attack efforts by state legislatures to protect their voting procedures against fraud by ensuring that only lawful citizens vote.


At the end of the day, there are innumerable ways this Administration could try to link federal benefits to voting, either directly or indirectly.

As a child, I lived in many other cultures and countries, including some in which voting was a requirement enforced by military force. This had the effect of driving up the percentage of people “voting” to laudable heights – but at the same time, driving down individual freedom to depressing depths. However, so long as those advocating for such forced measure can remain in charge – and they usually can in such a system – for them, it is a desirable arrangement. For the rest of us, not so much.


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