This election day, Ilya Somin reminds us why many people really should stay home, and why the rest of us should consider not voting on down-ticket races and issues unless we know what we’re doing:
As political philosopher Jason Brennan argues, voters have a moral duty to be at least reasonably well-informed about the issues they vote on, because the decisions they make affect not just themselves but all of society. John Stuart Mill put it well when he wrote that voting is not just an exercise of personal choice, but rather “the exercise of power over others.” If you can’t exercise that power in at least a minimally responsible manner, maybe you should not do so at all.
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[T]he evidence strongly suggests that most people’s political views are only weakly correlated to their self-interest. When voters support bad policies, it is usually out of ignorance rather than selfishness.
I agree. Instead of passing out “I Voted” stickers on election day, maybe we should pass out “I read a non-fiction book” or “I visited a thoughtful political blog today” stickers on the other days. Somehow we ought to convey the message that our civic duty requires something more than Googling “who is running for president” on Super Tuesday.