George Will Can Hardly Contain His Contempt for Americans

George Will is very uncomfortable with the idea of automatic voter registration or even the idea of more people voting, and here he is explaining why.

Because the likelihood of any individual’s vote mattering is infinitesimal and because the effort required to be an informed voter can be substantial, ignorance and abstention are rational, unless voting is cathartic or otherwise satisfying. A small voting requirement such as registration, which calls for the individual voter’s initiative, acts to filter potential voters with the weakest motivations. They are apt to invest minimal effort in civic competence. As indifferent or reluctant voters are nagged to the polls — or someday prodded there by a monetary penalty for nonvoting — the caliber of the electorate must decline.

Which group of Americans are disproportionately effected by making it more difficult to register and more difficult to vote? Minorities.

According to Will, these people have the "weakest motivations" and are only willing to invest "minimal effort in civic competence." And if we register all of them to vote, the "caliber of the electorate must decline."

As someone who lived in an overwhelmingly-white red state for 27 years that, on the best of days, may see registered-voter turnout of 20 percent, I can tell you that the caliber of the electorate can only improve. It can't get any worse. And those with the "weakest motivations" are already voting in droves. They're white, they're registered, and they're voting because socialism!

Of course what specific motivations Will has in mind aren't clear, but I think it's safe to assume he's implying that too many voters would feel compelled to vote for more free stuff and hand-outs if we automatically register them. He believes we should make it as hard as possible to vote for your own self-interest and that it's better to have a milquetoast electorate that, almost categorically, votes against their own self-interest.

In his mind, such people aren't of a high enough "caliber" and have no business voting.

I can't discern if Will is glossing over his own racism with this call for a master race electorate, or if he simply abhors poor people. Not that one is necessarily better than the other.

  • IrishGrrrl

    You misspelled socialism—it’s soshulism. You’re welcome.

  • mzmijewski

    It is hard to believe that someone this stupid could be an atheist. I am going to have to find another non-religion.

  • muselet

    I’ve seen little evidence that George Will is a racist. However, he definitely is—to use a word much overused, and misused, by the Right—an elitist. His ideal democracy would share the slogan of the old Brooklands Automobile Racing Club: “The Right Crowd and No Crowding.”

    The other thing George Will definitely is, is a perennial favorite for Upper Class Twit of the Year.


    • D_C_Wilson

      But I thought democrats were the elitists, what with their fancy edjumacation and knowing things?

  • D_C_Wilson

    I suppose this is someone whom Will would think has the proper “caliber” to be a voter:

    After all, he watches Fox and listens to the radio.

  • Bob Rutledge

    Unfortunately, Viscount Will is only expressing the predominant intent of the Framers of the Constitution:*

    The delegates also feared pure democracy and considered it to be the placement of the government directly in the hands of the “rabble.” Many elements of the Constitution were thus engineered to ensure that only the “best men” would run the country.

    Under the original Constitution, senators were to be appointed by state legislatures or governors, not elected by the people—in fact, this rule did not change until the Seventeenth Amendment (1913) established direct elections for senators. Although representatives in the House were elected directly by the people, their terms were set at only two years, compared to senators’ six years. In addition, even though new legislation could be introduced only in the House, the Senate had to approve and ratify any bills before they could become law.

    These checks on pure democracy were not confined to the legislative branch. The Electoral College was implemented to ensure that the uneducated masses didn’t elect someone “unfit” for the presidencySparknotes: The Constitution

    *there may or may not be sarcasm and/or disdain in that statement

    • D_C_Wilson

      Yeah, their original plan for the Electoral College was so good at making sure the “right men” got elected president that they realized they had to change it by their fourth presidential election.

      They nearly ended up with Aaron Burr as president.

    • IrishGrrrl

      You are correct, the FF’s were snobby but remember they saw the capricious violence of the popular revolt in France and were seriously afraid that could happen here. They knew, being powerful, landed (and often wealthy) men they would end up with their necks on the chopping blocks in such a case. They also knew that dictators often started as very popular figures so they wanted to protect from that as well. Their views were the views of most white males in Western countries at that time, including the poor white males. There was such as thing as a “man knowing his place” and societal rank was much, much more ingrained in people than now. Indeed if you or I could go back in time, I think we would be very shocked and quite out of sorts with all the overt and subtle but pervasive aspects of social standing and prejudices of that time.

      Also, they did not and could not envision a country where the majority of people were expected to have completed at least 12 years of education, or where women would actually be educated and able to vote, or the growth of such a large middle class, etc. I forgive their snobbery because they were not timeless gods but men very much shaped by their own erudition and their historical context.

      George Will has no such excuse for his elitism.

  • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

    How dare those damn silly people want a representative democracy!

  • Ivan After 5

    Personally, I can’t contain my contempt for George Will…nor do I care to.

  • trgahan

    Really George?

    Almost half the nation believed a guy who made a fortunetly destroying American businesses and stashing the cash overseas would make a better executive than our current secret Muslim, Commie-Nazi tryant who’s done such horrible things like try to make healthcare more affordable, end our foriegn wars, stimulate the economy, and invest in green sustainable energy.

    Informed electorate indeed. You lost, get over it!

    • D_C_Wilson

      In fairness, that wasn’t half the nation, just half of the people who bothered to vote.

      And these are the people that Will thinks will be diluted by inferior voters.

  • bphoon

    They are apt to invest minimal effort in civic competence.

    Seems to me an eight-hour wait on line to vote is a fairly hefty investment in civic competence.

    George Will, douchebag.

  • gescove

    It bears repeating: George Will is an insufferable pompous ass. Reading the ingredients on my cereal box is far more informative than his nattering.