The day before the Supreme Court ruled ObamaCare's individual mandate constitutional -- as a tax, not as an exercise of the commerce clause -- the mostly-liberal panel at the brand-new 3 p.m. program The Cycle explored the question of what, in the view of the panelists, that government should consider making Americans do against their will.
For her part, panelist Krystal Ball insisted that America should be more like Australia, which forces its citizens to vote in it federal elections or else to pay a fine. Unsurprisingly, Ball's fellow liberal panelists Toure Neblett, and Steve Kornacki were sympathetic to the proposal, with only conservative panelist S.E. Cupp denouncing it as antithetical to the notion of political liberty.
Ball, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2010 in a safely Republican district, stated that such a measure would mitigate the influence of money in politics and lead to a more "representative democracy." Furthermore, Ball stated that the absence of money in our elections would decrease grassroots operations aimed at suppressing the vote.
Salon.com's Steve Kornacki agreed stating that it will lessen the nasty side of campaigning which seeks to turn out voters who are favorable to your side while discouraging voters favorable to your opponent. Toure, the inimitable 9/11 truther, also agreed and said that Election Day should be a national holiday and that voter registration should be mandatory as well.
Cupp was the only voice of reason stating that apathy isn't nor should be a crime. Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg agreed. In response to former Obama budget director Peter Orszag, who holds the same position, Goldberg wrote in the National Review on June 27 that:
One of the chief benefits of coerced voting, according to Orszag, is that it increases participation. Well, yes, and kidnapping drunks in pubs increased the ranks of the British navy, but it didn’t turn the conscripted sailors into patriots.
There was also an inane notion that a lottery and cash prize for people to incentivize them to vote was a free market initiative.
Goldberg slams this and the utopian mindset that this mandatory voter participation would create a more "representative democracy." In fact, as Goldberg states, "... fining people, say $15, if they don’t vote and using the proceeds to set up a lottery to bribe reluctant voters. If the old line that lotteries are taxes on stupid people is correct, then the upshot of this proposal is that the cure to what ails democracy is an influx of large numbers of stupid voters."
Sorry Krystal, but incentivizing people to vote with the carrot of a lottery and the stick of a fine doesn't make it a free-market initiative, because free markets by definition are marked by freely-contracted exchange, not government coercion and subsidy.