People of my generation- apparently we are "millenials," but no one asked me- are constantly being scolded for not voting in sufficient numbers. Last week , I tackled the issue of voting, and how I don't think it necessarily makes a republican society better off.
As citizens, we all have a stake in the outcomes of political and policy questions, and it is assumed that in order to affect these, we should take part in the political process. It is precisely because this process is so important, however, that the country would be far better off if a great many people simply did not vote.
To the likes of Rock the Vote, the William & Mary Student Assembly, and perhaps some on Ricochet, the above is heresy of the worst kind. It makes me an elitist, Hamiltonian scumbag of the worst kind. The problem with the "more people should vote because they have a stake in the system" crowd is that they assume that more voters equals more democracy, which is simply not the case.
The problem with the view that society will be freer if everyone votes is that it puts everything important about voting- the motivations behind how to vote- into a black box. It ascribes all political significance to the output, i.e. the vote, and erroneously ignores the contents of its fabricated box. It subscribes to this weird notion that voters necessarily care about pesky things like policy positions and personal character.
The problem is that many people vote based on irrelevancies: speaking ability, hopeychanginess, and that the candidate took time out of his busy schedule to visit your church, which is full of registered voters. They aren't really voting based on any coherent set of interests. I don't think anyone would disagree that society would be better off if many would stay home on Election Day. People who don't really care about politics shouldn't feel any pressure to join in.
In the abstract, I agree that given certain assumptions, everyone should care about politics, and that everyone should vote. The trouble is that these assumptions- that people know the issues and have some reason for thinking a particular candidate's victory serves their interests- so seldom apply. Winston Churchill is often quoted as saying that the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter. I much prefer his caution that democracy is the worst form of government except for every other form of government. I for one will take an imperfect electorate over big government authoritarianism any day. Voters, at least can be educated.