metsfanmax wrote:Suppose you turned the argument on its head. Why is it that the act of voting itself recognizes the legitimacy of U.S. government authority? I could in principle reject their authority over me, but nevertheless use the vote that has been granted to me by their laws, because I pragmatically recognize that certain leaders will be better for me than others, even if I do not recognize their authority to rule over me. So I do not think that the act of voting presupposes any claims of legitimacy of the government. It's just the realization of the fact that for better or worse, there is a state operating in this geographical area, and they interact with me even if I do not want to interact with them.
Maybe. That's contrary to the scientific consensus that voting is an irrational act.
Funkyterrance wrote:If Hitler were still alive and he and one of the presidential elects were running against each other you can bet your ass that people would go out and vote. Oh, that is except for saxi and patches.
If society has evolved to a point that Hitler stands a good chance of being elected, it won't matter. If Hitler is able to command 49% popular support, the formality of an election is not going to be an obstacle that keeps him from office. An election is only relevant if people recognize its authority.
In Tennessee in the 1820s the Governor and Legislature were tired of the Tennessee Supreme Court striking down their laws. So they organized their own Supreme Court and started ignoring the old one. The old court continued meeting and issuing rulings but the Governor and Legislature pretended it didn't exist and started bringing cases to the new court. The fact the old court was the legally constituted court was irrelevant if everyone simply ignored it.
This is one of the few cases in which, if you ignore something, it actually does go away. If enough people ignore the government, the government eventually just ... stops. Even people who advocate for compulsory voting are very clear about the reasons they want it - "Voting confers legitimacy ... as more and more people choose to abstain, elected officials rule with less and less consent."
AndyDufresne wrote:Anyone have the numbers of popular vote going back in the early 1900s, and the percentage of total population the turnout amounted to? It'd be interesting to see a whole chart and look at any trends.
Until 1960 here - http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html
It was at a high of 63% in 1960, hit a low in 1996 when it dropped below 50%, and crawled back up to 57% in 2008 when you had two novelty candidates on the ballot (Obama and Palin).
This is a more dramatic gap when one considers that, in 1960, you had a 10-hour window to vote. Now most states give you a week or more to vote and some, like Washington and Oregon, just mail you a ballot automatically, folded in between the Valu-Save coupon pack and offers for discount insurance from Geico.