Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Voters -- Democracy's Necessary Idiots

One of the enduring themes of Senator Ron Johnson's time in office has been a flagrant contempt for voters, which was once again on display during a talk at the US Chamber of Commerce this week:
Johnson stressed that he did not want to malign participatory democracy, but that the outcome reflected the influence of disengaged voters. 
“How can Wisconsin have Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin? This is actually very simple. It’s math. In my election, which was an off-year election, there were 2.2 million voters. In the Scott Walker recall, which in Wisconsin was a really big thing. That was a really big deal. Everybody knew about it. There were about 2.5 million voters. Another 300,000 people came out to the polls to reelect Scott Walker. In the presidential election, there were 3 million voters.” 
This is where Johnson makes his big pitch: “I would argue that if you’re not involved enough in the process to come out and vote in the Scott Walker recall, how informed are you really? On what basis are you casting your vote?”
There are all kinds of silliness in that statement. One could just as easily say that since Johnson was elected in an election with only 52% voter turnout -- compared to the 72% that came out to elect Tammy Baldwin -- that his legitimacy in the Senate is diminished. It's all a matter of perspective. 

Of course Johnson should also take issue with the 42,800 more people who voted for Tommy Thompson in 2012 than voted for Scott Walker in 2011. Presumably, they weren't "engaged enough in the process" to cast their ballots on a whatever basis Johnson thinks is legitimate.