Kerry Howley defends non-voters:
For all the pro-vote haranguing, and the contempt shown toward those who expend their energy elsewhere, it seems worth noting that there are competing, worthy demands on our time. It’s true that the moment we turn our backs, the world, as Alicia Keys says, may burn. But among the many privileges of life in a stable democracy is the knowledge that it probably won’t.
Matt Steinglass counters:
I don’t think Ms Howley is intentionally trying to discourage other people from voting. Rather, I think she’s trying to stop people who do believe it’s important to pay attention to politics and to vote, such as myself, from making people who don’t vote feel guilty about it. Well, people who choose not to pay attention to what is happening around them or to engage in the public deliberative process in even a minimal fashion should in fact feel guilty about it. I don’t think you should be punished for it, but you should certainly feel guilty about it. It’s true that there are many competing demands on our time, and we already don’t get around to half the things we’re expected to do. I haven’t done an adequate job of planning for my retirement, for example, which will no doubt inconvenience not just me but my relatives and my community; and I feel guilty about that. I plan to do better this year. If you don’t pay attention to politics this year and don’t vote, then that should be one of the things you feel guilty about, and you should plan to fix it the next time elections come around.