Thursday, November 12, 2015

Cruising the Web

David Harsanyi bemoans the deterioration of the First Amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;Unless we’re talking about a white chocolate-paneled cake for a gay wedding or perpetual funding for ‘women’s health’ clinics, because it’s the ‘right thing to do.’

Or abridging the freedom of speech; unless that speech is used by boorish climate change denialists to peddle dirty fossil fuels and run capitalistic death machines that wreck the Earth; by anyone engaging in upsetting hate speech or other forms of ‘aggression;’ by a wealthy person supporting candidates who undermine ‘progress;’ by a pro-life protestor who makes people feel uncomfortable about their life decisions; by a cisnormative white male who displays insufficient appreciation for the “systematic oppression” that minorities experience in places of higher learning; or by anyone who has a desire to undermine the state-protected union monopolies that help fund political parties. And so on.

Or of the press; unless the press invades safe spaces designated by mobs or writes about incorrect topics at incorrect times.

And to petition the Government for a redress of grievances; unless they are members of pre-designated special interests groups, they should report to the IRS before doing so.

That’s pretty much the state of the First Amendment today. Climate change. Abortion. Gay marriage. Race. Taxes. What have you. Even in mainstream political debate, these interests outweigh your piddling concerns about the First Amendment. So the notion that a bunch of students and leftist professors would agitate to shut down free expression in a public space in Missouri because they feel their special issue trumps your antiquated list of rules is not particularly surprising.

Now, we shouldn’t overstate the problem. Most of us are able to freely engage in arguments and express ourselves without worrying about the state interfering. This will not end tomorrow. But it is difficult to ignore how creeping illiberalism has infected our discourse, and how not many people seem to care. (Links in the original)
There is a reason why the First Amendment is the first one. These were the rights that Madison and the Framers considered essential to preserving our liberties from an overreaching federal government. The Supreme Court has extended those rights to the states because justices of varying ideologies considered fundamental to preserving life, liberty, and property. And yet today, based on ideological and political beliefs, there are more and more people who think such concerns are outdated. As Harsanyi points out, there was no pushback at Missouri or Yale against those who protesting thought crimes. In fact the campus police got involved to ask students to warn about "incidents or hateful and/or hurtful speech." But beware. If they can come for the climate deniers or an incorporated interest group, they can come for anyone else. Who knows what perfectly ordinary expression of opinion will go next on the list? We already have a distressing number of college students who look for a limit on speech that they find offensive.
To put some numbers behind that perception, The William F. Buckley Jr. Program at Yale recently commissioned a survey from McLaughlin & Associates about attitudes towards free speech on campus. Some 800 students at a variety of colleges across the country were surveyed. The results, though not surprising, are nevertheless alarming. By a margin of 51 percent to 36 percent, students favor their school having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty. Sixty-three percent favor requiring professors to employ “trigger warnings” to alert students to material that might be discomfiting. One-third of the students polled could not identify the First Amendment as the part of the Constitution that dealt with free speech. Thirty-five percent said that the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech,” while 30 percent of self-identified liberal students say the First Amendment is outdated. With the assault on free speech and the First Amendment proceeding apace in institutions once dedicated to robust intellectual debate, it is no wonder that there are more and more calls to criminalize speech that dissents from the party line on any number of issues, from climate change to race relations, to feminism and sex.
As Jonah Goldberg writes, students today are just too fragile.
Taco bars at sorority fundraisers are considered offensive. A group at Duke University deemed phrases such as “man up” too horrible to tolerate. And so on.

The suggestion that the tempest at Yale is an isolated incident reminds me of my favorite line from Thoreau: “Some circumstantial evidence is very strong, as when you find a trout in the milk.”

So what is going on?

Well, a lot. Many conservatives want to put all the blame on political correctness or cultural Marxism. And though I think such ideologies certainly belong in the dock, political correctness is now quite old.

Lamentations about it were commonplace when I was in college 25 years ago. Does anyone, other than a few campus hotheads, actually believe universities are more intolerant, bigoted, and racist than they were a generation ago?

What has changed are the students. Yes, there has been a lot of ideological indoctrination in which kids are taught that taking offense gives them power. But, again, that idea is old. What’s new is the way kids are being raised.

Consider play. Children are hardwired to play. That’s how we learn. But what happens when play is micro-managed? St. Lawrence University professor Steven Horwitz argues that it undermines democracy.

Free play — tag in the schoolyard, pickup basketball at the park, etc. — is a very complicated thing. It requires young people to negotiate rules among themselves, without the benefit of some third-party authority figure. These skills are hugely important in life. When parents or teachers short-circuit that process by constantly intervening to stop bullying or just to make sure that everyone plays nice, Horwitz argues, “we are taking away a key piece of what makes it possible for free people to be peaceful, cooperative people by devising bottom-up solutions to a variety of conflicts.”

The rise in “helicopter parenting” and the epidemic of “everyone gets a trophy” education are another facet of the same problem. We’re raising millions of kids to be smart and kind, but also fragile.

And what happens when large numbers of these delicate little flowers are set free to navigate their way through life? They feel unsafe and demand “safe spaces.” They feel threatened by uncomfortable ideas and demand “trigger warnings.” They might even want written rules or contracts to help them negotiate sexual relations.

In other words, this is the generation the mandarins of political correctness have been waiting for.

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Hillary Clinton criticized charter schools in a recent speech even though she used to support them. I guess running for president necessitates flipping in order to get union support.
“Most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them. And so the public schools are often in a no-win situation,” Mrs. Clinton said last weekend in South Carolina. She also acknowledged that “for many years now” she has “supported the idea of charter schools,” though “not as a substitute for the public schools.”

Well, as Mrs. Clinton used to appreciate, charter schools are public schools—albeit freed from bureaucracy and union work rules. In her 1996 memoir, “It Takes a Village,” she wrote that “I favor promoting choice among public schools, much as the President’s Charter Schools Initiative encourages.” In 2007 she told a teachers-union conference in New York that “I actually do believe in charter schools.”

Why the sudden change? Her press assistant explained to Politico that “Hillary Clinton looks at the evidence. That’s what she did here.” Sorry, that quote is from Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.6 million-member American Federation of Teachers that endorsed Mrs. Clinton in July, 16 months before Election Day. The National Education Association followed. Unions loathe charter competition, and Mrs. Clinton is returning the favor of these early endorsements.

If Mrs. Clinton had looked at the evidence, she’d have seen a different story about charters and “the hardest-to-teach kids.” Charters don’t exclude difficult students. Like other public schools, they aren’t allowed to discriminate. Nearly every state requires a random lottery to choose students if there are more applicants than openings. The reason some charters turn away students is that they lack the resources to accommodate every desperate family trapped in a teachers-union compound.

Charters serve some of the most troubled students, including a higher percentage in poverty than all public schools, according to Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes. In urban centers in particular, charters serve mostly minority students and include more who are learning English than do public schools as a whole.

Mrs. Clinton knows these basic facts, so she may be tapping into the recent political melodrama over New York City’s Success Academy charter schools. Founder Eva Moskowitz runs tight ships, and students who misbehave can expect the once typical response called discipline. Ms. Weingarten has been running a political and media campaign against Success Academy, though its attrition levels are lower than district averages in the Big Apple. If you want to see public schools that really don’t tolerate disruptive students, go to your average rich suburban school.

Mrs. Clinton’s charter reversal suggests her Education Department would be a wholly owned union subsidiary. The losers will be the poor parents and children who Democrats claim to represent.

Bobby Jindal and Louisiana scored a nice victory over the Obama Justice Department.
The Justice Department suffered a setback Tuesday when the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in effect ruled that the feds don't have the authority to regulate Louisiana's school voucher program.

In a 2-1 decision written by Judge Edith Jones, the appeals court says a district court had no jurisdiction to let DOJ collect data and monitor the voucher program.

The fight between federal officials and Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal started in 2013 when then-Attorney General Eric Holder tried to halt the program out of concern that it was upsetting the racial balance of some public school districts. The case is based on a decades-old decision that said the state couldn't give money to private schools that segregate students.

Holder later abandoned that effort, instead asking for data on the racial background of students participating in the program each year so federal officials could monitor the program's effect on school segregation. DOJ could then use that information to challenge some voucher awards.

In April 2014, a federal judge ruled in DOJ's favor. But critics said the data collection and monitoring would allow federal officials to limit enrollment. The Louisiana Black Alliance for Educational Options took the district court's decision to the Fifth Circuit, which ruled against the DOJ today.

"This court may not speculate why DOJ chose to avoid the path of litigation to prove a violation and thereafter enforce a remedy against the state and its school children," Jones writes. "DOJ chose an unauthorized means to accomplish the same result."
Obama and Holder's DOJ exceeding their authority? How many times have we seen that?

Jeb Bush demonstrates some more of his lack of political insights by having an announcement about Bob Dole's endorsement of his candidacy. Who does he think will be swayed to support Bush because Dole, a man not all that popular in the party, endorses him? One of Jeb's biggest weaknesses is that he seems like a candidate of the past. So how will reaching back to the GOP candidate who bridged his father's and brother's campaigns help him seem like the candidate of the future?

So will it matter that Donald Trump, a man who brags about his billions, told Americans in the debate that he thinks wages are too high? Does anything pierce through the unreasoning popularity of this man? Josh Kraushaar writes at the National Journal,
One of the most over­looked mo­ments in Tues­day night’s Re­pub­lic­an de­bate came at the very be­gin­ning. Don­ald Trump, asked wheth­er he’d sup­port a hike in the min­im­um wage, in­stead di­gressed in­to say­ing, “Wages [are] too high,” in mak­ing the case for cor­por­ate com­pet­it­ive­ness. And he re­peated the same keep-wages-low talk­ing point Wed­nes­day morn­ing on Morn­ing Joe, ap­par­ently not re­cog­niz­ing the po­ten­tial back­lash he cre­ated. Even though he was an­swer­ing a ques­tion about the min­im­um wage, his re­marks (in both cases) soun­ded like he was talk­ing broadly about the eco­nomy.

Trump, for those not pay­ing at­ten­tion, has been ad­van­cing a cam­paign mes­sage that he’s a trait­or to his class. One of his most ef­fect­ive lines is that he knows that politi­cians are con­trolled by wealthy donors be­cause he was once one of those wealthy donors. He sup­ports tax hikes on the most wealthy and ar­gues, “The hedge fund guys have been get­ting away with murder.” He has been an out­spoken crit­ic of free-trade deals and prom­ises to act tough­er with China (on “steal­ing” Amer­ic­an jobs) and Mex­ico (over im­mig­ra­tion), fur­ther es­tab­lish­ing his pop­u­list bona fides. His cent­ral ap­peal is that he’s prom­ising to bring the skills that made him wealthy to en­rich the broad­er pub­lic.

Which is why Trump’s flub could be so con­sequen­tial. Trump’s polit­ic­al base is dom­in­ated by work­ing-class voters who have been dev­ast­ated by the re­ces­sion and sub­sequent slow re­cov­ery. Many of them are drawn to Trump be­cause they be­lieve his tough per­sona and ne­go­ti­at­ing prowess will re­verse Amer­ica’s eco­nom­ic de­cline—and with it, raise their own wages. Trump is run­ning against the Wall Street wing of the Re­pub­lic­an Party, but with his af­fin­ity for low cor­por­ate wages, he pit­ted him­self against many of the pop­u­lists he’s woo­ing.

“If you find some­body who can move the Trump im­age, from bil­lion­aire mogul with swag­ger and morph him in­to a heart­less CEO jerk, this is a dif­fer­ent race,” said Re­pub­lic­an me­dia con­sult­ant Rick Wilson. “But are his voters go­ing to be more re­cept­ive to his ar­gu­ment on im­mig­ra­tion than they are on wages. That’s the big ques­tion.” Somehow, I don't think that people want to hear a billionaire tell them that their wages are too high.

It’s very pos­sible that, like many oth­er Trump com­ments that are ini­tially seen as dam­aging gaffes, this latest off-mes­sage com­ment will do him little dam­age. Re­cent polls have shown Trump’s sup­port­ers as more loy­al to their can­did­ate than those of oth­er can­did­ates. But what makes this line dif­fer­ent is it goes against his own sup­port­ers’ in­terests. They may not care if Trump is rude to Me­gyn Kelly, or mocks John Mc­Cain’s mil­it­ary ser­vice, but when his com­ments dir­ectly im­pact their own bot­tom line, the re­ac­tion could be dif­fer­ent.
From his keyboard to God's ears.

The statement that fact-checkers rushed to check from Tuesday's debate was Rubio in his discussion of how we need more welders than philosophers. They jumped into searching out comparative statistics on how much welders earn compared to philosophy professors. But these green eye-shaders missed the point and seemed to be making some erroneous assumptions by just doing a salary to salary comparison. T. Becket Adams comments,
This problem with these fact-checks, however, is that they assume philosophy majors go on to become well paid philosophy professors, and that employment in this field is a cinch. This is not necessarily the case.

The unemployment rate for recent college graduates majoring in religious and philosophy studies is 9.5 percent, according to the same Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce data cited by the AP.

For "experienced college graduates," the unemployment rate is 7.3 percent, the study found. Both rates are higher than the current nationwide unemployment rate of 5.0 percent.

And contrary to what AP reported, the median income for people with an advanced degree in philosophy or religious studies isn't $68,000; it's $62,000, according to Georgetown University's data. The class of philosophy major referenced by Rubio, the recent college graduate, can expect to pull in a median income of only $29,000 if he or she can find work.

"What Rubio was saying was obvious: you will have a better chance at a decent paying job in welding than you will as a professional philosopher. That's because there are nearly one million jobs related to welding and machinery, and just about 23,000 jobs related to teaching philosophy," wrote conservative commentator Ben Shapiro. "Median wage is therefore an idiotic measure of the relative success of 'philosophers' versus 'welders.'"

"Using median wage as the basis for comparison would be similar to saying that you're better off as a basketball player than a welder in America — it's true if you make the NBA, but it's not true if you're one of the hundreds of thousands of unemployed people in the United States who play basketball," he added. "It's the equivalent of stating that you're better off as a star actor than a welder — true as far as it goes, but it doesn't go very far."

For some in media, these figures and statistics are beside the point. The fact-checkers, they say, are missing the bigger picture.

"So I think analyzing the salaries of philosophy majors (or actual philosophers) might be kind of missing Rubio's point?" Bloomberg BNA's Alex Parker said. "And Rubio's point about vocational training — never mind the harmless liberal arts bashing — is sort of right, isn't it?"

....Rubio revisited his point Wednesday, telling a crowd in Iowa, "I said it last night, a welder makes a lot more than a philosopher, and it's a lot easier to find a job. There are a lot more openings for welders than philosophers in America today."

He added jokingly at a later event, "I am not going to win the philosophy vote in America. I'm going to find another major to pick on here soon."
Shapiro also comments,
How about using philosophy majors as a proxy for welding? That’s also an inaccurate gauge, because the vast majority of philosophy majors don’t get jobs in philosophy. Saying that you’re better off as a “philosopher” when you don’t practice philosophy is like saying you’re better off as an art history or drama major than a welder – which, according to those same statistics, is true! That neglects the fact that virtually everyone who majors in art history or drama will get a job in some other profession.

So, no, Marco Rubio wasn’t wrong. His critics are just statistical illiterates out to get Republicans.

As someone with a Master's degree in Slavic languages and literature, I'm not in any place to criticize someone from pursuing a subject that interests them. But I soon found out that there weren't any jobs in my major in the location I ended up living when my husband got a job in Raleigh, NC. So I adjusted and found another career that I have grown to love in which I use very little from that Master's degree. I've come to wish that I had been more thoughtful about employment considerations as I chose a major rather than blithely assuming that the important thing was to study something I enjoy and trust that the jobs would appear. I've come to learn that it is perfectly possible to pursue subjects that I enjoy even if it is not what I get paid to do. So someone pursuing a major in philosophy should think about employment possibilities with that major and consider if philosophy might not be better as an avocation and consider a double-major with some subject that would him or her more employable. And I think Marco Rubio is absolutely correct to point out that not everyone needs to be a college graduate. There are plenty of professions out there that earn very good salaries. And I think we do a disservice to young people to make them think that everyone needs to go to college in order to make a decent living. They then pile up huge debts while they have hard times finding jobs and often end up with jobs that don't need a college degree but we've had such an inflation of degrees that too many jobs demand college degrees even if the degree only serves as a marker of skills like being able to finish tasks on time.

One of the odder notes in the debate was when both Trump and Fiorina bragged about having met Vladimir Putin as if some short meeting would demonstrate a stronger ability to deal with him. Well, Barack Obama has met Putin more than either of them and that hasn't helped him to handle Putin. Now it turns out that they both misled the public about their meetings with Putin.
Republican front-runner Donald Trump claimed during Tuesday's GOP debate that he met Vladimir Putin during a taping of "60 Minutes," and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina claimed she also met the Russian president, but "not in a green room for a show."

However, Trump didn't actually meet Putin during the taping of a recent "60 Minutes" interview, and despite her claim Tuesday night, Fiorina appears to have met the Russian President in a "green room-type setting."

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Ashe Schow expresses a lot of what I think about Ben Carson. She admires him tremendously, but is puzzled by his appeal as a presidential candidate.
But as Dr. Carson's political star rose, I became dismayed by what I heard from him on national TV and in the press: using slavery as a means to discuss abortion and Obamacare, suggesting prison rape proves homosexuality is a choice and the recent claim that the pyramids were built to store grain, to name but a few examples of his ridiculous statements.

Each time he says something like this, I groan, and force myself to remember what drew me to him in the first place. He was still one of the world's best neurosurgeons.

And with each debate, I wonder more and more why Dr. Carson is still crushing the polls — and on an upward trajectory, no less. When I consider for my post-debate write-ups where each candidate did well and where each did poorly, I always struggle to find something positive to write about Dr. Carson.

He has no energy or charisma on stage, aside from the stray humorous remark (in the first debate he talked about his work as a brain surgeon, saying: "I'm the only one to take out half of a brain, although you would think if you went to Washington that someone had beat me to it"). His answers are incoherent and rambling, and they evince a stunning ignorance of policy, especially on economic and foreign affairs.

Take Tuesday night's debate, for instance, when Dr. Carson was asked about the Middle East. He began his response by discussing special ops troops in Syria, then suggested China is in Syria (it's not), then talked about making jihadists "look like losers" before finally discussing an "energy field" in Iraq.

But clearly I am missing something, because his answer (well, at least the last line about destroying "them" before they destroy us) elicited a hearty applause. And after every debate where I think he performed poorly, he continues to rise in the polls (with the notable exception of the second debate, after which his numbers dipped, though he remained in second place).

I get the outsider appeal, and the fact that Dr. Carson would be able to argue against Obamacare while opposing the Democratic candidate, but I don't understand supporting a candidate who performs so poorly in front of a microphone. Carson spoke the least on Tuesday, and it's clear why: He didn't have anything to add to the conversation. Economic policy is not his strong suit.

I must be missing something. I've been in D.C. for only four years, have I become too cynical and entrenched? Maybe it's a personal thing, seeing a former hero in an unpleasant light. Whatever the reason, I'm down on Dr. Carson and I simply don't get why he's at the top of the polls.

Roger Kimball argues that the GOP race has come down to Cruz or Rubio even though neither of them is at the top of the polls. Timothy Carney argues the same proposition.

Meanwhile, Jeff Greenfield explains how Ted Cruz is so successful in debates.
Look at his performance—and that’s the right word—at Tuesday night’s debate. Every answer was shaped by the underlying premises of his campaign: that he is the one candidate fighting the deeply corrupt political system, in which both parties cater to the financial and cultural elite, abandon traditional values, weaken our economic and moral fiber, as well as our security. No matter what the question, Cruz’s answers will hit several of these themes.
Greenfield then goes on to give some examples from the debate of how Cruz makes that pivot.
It’s true, of course, that debating skills only take you so far; but it also is true that it can be a pretty fair distance. Four years ago, Newt Gingrich became a serious competitor, despite enough baggage to overload a FedEx plane, by outperforming his rivals on the debate stage. (I described his skills in these pages four years ago.)

What Cruz is demonstrating, as Gingrich did, is the ability to weave any answer to an topic into a broader argument that resonates with the Tea Party and evangelical wings of the Republican Party, and that embodies the sense of resentment and disaffection that has propelled Donald Trump into a status almost no political observer imagined. It is of a piece with his fundamental campaign approach, that fuses highly specific, almost wonky-sounding policy points and broader populist themes that resonate with even the most policy-averse corners of the Republican electorate.

This is no guarantee that he will wind up as the GOP nominee, or that if he does, he will find a ready audience in the broader electorate. There are plenty of grounds to see in Cruz a very skillful demagogue, and there are plenty of debates left where a rival might find the weaknesses in his argument, just as Mitt Romney unhorsed Gingrich just before the key Florida primary in 2012.

But here’s a bit of advice to those who would find a Cruz nomination or presidency a disaster: The single biggest mistake that is made in politics is to underestimate an adversary.

Ross Douthat notices what several other people have remarked on - that Ted Cruz telegraphed his future attacks on Marco Rubio, for example by criticizing the sugar subsidies that Rubio has supported, but still did not attack Rubio directly. Most probably, Cruz has decided that there is no benefit to taking on his fellow candidates more directly at this point. His strategy is to wait until Trump and Carson fade, hopefully sooner rather than later, and then go after Rubio. It may work since Rubio does have weaknesses on which he can be attacked from the right.
And with Cruz and Paul taking more of the limelight from Trump and Carson and Jeb last night, Rubio’s weaknesses were a little more visible. His domestic agenda is worlds more plausible than the polling leaders and his debating fluency is worlds above Jeb’s, but it’s hard for him to win a “whose policies are most conservative” contest against his fellow senators, because many of his policy proposals are clearly better-engineered for a general election than for a primary-season fight, and the most traditionally right-wing thing he’s offering are massively deficit-financed tax cuts, which he has to be careful bragging about. (I’ll cut everyone’s taxes is a solid primary season pitch, but my tax cuts are more deficit-financed than yours is a trickier sell.) For now, he’s smoothly returning to speech material in all his answers, and that’s working well. But he won’t be allowed to do that indefinitely; at some point Cruz will try to hold his feet to the fire, and then we’ll have a better sense of whether Rubio really deserves the “effective frontrunner” status so many of us have imputed to him.

I think he deserves it in part because my basic skepticism about Cruz is deep and enduring, and one of its pillars is my assumption that fewer Republican voters actually care about ideological correctness (as opposed to electability, fluency, personal identification, charisma, etc.) than many party-watchers tend to assume. They care about particular issues, sometimes passionately, which is why Rubio’s immigration baggage clearly matters, and the fastest way to lose a G.O.P. nomination is by running against movement conservatism writ large, as John Kasich seems determined to join Jon Huntsman in demonstrating. But the idea that staking out a perfectly-calibrated movement-conservative position on every issue actually gets you the nomination is contradicted by, well, the outcome of every recent Republican primary campaign — not to mention this season’s Trumpmania and Carson fever, the latter of which would have to break before the SEC primary for Cruz to have any chance at the nomination at all.

Still, it must be said that Cruz’s positioning is very impressively calibrated at the moment. And if he gets the war with Rubio he’s clearly planning for, then regardless of the outcome we should prepare for some pretty interesting political television this winter — and perhaps this spring as well.

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Jonah Goldberg takes on the newest idea from liberals - to make voting compulsory.
My old boss, William F. Buckley, often said liberals don’t care what you do so long as it's compulsory (though he probably borrowed the line from his friend M. Stanton Evans).

There’s probably no better illustration of this illiberal streak in liberalism than the idea of “compulsory voting.” The argument usually goes like this: Voter turnout in America is low. Low voter turnout is bad. Therefore, we should make voting mandatory. (This argument is most popular after an election like last week's when things don't go so well for Democrats.)

When asked why low voter turnout is bad, one usually gets a mumbled verbal stew of Norman Rockwell-esque pieties about enhanced citizenship, reduced polarization and, on occasion, veiled suggestions that Washington would get its policies right — or I should say left — if everyone voted.

To call most of these arguments gobbledygook is a bit unfair — to gobbledygook. First note that this logic can be applied to literally every good thing, from brushing your teeth to eating broccoli. Moreover, the notion that forcing people who don’t care about politics to vote will make them more engaged and thoughtful citizens is ludicrous. We force juvenile delinquents (now called “justice-involved youth” by the Obama administration) and other petty criminals to clean up trash in parks and alongside highways. Is there any evidence this has made them more sincere environmentalists? If we gave every student in the country straight A's, that would make all the education trend lines look prettier, but it wouldn’t actually improve education.
Why assume that forcing people to vote would force them to become more politically informed? They might just continue to make uniformed choices while paying more attention to whatever is important to them. And, as Goldberg explains, don't assume that compulsory voting would guarantee the election of Democrats forever and ever.
Even the ancient left-wing assumption that if we could politically activate the downtrodden masses of the poor and the oppressed to storm the polling stations, we might topple the supposed tyranny of privilege and inequality is wrong, too. The overwhelming consensus among political scientists who’ve looked at the question is that universal turnout would not change the results of national elections. It would, however, probably have a positive effect on local elections for school boards and municipal governments because these low-turnout elections are monopolized by entrenched bureaucrats and government unions (and that’s the way they like it, by the way).

Of course, some analysts disagree. But that just shows that their real interest isn’t in engaged citizenship but in getting the policies they want. You can be sure the only way this statist fantasy will ever truly die is if liberals always get their way under the existing system. If that happens, you can be sure we’ll start hearing a lot more about how low-voter turnout is a good and wonderful thing.