I am too lazy and stupid to form an opinion

Tory Maguire has a suggestion for those who think the way to deal with ignorant and uninformed voters is to make voting voluntary:

Those who argue that the uninformed aren’t adding value to our democracy should consider the idea that perhaps the answer is to inform the uninformed.

Exactly. Voluntary voting brings with it a whole host of negatives – electoral commissions that have no idea how many people will show up and thus can’t adequately plan for it, so you have people actually being prevented from voting (see recent US and UK elections); disenfranchisement of the poor; a further coarsening of our politics as parties ignore the moderate to chase the fanatical. And the one problem with it – that ignorant people have the same vote as the most informed, well, that’s incentive for the rest of us to make sure that the education system is not producing ignorant people.

As for “I don’t want to vote for any of them” – that’s a cop-out. Surely you have some you prefer to others – or, if you’d rather look at it this way, some you detest more than others. If there really isn’t a party out there advocating your views, perhaps you should sit down and figure out what they actually are and if there isn’t a party close to them, then start your own. (I bet there is a party out there close to your views, though.)


“None of them deserve my vote” = “I am too lazy and stupid to form an opinion” = “I’d rather that this dolt above had more say than I do in what happens to this country”

It’s not good enough to say “I have no opinion”. Really? You can’t decide between locking refugees in the remote outback and refusing to process their claims and processing them fairly and quickly? You can’t decide between governments wasting your money on political advertising or being prevented from doing that? You can’t decide between whether mining companies should pay more tax on the extra prices our resources are now receiving or not? You’re seriously incapable of forming an opinion on the issues of the day?

If that’s the case, the problem isn’t with the options you’re being offered. It’s with you.

PS Final retort to those who say “my vote doesn’t count” – it counts just as much as everyone else’s. Why should they take their share of responsibility for what happens to this country and you should not?

UPDATE: And rest assured, these sanctimonious pricks* will be voting. Do your part to counter their efforts to turn Australia into a theocracy.

*Note: that epithet is not directed at ordinary Christians – it’s directed at the hypocrites and liars at the “Australian Christian Lobby”. Especially Jim Wallace.

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51 responses to “I am too lazy and stupid to form an opinion

  1. Not everyone is as smart or has as much free time as you or I, Jeremy.

  2. I’m not saying they should agree with my opinions or come to the same conclusions – I’m saying that everyone who’s able to function as an adult in society has enough time and intelligence to HAVE an opinion and be able to make a choice.

  3. Well its a great wisdom to be able to say “I don’t know enough to form an opinion”. To respect the complexity of the world. The refugee question is not open and shut. There are factors to be considered. Things cannot be decided upon simple laws of good and bad. They have to be calculated by taking into account all the factors. Seeing it as a system.

    This is the problem (I would assert) that you have with the legal system. You have a collection of ‘rules’ about things that are ‘good’. And cannot see a way to make them variable. They are fixed. Well, people who have to feed families, maintain relationships and keep jobs realise that their lives are one big, ongoing tradeoff. Nothing is black and white. And they also know that they are good at a couple of things: say footy and being a parent and doing their job. At really have no idea about a lot of other stuff. So if it is that difficult to achieve these objectives, how the hell are they positioned to know how to solve the refugee problem??

    It takes a special kind of naive arrogance to be a pundit, Jeremy. You and I both have it.

  4. “Well its a great wisdom to be able to say “I don’t know enough to form an opinion””

    No, it isn’t. We are going to choose some course of action going forward. If you don’t think you have enough information on an issue to make up your mind, then bloody well talk to people about it. Look it up. Google it. Wikipedia it. Ask people you know what they think and why.

    The country can’t cop out of these decisions, neither should you.

    I’m pretty sure that most of the people complaining about voting have an opinion on these issues already – their problem is they’ve swallowed the line that only Labor or Liberal are worth voting for, and because they don’t like either of them they feel shut out.

    The way through that morass is to realise that Labor and Liberal are just two parties that have no more right to be in government than anyone else, and that you can vote for someone else.

  5. But we have division of labour. Not everyone can be a dilettante.

    People make up their minds as late as possible before an election, and I agree that this is far from optimum.

    The problem however rests with our politicians, and their lack of ability to communicate. Or, even to think through the complexity in the first instance.

    I think people have a right to expect politicians to present a case that makes sense to them. To explain complexity in a straightforward manner.
    The problem is with the politicians.

    In any case, it is only the politicians we can expect to influence. We bloggers are invisible to the vast majority of the the people. And the MSM only listen to us when we can divine some theory concerning the weakness of the politicians they report on as well.

    That’s the system we work with, and its silly to worry about or expect that which we cannot change, and which is in any case due to abrogation of our leaders to damn well explain themselves.

    And to trust that it even possible to communicate complexity. Of course it is, but they’re all on a power trip that places their own ‘superior intelligence’ as justification for continuing to believe that people will not understand anything but “Ugh Its A Great Big Tax Ugh”

  6. confessions

    It’s true that under compulsory voting the swinging voters who are not engaged with politics are the ones who decide election outcomes. However, I too don’t believe the answer is voluntary voting.

    I disagree however with the view that its ignorance on the part of these individuals. I think it’s more that they form their impressions about who to vote for from the snatches they see on the nightly news, rather than drilling down deeper into issues. I don’t think that’s wrong either, it’s just reality. Not everyone finds politics interesting, or feels like they want to engage with the process.

  7. confessions,

    and I wonder if the issues were made more accessible, better explained, perhaps interest would be increased?

  8. I put in a donkey vote in our last state election not as a cop out but as a protest to my preferred party turning into lying arsehats before my very eyes.

  9. Blast Tyrant

    I think Confessions has a bit of a point with “they form their impressions about who to vote for from the snatches they see on the nightly news, rather than drilling down deeper into issues” to an extent, there are people like that.

    However people who justify not having an opinion and not wanting to vote based on whether it’s interesting or not a just pathetic.
    As Jeremy says “You can’t decide between locking refugees in the remote outback and refusing to process their claims and processing them fairly and quickly?” and I would add “whether you want the government to spend billions on so called defense and go along with wars that create refugees?” fuck those people.
    I don’t think voluntary voting is the answer for them, they should go live in a country where they don’t even bother with elections.
    Wow, never thought I would pull that line out.

    Also, i think the voting cards should be reversed so that the focus is on who you hate the most, who you would least likely see in parliament.

  10. Blast Tyrant

    Apologies for the spelling and grammar mistakes in the last post, I didn’t bother to read over it before i posted.

  11. It shouldn’t be, though. The question is, why are all these hateful, lying dishonest people being elected to parliament? Somebody is voting for them. I’m not.

    The sad thing is that the same people who complain most about filthy feral politicains are the ones who keep voting for that type of politician.

    Phill – so who did you vote for instead? Are you sure you didn’t vote for someone even worse?

  12. The question is, why are all these hateful, lying dishonest people being elected to parliament?

    Because loads of people get their info from the Herald Sun and Today Tonight, they have to vote so they vote for hateful, lying dishonest people. based on the bullshit they’ve been fed by the MSM. I know the MSM pumps out crap because I’m an avid watcher of media Watch.

    Anyway my fellow posters, I want your advice, I want to lodge a protest vote against Brumby’s Govt in the next state election, now keep in mind I live in the Western Suburbs and Labor are absolutely bound to win. Do I vote Green which is my preferred party or do I vote Liberal to send a message to Brumby et al ? My gut instinct is to vote for what I believe in.

  13. RobJ,

    Ok, here’s what you.

    1) Buy a gun.
    2) Find the nearest [censored] and [censored] the fuck out of them.
    3) Go to [censored] and make sure that [censored] when they get there.
    4) Return home and deal with the [censored] when it comes.
    5) Live a happy life in the knowledge that your new leader is blessed in mind, body and soul.

    Good luck! And may Stephen Conroy’s God be with you.

  14. Vote for what you believe in, Rob. It’s supposed to be a representative democracy. Figure out what’s important to you, and look at who’s closest to advocating it. Put the parties in the order you like them.

    Voting 1 Green and preferencing Labor above the Libs tells them that they should stop taking progressive voters for granted. If enough people do that, the ALP will be forced either to stop selling us out, or it’ll be replaced.

    I’d vote 1 Green and then rank the two big old parties on which is, overall, going to make the country worse. It doesn’t say that you like either of them – after all, that’s why you’ve voted for someone else! If you really hate Labor more than the Liberals – and no matter how bad Labor has got, I’m not sure on which issues the Liberals aren’t even worse – then preference them below the Libs. But I wouldn’t vote 1 Liberal unless I actually believed in locking refugees in the remote outback, flogging off national assets to fund tax cuts for the rich, and cutting public services that rich voters don’t use.

    Also, whoever gets your first preference gets the funding. I’m not convinced the Liberals deserve it.

  15. Thanks Jeremy

    “Also, whoever gets your first preference gets the funding. I’m not convinced the Liberals deserve it.”

    I agree, whilst I abhor Labor the Liberals are worse…

  16. “Phill – so who did you vote for instead? Are you sure you didn’t vote for someone even worse?”

    I didn’t vote for anyone. Couldn’t bring myself to do it. I got my name crossed off, got my papers and wrote a short essay on them about how dissappointed I had become with the political process and how I was therefore refusing to participate in it.

    My disgust for the whole political process came after I heard a political figure, who I had worked with and admired, lie through his teeth about an issue.

    I found that really disappointing and I vowed to not participate in that particular election.

  17. So you rewarded the liar by not voting for his opponents?

  18. Well they all lie so I chose not to participate in the system.

  19. … you know of SOME who lie and by assuming they all do you give the ones who lie no consequence for lying. You participated in the system as someone who doesn’t distinguish between candidates who lie and candidates who don’t.

    If I found my candidate was lying I’d vote for someone else. I don’t believe the candidate I’m going to vote for is.

  20. confessions

    Do I vote Green which is my preferred party or do I vote Liberal to send a message to Brumby et al ?

    If you vote Lib then the only message you are sending is that you agree with their policies.

  21. So you wont be voting Labor then confessions? 😉

  22. confessions

    It doesn’t matter who I vote for. I still end up with the same old fossil sitting on the backbench doing sweet FA in Canberra!

    Seriously though, I think it’s too risky to vote anything other than Labor this election. What if I changed my vote and we end up with Abbott and the rabble in govt?! I’d never forgive myself. The time to vote Greens is when Labor are polling well, or when there’s a coalition government likely to be returned. Any other time could lead to disaster.

  23. “It doesn’t matter who I vote for.”

    Really? Whose vote counts more than yours?

    “I still end up with the same old fossil sitting on the backbench doing sweet FA in Canberra!”

    If you voted against him or her, at least you’re not part of that problem.

    “What if I changed my vote and we end up with Abbott and the rabble in govt?!”

    Explain to me how voting 1 Green and then putting Labor ahead of Liberals helps Tony Abbott.

    “Any other time could lead to disaster.”

    How?

  24. confessions

    The people voting in marginal electorates have more chance of influencing who governs than I do living in a safe seat. The more marginal the seat, the higher the value attached to a person’s vote. People in safe seats like me don’t determine election outcomes.

  25. “You participated in the system as someone who doesn’t distinguish between candidates who lie and candidates who don’t”

    So you would have me vote for someone whose policies I vehemently disagree with to protest a lie. No, I can’t do that. Hence my decision to place an informal vote.

    “you know of SOME who lie”

    Yes, I KNOW of some who lie but based on the daily misinformation and spin from both major sides of the political arena, I can only assume that its fairly well par for the course.

    I think you’re missing my point.

    I chose to place an invalid vote to protest (in an albeit small way) a political system that rewards essentially honest people for telling lies.

    I wasn’t particularly trying to “punish” that person but register my disgust at the system as a whole.

  26. Your seat is only “safe”, confessions, because of people voting for one of the major parties. Don’t be part of the problem.

    You’re right to the extent that we do have an undemocratic system designed to make it difficult to challenge the major parties, and if that annoys you then perhaps like me you’d be interested in lobbying for a multi-member electorate system that gives each person more of an equal say – but that doesn’t mean that your vote doesn’t count.

    If people in safe seats are being ignored, then the question is why are people voting for the party that’s ignoring them?

    The fundamental issue you raised is the scare campaign the ALP is certain to run, that a vote for the Greens and preferencing Labor somehow helps Tony Abbott. This is not true. There is no way that your vote could help Tony Abbott unless you give it to him, or at least put Liberals above Labor. If you don’t do that, then your vote can’t help him.

    If you really think that voting 1 Greens and preferencing Labor helps Tony Abbott, please explain to me how. Because that’s not how the system works.

  27. ‘So you would have me vote for someone whose policies I vehemently disagree with to protest a lie. No, I can’t do that. Hence my decision to place an informal vote.”

    You should start your own party then.

    Fortunately for me the Greens both match my political views and don’t lie to me. If I felt they did… well, then I’d need to find someone else.

    “I chose to place an invalid vote to protest (in an albeit small way) a political system that rewards essentially honest people for telling lies.

    I wasn’t particularly trying to “punish” that person but register my disgust at the system as a whole.”

    Very constructive of you. Your preferred system would be…?

  28. “Your preferred system would be…?”

    One that doesn’t encourage deceipt.

  29. I suggest voters voting against liars. What’s your suggestion?

  30. I used to vote Democrats until Tash buggered it all up by wanting to have babies.

    I honestly don’t know who I’m going to vote for in the next Federal election.

  31. Well, what are your general feelings about political issues? What’s important to you?

  32. Social justice. Healthcare free and accessible to those who can’t afford to pay but private options for those who can. Ditto for education. The environment – yes I’m concerned about climate change.

    I guess if I had to describe myself, I would be centre left. I used to be hard left but I think my attitudes have shifted in the last 10 years or so.

  33. Not think – I KNOW my attitudes have changed. Not really sure why though.

  34. Except for the fact that I think that private options in health and education unavoidably damage the public system – they can only exist and flourish if there’s something wrong with the public system, otherwise why would anyone pay extra? – it sounds like we’re not that dissimilar.

    And the positions we hold on those issues are represented by the Greens. I’m not sure what your problem is voting for them then.

  35. confessions

    Yes it’s true that just me won’t have any impact on Abbott getting elected. But I’ve been reading some work Poss did unpacking the Greens preferences from the recent Neilsen, which is of concern.

    Preferences to labor have declined steadily since Nov, and are now (IIRC) at levels where if they were replicated in an election, and occurred in marginal seats Labor held, could be enough to cost Labor those seats, which would go to the Liberals. Food for thought.

  36. Maybe I should look closer at The Greens

  37. “But I’ve been reading some work Poss did unpacking the Greens preferences from the recent Neilsen, which is of concern. “

    You mean the various preferences that Greens voters select after voting for the Greens that are completely within their control.

    What’s the link to this Poss person’s scare-mongering?

    “Preferences to labor have declined steadily since Nov, and are now (IIRC) at levels where if they were replicated in an election, and occurred in marginal seats Labor held, could be enough to cost Labor those seats, which would go to the Liberals. Food for thought.”

    Um, only if you’re one of the Green voters who preferences the Liberals. If you vote Green and preference Labor, it can’t in any way help the Liberals. If the Green candidate doesn’t get up, then your vote would go to the Labor candidate.

    But they wouldn’t get your money.

    What you’re describing doesn’t make sense. Please describe a scenario in which your 1. Green 2. ALP 3. Liberals (ignoring the other parties for a minute) vote could conceivably help get a Liberal candidate up.

  38. “Maybe I should look closer at The Greens”

    That’s what I did.

  39. Marek Bage

    The Green Smear Campaign has begun!!

    Luke Walladge used to work for the Carpenter and Brumby State Governments.
    Of course he doesn’t tel any body about that in his latest ABC Unleashed article.

    Cheers

  40. confessions

    You mean the various preferences that Greens voters select after voting for the Greens that are completely within their control.

    Yes. It would seem there are less people putting Labor 2nd, according to what respondents are telling Neilsen. You can read about it here.

  41. confessions

    Less people = less Greens voters.

  42. “Yes. It would seem there are less people putting Labor 2nd, according to what respondents are telling Neilsen.”

    Yes, probably because former small l liberal voters are coming across (for the reasons in my post the other day).

    But my question is – so what? So Coalition votes go back to the Coalition – how does that affect your vote? How does that make your voting Green and preferencing Labor help Abbott?

  43. confessions

    Because as I’ve already said, it would appear that people voting Green and preferencing Labor are declining. With a simultaneously declining Labor primary vote, this is dangerous stuff. If those people live in the ‘right’ marginal electorates, they could very well bring about a change of government.

    Do they realise they could change the government? I’d be interested to know. Meanwhile, as far as I’m concerned the safest thing to do is to just vote Labor first, and preference as you like. That’s what I’ll be doing.

  44. “Because as I’ve already said, it would appear that people voting Green and preferencing Labor are declining.”

    Actually, it’s more likely that the number of people voting Green and preferencing Labor is increasing, but that they’re being joined by people voting Green and preferencing the Liberals.

    “With a simultaneously declining Labor primary vote, this is dangerous stuff.”

    Only if those were Labor voters who are now preferencing the Liberals.

    “If those people live in the ‘right’ marginal electorates, they could very well bring about a change of government.”

    No more than if they just voted for the Coalition, which is presumably what they’d do otherwise.

    “Do they realise they could change the government?”

    The people preferencing the Liberals above Labor? I presume that’s why they’re doing it.

    “Meanwhile, as far as I’m concerned the safest thing to do is to just vote Labor first, and preference as you like. “

    That doesn’t follow at all.

    Confessions.

    There are people who vote Greens and preference the Liberals above Labor. There are people who vote for the Liberals. There are people who vote for Fundies First and preference the Liberals above Labor. All these people could give us an Abbott government.

    There is no way at all that people who vote Greens and preference Labor are helping Abbott. It doesn’t matter what other Greens voters are doing with their preferences, because there are only two possibilities: either the Greens candidate gets up, or they’re eliminated.

    If the Greens candidate is elected, then that’s a huge problem for Tony Abbott – the Greens in parliament will be able to form a coalition with Labor, and will block any right wing garbage Abbott proposes.

    If the Green candidate is eliminated, then your Labor preference goes straight to Labor, and the Liberal preferences of the aforementioned voters go straight to the Liberals.

    How, in either of these cases, does your vote for the Greens and preference for Labor put us in more danger of an Abbott govt than if you’d just voted Labor?

    The only differences would be that
    (a) there’s a chance the Green could get up instead;
    (b) the Greens get the funding instead of the ALP; and
    (c) the ALP is on notice that there are more progressives out there whose votes it is losing.

    Actually, I can think of one more – if Coalition voters are coming to the Greens, then the more votes the Greens get the less likely they’ll be eliminated and those Coalition votes will go back to the Coalition. By voting Green you are helping to lock up those Coalition votes and keep them away from Abbott.

    So voting ALP instead of the Greens puts us in more danger of an Abbott government, not the other way around.

  45. confessions

    Did you read Possum’s post? Your scenarios are not supported by polling data, in particular Neilsen. Newspoll allocates preferences according to the 2007 election, so is of no use here.

    It’s quite possible, as Antony Green explains at his blog, that the Greens vote will simply retract back to normal levels once the campaign starts. He seems to be of the view that people are using the Greens as a parking space while they give a kick to the government. It allays my fears somewhat, but in no circumstances can you conclude that a high ALP PV is more likely to deliver an Abbott government. That simply does not make sense.

  46. He seems to be of the view that people are using the Greens as a parking space …

    And the policies used to lure those voters from their parking spaces might actually do this country some good.

    Cheers.

  47. galleryagain

    confessions – you appear to be talking about the statistical analysis of pre-election polls while Jeremy is talking about the actual result of an individual voting.

    For any change to that analysis to come about (remembering that some voters decide who to vote for on poll results) you will need to be included in the poll. Jeremy is talking about the results post-election.

    Have a look at http://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/counting/hor_count.htm for a real world example of what Jeremy is talking about. In this example the elected member received:
    1st pref: 16.6%
    2nd pref: 3.9%
    3rd pref: 6.3%
    4th pref: 25.4%

  48. “It allays my fears somewhat, but in no circumstances can you conclude that a high ALP PV is more likely to deliver an Abbott government. That simply does not make sense.”

    Which part of my scenario doesn’t make sense to you?

    If ex-Coalition voters are “parking” their votes with the Greens, then a higher Green vote makes it more likely that a progressive candidate – a Green – will be elected on their votes. If the Green vote is below the ALP vote, and they get knocked out, then those Coalition preferences will go straight back to the Coalition.

    That’s a scenario in which your ALP vote actually helps the Coalition, because it frees up their traitorous Greens flirters.

    There is no scenario that you have been able to give in which the “safest” thing for you to do with your vote, in terms of keeping the Coalition out, is to put the ALP above the Greens.

    I have asked repeatedly for you to show me a scenario in which YOUR INDIVIDUAL vote being 1. Greens 2. ALP in any way helps the Coalition, and you’ve given me none.

    The ALP will run scare campaigns aimed at people like you trying to capitalise on misunderstanding how preferences work, so that you think that by voting Green you’re somehow risking an Abbott government: it is simply not true. And when you think about it, you can’t actually describe a way in which it would be true.

  49. As I’ve already said, repeatedly and ad nauseum on this, and other threads, it doesn’t matter how I vote. I live in a safe seat which is not going to change hands, either to Labor, the Greens or any other party or individual.

    If however we end up with an Abbott government I want to be able to say that I had nothing to do with it because I voted Labor as my first choice. The ALP might very well run scare campaigns – in my view they should. A weak and incompetent opposition would simply translate to a weak and incompetent government.

  50. “As I’ve already said, repeatedly and ad nauseum on this, and other threads, it doesn’t matter how I vote. “

    Every vote counts. Even if it doesn’t change the seat, it tells the parties what the electorate is thinking and it tells the AEC which party to give the funding for your vote for next time. Every vote against the incumbent makes the seat less “safe”. Safe seats don’t stay “safe” forever – only by voting can you be part of changing that.

    “If however we end up with an Abbott government I want to be able to say that I had nothing to do with it because I voted Labor as my first choice. “

    As long as you put the Liberals below the ALP you will be able to say that.

    Voting Greens and preferencing Labor will NOT make you responsible for an Abbott govt.

    “The ALP might very well run scare campaigns – in my view they should. A weak and incompetent opposition would simply translate to a weak and incompetent government.”

    No, I mean they’ll run scare campaigns against voting for the Greens based on the fundamental lie that a vote for the Greens will help the conservatives, even if you preference Labor. It’s simply not true. The ALP will be trying to capitalise on voters’ ignorance to scare them into line.

  51. kim beazlies dad said it all….

    just because you are not interested in politics……does not mean politics wont take a interest in you

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