Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

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Spiral Out
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Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Spiral Out » November 8th, 2016, 7:01 am

We are constantly admonished of our responsibility as US citizens to vote and how important it is for us to do so. We are told how critically important our vote is. If it is a critical responsibility to vote, shouldn't we also be critically responsible for that vote?

So then the question is: If Donald Trump becomes president and plunges the nation into civil war, isolationism and economic hardship (which is what I believe will happen) then how much culpability do the people who voted for him have?

Should they in some way be held directly responsible for the fallout, especially given the obvious nature of his character?

Thank you for your thoughts.
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Re: Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Dolphin42 » November 18th, 2016, 8:07 am

If we did hold them responsible, what do you propose their punishment ought to be?

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Re: Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Nick_A » November 18th, 2016, 10:20 am

Their taxes should reflect their responsibility. For example all persons should be required to admit on their tax forms if they support illegal aliens in the United States. If they do, they should pay a sir charge of $1,000 to support them. Those who oppose the invasion by illegal aliens would of course not have this obligation. It is the fair thing to do. Not just your vote but your taxes as well should reflect your beliefs
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Re: Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Dolphin42 » November 18th, 2016, 10:32 am

Perhaps they could also argue that they get a tax refund, paid for out of the £11 billion dollars of taxes paid by those undocumented workers?

What about Spiral Out's prediction that (among other things) economic growth will decline under the next president? Should citizens who voted for the winning candidate (whoever that turns out to be) be rewarded financially if the economy subsequently does well and penalised if it does badly? A bit like betting on a horse?

-- Updated November 18th, 2016, 3:38 pm to add the following --

I meant to say "$11 billion". Soz.

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Re: Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Robert66 » November 19th, 2016, 7:41 am

It is an interesting question, Spiral Out. I suspect the answer is similar to the answer to the question: To what extent does the incoming President have a mandate to implement his promises and proposals? Incoming leaders and their Parties tend to claim a mandate for all kinds of dubious actions and legislation, but with the very low voter turnout typical of US elections it would seem far-fetched to think that anything like a majority would condone eg building a wall to keep Mexicans out. So while I think the election result was unfortunate, I don't think holding responsible the minority who voted the way they did is right.

I'm reminded of Edmund Burke's words: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” A lot of people did a kind of crazy, yet kind of explainable thing by voting for Trump. They were (rightly) pissed off with the state of affairs, and being ignored; they were responding to audacious political theatre which, even while it made liberal folk squirm, caused an eruption of support even in most unlikely quarters. Yet the real question is: Where were the right-thinking citizens, the tens of millions who do not seem to share your concerns, Spiral Out, on Polling Day? How culpable are non-voters when such an abomination as a Trump presidency is allowed to occur?

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Re: Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Spiral Out » November 19th, 2016, 9:08 am

Dolphin42 wrote:If we did hold them responsible, what do you propose their punishment ought to be?
I'm not sure, I'd like to get some ideas. Whatever it is, I think it should be in line with the severity of the situation. Obviously, if it had been the case that someone had voted for Hitler, with his agenda being well known, then such a person should be culpable to a degree for his subsequent actions.
Nick_A wrote:Their taxes should reflect their responsibility. For example all persons should be required to admit on their tax forms if they support illegal aliens in the United States. If they do, they should pay a sir charge of $1,000 to support them. Those who oppose the invasion by illegal aliens would of course not have this obligation. It is the fair thing to do. Not just your vote but your taxes as well should reflect your beliefs
At first glance, that's not a bad idea. There would need to be clear and objective rules and structures built around that concept. I wonder if it could be done in practice.
Dolphin42 wrote:Perhaps they could also argue that they get a tax refund, paid for out of the £11 billion dollars of taxes paid by those undocumented workers?

What about Spiral Out's prediction that (among other things) economic growth will decline under the next president? Should citizens who voted for the winning candidate (whoever that turns out to be) be rewarded financially if the economy subsequently does well and penalised if it does badly? A bit like betting on a horse?

-- Updated November 18th, 2016, 3:38 pm to add the following --

I meant to say "$11 billion". Soz.
Financial rewards or penalties would seem the easiest to justify and implement. What about ideas like limiting the access to certain types of employment, goods and services and/or social programs?
Robert66 wrote:It is an interesting question, Spiral Out. I suspect the answer is similar to the answer to the question: To what extent does the incoming President have a mandate to implement his promises and proposals? Incoming leaders and their Parties tend to claim a mandate for all kinds of dubious actions and legislation, but with the very low voter turnout typical of US elections it would seem far-fetched to think that anything like a majority would condone eg building a wall to keep Mexicans out. So while I think the election result was unfortunate, I don't think holding responsible the minority who voted the way they did is right.

I'm reminded of Edmund Burke's words: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” A lot of people did a kind of crazy, yet kind of explainable thing by voting for Trump. They were (rightly) pissed off with the state of affairs, and being ignored; they were responding to audacious political theatre which, even while it made liberal folk squirm, caused an eruption of support even in most unlikely quarters. Yet the real question is: Where were the right-thinking citizens, the tens of millions who do not seem to share your concerns, Spiral Out, on Polling Day? How culpable are non-voters when such an abomination as a Trump presidency is allowed to occur?
As far as non-voters are concerned, there would need to be more than just two candidates. Now, relative to that, the candidates would need to be required to implement all of their campaign promises, not be allowed to change their position and would be required to provide significant detail on their proposals. If the people are to be held accountable for their vote then the candidates will have to be universally transparent.

After the 2008 election, I was seeing tags on vehicles that said "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For McCain". Not knowing what would've been if McCain had been elected, it could've just as reasonably said "Don't Thank Me, I Voted For McCain".

Either way, Clinton won the popular vote, although not by much (about 1.25 million votes). The American political system needs to be changed as the electoral college is outdated and unjustifiable.
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Re: Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Misty » November 19th, 2016, 10:38 am

Spiral Out wrote:
Dolphin42 wrote:If we did hold them responsible, what do you propose their punishment ought to be?
I'm not sure, I'd like to get some ideas. Whatever it is, I think it should be in line with the severity of the situation. Obviously, if it had been the case that someone had voted for Hitler, with his agenda being well known, then such a person should be culpable to a degree for his subsequent actions.
Are you saying that Trump is like Hitler?

Also, those who voted for Trump in a state taken by Clinton, would you still hold their vote responsible for his election?
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Re: Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Spiral Out » November 19th, 2016, 1:36 pm

Misty wrote:
Spiral Out wrote: (Nested quote removed.)


I'm not sure, I'd like to get some ideas. Whatever it is, I think it should be in line with the severity of the situation. Obviously, if it had been the case that someone had voted for Hitler, with his agenda being well known, then such a person should be culpable to a degree for his subsequent actions.
(Nested quote removed.)
Are you saying that Trump is like Hitler?

Also, those who voted for Trump in a state taken by Clinton, would you still hold their vote responsible for his election?
Of course not, but your suspicion is telling. I was simply using an extreme example to illustrate my point. To a lesser degree, if Trump creates enough division within the country to cause a civil war, then I think those who voted for him should be held personally responsible since they knew of his ideologies prior to.
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Re: Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Gertie » November 19th, 2016, 9:45 pm

Spiral Out
Nick_A wrote:
Their taxes should reflect their responsibility. For example all persons should be required to admit on their tax forms if they support illegal aliens in the United States. If they do, they should pay a sir charge of $1,000 to support them. Those who oppose the invasion by illegal aliens would of course not have this obligation. It is the fair thing to do. Not just your vote but your taxes as well should reflect your beliefs

At first glance, that's not a bad idea. There would need to be clear and objective rules and structures built around that concept. I wonder if it could be done in practice.
Occasionally parties will promise in their manifestos that they'll ring-fence certain funds to show they're prioritising certain areas, but it limits flexibility. (The problem with sticking to manifesto pledges in general is that once a new govt gets to look at the books (the finances), things might have to change, or circs change, recessions happen, projected growth isn't realised, the infrastructure isn't in place to facilitate promises and so on).

But this more radical idea of only paying for the bits of government spending you like opens a can of worms. The people who don't have kids can say they don't want to pay money for schools. And all those who don't use libraries, or believe in nuclear deterrents, don't claim welfare, don't care about sustainable green energy initiatives cos they're old, and on and on.

It's right wing small government Libertarian paradise I suppose, but impractical, makes it almost impossible to plan services, and would quickly fail.

A few countries, well I can only think of Switzerland off hand, run quite a few referenda, that's another possible approach. But there's still the problem of how to combine that with organising a coherent costed budget, allocating funds, long-term joined up policy making. Not sure how the likes of Switzerland do it.

I was peripherally involved in that type of devolution planning at a local level at one time, looking at asking people to vote on specific proposals regarding local spending in a referendum-like way. It can work to an extent on the small scale. But the problems soon became apparent, people vote 'Yes' to everything, but don't want to pay more. Or if you force them to prioritise, people tend to vote for stuff at the forefront of their minds, say everyday nuisances like fixing pot-holes, and not think about less obvious, immediate or personally relevant issues. It all gets very tricky very fast trying to effectively run services, or a government, that way.


In theory the way of getting governments to keep their promises is the fact they have to win your vote again in a few years. In practice this too leaves a lot to be desired! I don't know what the answer is. Honest politicians will be unpopular, and jumped on by the media, they're basically forced to be 'economical with the truth', not answer questions directly, and tell people what they think will win votes. Trump got a lot of kudos for not being like that, but look what it brought. If only people rich enough to fund their own campaigns can afford to be honest, well that's a problem. And if they have to rely on rabble-rousing hate-mongering and demagoguery to distract people from the fact they're not actually offering policies they can be held accountable to, well, not good is it.

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Re: Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Burning ghost » November 20th, 2016, 4:02 am

No, they should not be held responsible. If the government does something you think is bad and people support that bad act then those people should be held responsible indirectly if they are aware of what is happening.

To hold someone accountable for someone elses actions is pretty damn silly. It is like blaming all muslims for a car bombing committed by someone professing it as an "Islamic action", like blaming all US citizens for the US army bombing hospitals and killing innocent women and children.

That said I do think people have some civic duty to protest what they see as an injustice regardless of how it effect them indirectly or personally. Given that we live in societies inclined towards labelling people in some way this can be more difficult to do than it often seems.

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Re: Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Wilson » November 29th, 2016, 8:52 pm

Yes, the people who voted for Trump are responsible for what happens to us (and the world) next. Those who opposed Trump but didn't vote for Hillary are also responsible. Their actions are a stain on their character, credibility, and common sense. But I'm not sure what "holding them responsible" means. You can't punish them. Unfortunately, those of us who are more rational will have to bear the consequences just as much as the idiots will.

That's the problem with democracy. Sometimes stupid people have more votes. (Still better than alternative systems.) But I suspect the results won't be as dire as Spiral Out predicts. We'll muddle through. Our standing in the world has taken a major hit, though. Our own sense of this country as one that holds the barbarians of the world at bay has been shaken. Can the world survive our first narcissistic personality disorder president? Stay tuned.

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Re: Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Robert66 » March 24th, 2018, 5:16 pm

Could you give me an update, Spiral Out? Is the plunge into 'civil war, isolationism and economic hardship' occurring as you anticipated? I'm really not trying to get "cute" here, but as an outside observer I am fascinated by what has been happening since Trump came in an tore up every bit of anything he could tear up.

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Re: Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Eduk » March 28th, 2018, 3:53 am

I too have often wondered why not voting is a terrible thing to do. I've never read why.
My thoughts are sadly circular. You shouldn't vote on something without knowledge. But the vast majority do. So you might want to vote to help prevent extremism. But how then do you prevent extremism if you don't have the knowledge.
As to responsibility, of course you are responsible but clearly there can be no official punishment.

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Re: Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Steve3007 » March 28th, 2018, 11:42 am

Robert: Great picture of George Orwell holding a gun with a fag in his mouth. One of the skills that died with older generations was the ability to have a fag in the corner of the mouth at all times.

Anyway, I don't think people should be held responsible for the actions of the people they voted for. It's representative democracy.

I don't know who I'm going to vote for in the next general election. I could never bring myself to vote for a party containing Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg ("the honourable member for the 18th Century") and I couldn't vote for Labour while Corbyn is leader. So I guess it's either the Lib-Dems or the Monster Raving Loonies.
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Re: Responsibility to Vote vs. Responsibility for the Vote

Post by Empiricist-Bruno » April 1st, 2018, 2:37 pm

To me, voting for the head of a political machine does not give you any power over the political machine as it is the machine that seeks it's new head. When the voter can't stop the political machine, there is no real responsibility for it or what it does.
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