Letter to the Editor

In his column “I didn’t vote,” Andrew Hintzman explains that he didn’t vote because the costs of voting outweigh the benefit of negligibly influencing an election. In short, Hintzman didn’t vote because he is “rational.” I would like to take a closer look at Hintzman’s “rationality” and offer a few suggestions that may alter his cost-benefit analysis.
First, I’m perplexed by what appears to be a contradiction in Hintzman’s argument. Hintzman claims that he “didn’t agree with the viable candidates on important issues,” yet he also claims he would have had to spend “hours and hours” researching the positions of those viable candidates in order to “vote properly.” How did Hintzman know that he disagreed with the viable candidates if he was too lazy to research them? Did he spend “hours and hours” researching in order to be an informed non-voter? That hardly seems rational.
By not voting, Hintzman has also forfeited his right to complain about politics – unless he wants to sound like a whiny five year old complaining about a dinner that he didn’t help make. So I better not hear Hintzman whining when Wisconsin Senator-elect Rob Johnson adamantly declares that sunspots cause global warming or when Governor-elect Scott Walker promises to “return” $810 million of federal funding for high-speed rail. And Hintzman will be missing out, because complaining about politics is a lot of fun. It’s even more fun than eating yummy voting refreshments at Edison Elementary School or bragging about receiving an “I voted” sticker – benefits which themselves outweigh all of the potential costs of voting.
The Greeks had a word for a person who declined to participate in democracy: idiotes. Next election Hintzman may want to spend his precious time voting instead of condescendingly justifying his decision not to. Otherwise, he may risk coming across as an idiotes.
-Sam Lewin ’12