Americans Are Exceptionally Bad at Voting

Look at all these Danes going to vote on their hippie bicycles, as though it’s a right or something! Photo: Francis Joseph Dean/Corbis via Getty Images

“American exceptionalism” is a term mostly used by people who want to celebrate some aspect of U.S. culture or politics that distinguishes this country from others, especially Western European democracies.

U.S. nationalists are generally less eager to note those differences that are by no means positive, such as greater concentrations of poverty and our massively higher rates of gun violence.

Still another dubious achievement involves civic participation. At RealClearPolitics, an America-watcher from Denmark notes the wildly different voter-turnout rates in his and our country:

When Denmark’s most recent parliament elections took place in 2015, some 86 percent of eligible voters turned out. The same is true in neighboring countries. In Sweden, where the most recent parliament election took place in 2014, the turnout was nearly identical. The year before that, 78 percent of Norwegians came out to vote.
By comparison, in the 2012 U.S. presidential elections, just under 55 percent of eligible voters bothered to show up in the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney (some estimates vary slightly). In the midterm elections of 2010, 2014 – in all U.S midterms – the turnout was significantly lower. For us, the difference is both remarkable and unfortunate.

Being Scandinavian, of course, this well-meaning friendly critic cannot understand that voting is a privilege, not a right here in the Land of the Free. People who have earned a criminal record don’t deserve the franchise. And if everyone did vote, we could well wind up like poor enslaved Danes, with their socialism and loose morals and lack of gun rights. It’s all the more reason patriots should stockpile weapons to make sure no such tyranny is allowed to take power here.

And if that offends the Danes, they can keep their butter cookies and leave God’s Country alone. We cherish our right to let other people govern us. Wait, that didn’t come out right …

Americans Are Exceptionally Bad at Voting