The Dumb Vote
In crisis, Democrats turn to their fundamental constituency.

Screen shot from Michael Moore’s obscene-grannies ad


Kevin D. Williamson

The buffet of ignorance on display here is impressive: The United States is anything but overpopulated, and persistent fears about overpopulation have been a staple of Chicken Little thinking at least since Malthus. The population-growth rate of the planet has been declining since the 1960s. Most population scientists predict that the planet’s population will stabilize and then begin to decline sometime around the end of this century. Many countries already are experiencing acute economic problems related to falling birth rates. But of course the population scare has long been invoked on behalf of abortion and related issues, so nobody can be bothered to think too hard about it. As for “ungoverned corporate privilege,” I wonder what Mr. Whedon believes explains GM’s access to taxpayer capital, or GE’s low tax bills under Obama-approved policies?

And “pretending that we care about each other”? If Mr. Whedon could document that he has given one-half the amount in charitable contributions that Mitt Romney has, I would be endlessly surprised. But hypocrisy is the least of the problems with this line of argument: Mr. Whedon’s implicit argument — one that he probably does not understand himself — is that “caring” is a purely expressive gesture rather than a substantive one, voting for the right candidate instead of doing the right thing.

Romney, whatever else you think about him, is somebody who has fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and visited the sick. In Mr. Whedon’s view of the world, none of that dirty-handed business is necessary: All that is necessary is that one cast a symbolic vote for the man who promises to care, and to express that care by expropriating money from people you don’t like and giving it to people for whom you have a moral concern that is at best theoretical. That is the cheapest form of charity, which surely would occur to Mr. Whedon and his admirers, if they ever took the time to think about it. Fortunately for President Obama, they have shown neither the inclination nor the ability to do so.

For the Dumb Vote, voting is simply an expression of affiliation, a way of marking one’s membership in the tribe of the compassionately ironic or ironically compassionate or whatever. It is a gesture for people who are absolutely certain that they are right — not because they have any meaningful information, but because they are absolutely certain that the other side is evil, which is why they so quickly and consistently revert to claims of racism against a movement that includes lots of non-white partisans, claims of misogyny against a movement that includes an enormous number of women, claims of aspiring Christian theocracy against a movement that includes a great many non-Christians and that is noted for its affinity with the Jewish state, etc.

The unfortunate truth is that Jon Stewart doesn’t represent the bottom end of Democratic thinking, but something somewhere in the middle of it. If anything should be keeping Mitt Romney awake tonight, it’s that the Dumb Vote is bigger than he thinks.

— Kevin D. Williamson is roving correspondent for National Review.