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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 29, 2012/ 13 Mar-Cheshvan, 5773

Voting is a right, not a duty

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: It's your civic duty to vote. Between now and Election Day unless you're planning an extended session in a sensory-deprivation tank you'll no doubt hear it again. And again.

Don't believe it. It's not your duty to vote.

Not that I'm against voting. I was 9 when I first saw the inside of a voting booth. It was Election Day, 1968. My father took me with him early in the morning when he went to vote and let me pull the lever for his candidate -- Hubert H. Humphrey. (My mother cast her ballot later that day for Richard M. Nixon.) Once I turned old enough to vote I became an Election Day regular. My candidates don't usually win, and even those who do routinely disappoint me in office. Still, "don't vote ---- it only encourages them" has never been my philosophy.

As a father I've taken my own children with me to the polls. In 2004 my then-7-year-old wondered why so many people were standing in line to vote, when there was no law requiring them to do so and no doubt about which presidential candidate would carry our state. Part of the reason, I told him, is that many people like to vote. We relish the egalitarian ritual of Election Day citizens of every rank coming together as equals to peacefully choose their leaders. Even when the outcome is a foregone conclusion, voting is an act of democratic self-government that many Americans enjoy being part of.

But plenty of other Americans don't feel that way. Tens of millions of eligible voters routinely sit out national elections, and there is no legitimate basis for scorning them. Quite the contrary. Though it may be unfashionable to say it, there are perfectly sound reasons not to vote.

For one thing, your vote almost certainly won't matter.

The odds that any single voter will actually determine how an election turns out are "very, very, very slim," wrote Freakonomics authors Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt in 2005, citing research that analyzed more than 56,000 congressional and state legislative elections sating back to 1898. Just eight of those elections were decided by a single vote -- and only one of those eight was a contest for a US House seat. In a presidential election, the average voter's impact is even less significant. Even in so-called battleground states, the likelihood that any given voter's participation will affect the outcome is infinitesimal and most of us don't live in battleground states. Americans who decide they have more important things to do with their time than cast a vote that won't make a difference anyway are probably right.

That's even truer for eligible voters who don't feel they know enough -- or who don't care enough -- to cast an informed vote. That's not meant as a put-down. As Harvard economist Greg Mankiw points out, even reliable voters who never miss an election will often skip down-ballot races about which they have little or no information.

"In practice, this means that you are relying on your fellow citizens to make the right choice," writes Mankiw, a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. "But this can be perfectly rational. If you really don't know enough to cast an intelligent vote, you should be eager to let your more informed neighbors make the decision."

If that's the case when it comes to elections for registrar of deeds or county commissioner, why not in contests for state representative, US senator, or president? Like buying stocks or undergoing surgery, the election of government officials can have serious consequences. We don't hector Americans to make uninformed decisions about investments or medical treatment. What societal advantage is there in badgering people with no interest in candidates or elections to go to the polls anyway?

"But it's your civic duty to vote!"

No, it isn't. You have the right to vote, not a duty to do so. In much the same way, you have the right to worship freely, the right to express your views, the right to run for public office but no obligation to do any of them.  Just as freedom of religion encompasses the freedom to practice no religion, your freedom to vote for the candidate of your choice includes the freedom to vote for no candidate at all.

"I leave you with the words of my mom," said CBS newsman Bob Schieffer, wrapping up the final presidential debate in Boca Raton last week. "Go vote. It makes you feel big and strong." Great advice -- for those who feel that way. But there's nothing wrong with staying home for those who don't.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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