November 7, 2006 6:05PM

Where There Is Too Much Vision, The People Perish

As the country heads to the polls, that old debate about whether it’s rational to vote is getting rehashed at Reason and the Volokh site. I intend to regularly exercise my right to complain, but as a disenfranchised DC’er, I’m rather less tempted to pull the lever (touch the touchscreen?) than I’d ordinarily be. I always find it disturbing when you exit the booth and they give you a little “I Voted!” sticker, like they do when you’re seven years old and they want you to show the world that you didn’t have any cavities. If this is a civic duty, let’s at least try to make it dignified for the grown‐​ups. Either that, or bring back Tammany and the kegs of rum. 

On the Cato homepage, we have a number of useful links on the merits of divided government. Meanwhile, on today’s Washington Post op‐​ed page there are dueling columns over which party should be condemned as the party of “no ideas.” E.J. Dionne says it’s the GOP. Michael Kinsley wades through the pablum of “A New Direction for America,” the Democrats’ campaign manifesto, and suggests it’s the Ds. 

Ideas can be overrated, though. I’d certainly like to see either or both parties run on libertarian ideas, but failing that, a nice mix of gridlock, investigations, and scandals is preferable to a robust “vision thing” based on either perpetual war or muscular redistribution, which is what the “idea‐​heavy” wing of each party offers. Mencken marked the end of the Coolidge administration by saying, “There were no thrills while he reigned, but neither were there any headaches. He had no ideas, and he was not a nuisance.” For Mencken, this was praise. He was on to something.