Got corruption, discrimination, and a weak judiciary in your country? Give away a free Hyundai!
It is widely acknowledged that voter apathy is a major problem in the United States. Left-leaning groups like Rock the Vote encourage young people to express their deep-held, unspoken convictions through Nikka Costa concerts and "I Heart Social Security" trucker hats. Seriously- they even have "awareness bracelets" (thanks Lance Armstrong).
But what about our poor brothers across the Atlantic who do not have MoveOn.org or Rock the Vote to lean on in times that may require extra incentives for voters? What about those downtrodden countries that cannot rely upon free concerts and rally appearances by the Dixie Chicks, Dave Matthews, and all of Hollywood to articulate the importance of voting to the electorate?
Well, it seems that if you do not have an entrenched liberal base of celebrities to fall back on, you can always give away a Hyundai.
Or at least, that's the state of things in Bulgaria. Although this voting incentive is not quite on scale with previous attempts by the English Parliament (which round election time pays for beer mats to be distributed to local pubs emblazoned with the bold statement "I drink, therefore I vote"), the Bulgarian Government is getting pretty close.
I wonder if Aristotle would approve...
But then again, maybe voters have reached a point where they feel that the precious time they take to cast a vote- to choose their representatives- deserves entry into a lotto for a Sainsbury's certificate (at least in England it apparently does).
Clearly, "getting out the vote" should be an important goal during every election cycle. Political awareness and debate is an important facet of any free, democratic society. After all, a democratic election is designed to represent the will of the people- that is, if people vote. So what if people- as is the case here and in Europe- choose not to vote? Shouldn't the government be responsible for concocting some scheme to remedy the ails of free society?
But what is worth sacrificing in the process?
Despite all the talk of corruption and elected officials who act more like tenured professors than statesmen, there is still an intangible righteousness in American voting. Despite the aberrations of Bush v. Gore and Cook County (depending upon the political party it may be a bit more than an aberration), every vote is supposed to count in our system. Every vote is supposed to be a free will expression of an American's wish for the future. The right to vote is a tremendous privilege that underpins our Republic.
I'd love a free car too. We all would. But, Bulgaria's efforts to revitalize the electorate smacks too much of bribery. Besides, I'd rather have a beer mat.