Brian Topp, in conversation with Douglas Bell, considers what declining voter turnout means for our politics.
Steadily lower turnout … encourages extremism in political parties, since the key to victory becomes turning out motivated partisans instead of moderate-minded folks. In many parts of North America (rural ridings, the southern United States) this hands politics to angry, elderly white men of the sort who turned up in town halls to yell about ‘death panels’ all across the U.S. this summer. The antidote is more civility where the tone of national politics are set — on the floor of the House of Commons. But all the forces converging there (internal and external, politic and substantive) pull it apart, rather than knitting it together.