Brennan argues that it is disrespectful to call non-voters "free riders" on good governance. Abstention, however, can be an exercise in virtue. The non-voter who recognizes his or her limitations refrains from helping impose bad governance on others.
At the margin, we should lift up commercial innovation and downplay politics. From the standpoint of human flourishing, Steve Jobs unveiling the iPad was more important that Barack Obama's 2010 State of the Union Address.
This is an hour-long video lecture, and it's one of my favorites. Davies, with whom I co-taught at an IHS seminar in 2009, points out that we usually view history through the lenses of power. When people think about "important dates" in history, they think about the dates of battles or elections or assassinations. They don't think about the dates like "when the first Ford car rolled off the assembly line" or "when the shipping container was first used" or "when the iPhone/iPad/whatever was unveiled."
One could argue that the well-informed have a duty to vote because it moves the preferences of the median voter and, therefore, raises the quality of public policy. For the individual, however, I suspect that appreciably moving the median has about the same probability as casting the decisive vote.