Thursday, October 16, 2008

An Argument For Limiting Who Votes

By Shane Borgess of Political Vindication

I understand what the vote represents - it’s an inalienable right fought for by historically disenfranchised people. But I’ll ask a question not often enough asked: in the important and consequential job that is civil governance, is democracy ultimately the rule of the mediocre? There ought to be little solace in relying on judges and the solemn wisdom our of senators to protect a system that has proven the most free and economically successful in human history. The electorate has, in the long term, the power to change this republican democracy into an oligarchy or worse (democracy being the only form of government that can vote itself into chains), so why ignore that with every election we put our freedom to a vote? Taking this franchise as seriously as it demands - considering the consequences of a seductive idealism driven by envy or ideological hatred - I do believe there ought to be minimal qualifications met to be allowed to influence the direction of this country.

Consider that we don’t allow convicts to vote. Why? It’s not because they aren’t intelligent enough - there are plenty of educated psychopaths. It’s because they have failed a moral test - and we’ve decided that it’s so important that the voter be of sound intellect and firm moral understanding if they are to be a responsible influence on which course this country takes. If we were to insist upon anything less, then the franchise of voting would lose value - it would not lose importance, but the quality of the vote would be diluted. Were we to come to a point in our history (which might be fastly approaching) that our country balances upon a pivot - on one side the yawning chasm of statism and government domination, on the other the challenging terrain of capitalism and individual freedom with all its ugly side effects - could you trust the wisdom of the voter who is bereft of any understanding how freedom survives, and why it should? Especially in these unnerving economic times? It is one thing to insist that the voter know the name of the governor of their state before they cast a ballot, but far more consequential is understanding how important private property is to protecting individual freedom!

Consider the naturalized immigrant. For whatever reason he or she decides to become an American, first we test them so we can be assured that they know our history and understand the importance of the principles we hold dear - self - sufficiency, individualism, respect for religion and why our country has fought so hard for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Who was our first president? Who is our current president? Who won the Civil War and what was the war about? When was the depression, and when did the Cold War end? Then we should add: Explain Communism. Define socialism. Describe capitalism. What happened on 9/11? Could you say with confidence that all American born citizens could pass a simple test like that? What percentage do you think couldn’t? How much of that percentage do you think vote? How many thoughtful votes by those who study the issues and ponder the responsibility our ancestors handed on to us are vetoed by thoughtless voters who pull the lever with no sense of history? At the very least, every American voter should be made to pass the test our newest citizens are forced to study for and pass.

In demanding such a litmus test, we might even get some of these qualified voters to earn a deeper understanding of just how rare America is. It seems such a trivial obstacle if we are serious about the value of the vote and understand the consequences inherent in allowing citizens to rule themselves.

Do we want to bring the poll tax back? No, but having Democrats bus in the mentally disabled and senile so they can assist them in the voting booth seems like confirmation of the fears raised by those who opposed the radical idea that the common man could rule themselves. By allowing such fraud and frivolity we become no different than those that blatantly hack at our foundations with audacious bravado. If we are to compliment the faith our founders put in us, we must take our responsibility far more seriously.

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