A Modest Proposal for the Voting Privilege

Yesterday’s post was a critique of the American electorate. To summarize, I shared my view that far too many voters don’t really know enough to vote intelligently. Their worldview might best be illustrated in this way:

I’d like to extend my remarks today.

The Founding Fathers were concerned about who would be voting. That’s why they only allowed a popular vote for the House, which would serve to represent the people directly. The Senate was to be chosen by state legislatures and the president by special electors, something we now call the Electoral College. This guarded against emotional upheavals instigated by demogogues who could whip up a frenzy with crowds.

In all states, at the beginning of the Republic, there was some kind of property qualification for voting. Nowadays, that is looked upon as archaic and backward. However, there were excellent reasons for that qualification. It kept transients in communities from helping pass laws that they would never have to live under; it also allowed those who paid the taxes, i.e., the property owners, to direct the level of taxation and how the money should be used.

As Jacksonian democracy arose, property qualifications disappeared. Now just being a white male at least twenty-one years old was all that was necessary. The Fifteenth Amendment, passed after the Civil War, extended the franchise to black males, and at the end of WWI, women received the vote as well. Later, in the Vietnam era, the age was lowered to eighteen because young men were being drafted to serve and it only seemed fair to let them vote.

So what does it take to be able to vote now? All you have to do is reach your eighteenth birthday and you qualify.

In an ideal world, here is what I would propose:

  1. If a person pays no income taxes, that person should not be allowed to vote. He or she should not have the power to say how other people’s money is to be used or how much is to be taken. Only those who contribute to the national treasury should be given this privilege. Right now, over 40% of citizens pay no income taxes.
  2. Related to that, no one who lives solely off the government via welfare programs should be allowed to vote. Those on the dole will always vote to continue the dole. When you have a significant minority in this category, their personal interest can sway an election, yet they make no contribution to the tax base at all. Those living on Social Security will be exempt from this restriction; they are not receiving welfare but merely getting back some of the money they’ve been forced to contribute their entire lives to this Ponzi scheme.
  3. I don’t think most eighteen year olds have enough knowledge of governmental principles to be voting. I speak from experience: I didn’t have enough knowledge when I was eighteen, and neither do most of the students I teach at the university. While ideally I would like to see the voting age raised to at least twenty-two, I recognize that many men and women serve in the armed forces at a younger age; therefore, they should have some say in choosing who their representatives and the commander-in-chief will be. Anyone else between eighteen and twenty-two who work and pay taxes should also be allowed to vote. Those in college who are working their way through also should have the vote. However, college students who depend entirely on loans and are not earning enough to pay taxes should wait until they graduate before being granted this privilege.
  4. Everyone should be required to show ID before voting. Democrats fight this all the time, but it’s only right that we police the polls to ensure against voter fraud. There is nothing racial about such a requirement.

Yes, I know there will be objections to a plan such as this, and I freely admit it will never become reality. Recall that I said this is what I would want in an ideal world. That world doesn’t exist. But it would be nice if we would stop and think once in a while and realize that voting is not an inalienable right. It is a privilege granted to those who have met certain qualifications. Perhaps then we would take that privilege and treat it more seriously.