Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Voting Rights should be more restricted

I posted the letter below as a separate post, due to its length. In essence, John Adams explains the reasoning of the Founding Fathers in restricting the right to vote to adult male landowners.

While Kids Voting is commonplace now, it is still obvious that they do not have the knowledge and experience to make an informed decision.

It is easy to disagree with his statements regarding women, since it may be claimed that landowners can be similarly preoccupied with working to survive in the same way that women could be preoccupied with nurturing children. I don't think we should restrict the right of women to vote. But, it is interesting to note the number of women who demonstrate, or even publicly state, that they will vote however their husband or boyfriend tells them to. Obviously this does not apply to all women, and could apply to some men. It is simply more prevalent in women.

While it may not be appropriate, at this point, to remove the right to vote from all who don't own real estate, it does make sense to require that they follow an additional process to gain the right to vote. If a person cannot show enough initiative to either acquire and maintain property or follow an established procedure to gain the right to vote, they will certainly not take the initiative to become informed on the issues. The mainstream media loves the "motor voter" type bills, because they control the prime source of information for those that don't do personal research. In an America that followed the understanding of the founding fathers, there would be a test to gain the right to vote, just as there is a test to gain the right to drive.

Alexander Hamilton 1775

[The classic argument for limiting voting rights to adult males who own property: so that voters are excluded who are dependent on the wills of others for their livelihood. — TGW]

[Hamilton is quoting Blackstone’s Commentaries, bk. 1, ch. 2:]

"If it were probable that every man would give his vote freely, and without influence of any kind, then, upon the true theory and genuine principles of liberty, every member of the community, however poor, should have a vote… But since that can hardly be expected, in persons of indigent fortunes, or such as are under the immediate dominion of others, all popular states have been obliged to establish certain qualifications, whereby, some who are suspected to have no will of their own, are excluded from voting; in order to set other individuals, whose wills may be supposed independent, more thoroughly upon a level with each other."

-- From http://www.vindicatingthefounders.com


Kimberly said...

I happened upon your article while doing some research for my government class. I wanted to give my students something to 'chew' on about our rights to vote and if everyone should be allowed to vote. You were eloquent and informative, and I will be reading your blog to the class this week! Thank you for your well thought out words.

DRG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DRG said...

The error in your argument, and that of some of the founders lies in the false equivalent between diligence of thought in evaluating ballot decisions and diligence in matters of finance. Arbitrarily predicting an individuals ability to thoughtfully evaluate a question of electoral action based on a single financial outcome is not thoughtful or within the spirit of republicanism.

The basis of American republicanism as developed in the framework of our founding documents and Constitution is power derived from "the people." Limiting that source of power to a class of people would effectively alter our form of government to an oligarchy.

Furthermore, a significant flaw resides in the fact that the line defining the "qualified class" can be arbitrary argued at any level the aspirant ruling class finds self serving.

For instance one might argue property ownership is the true measure of someone with the faculties and responsibility to participate in the weighty considerations undertaken by the electoral process.

Others might argue that a property owner with a mortgage who has failed to make a payment on time has revealed a flaw in their individual responsibility or decision making processes, therefore, only those who have purchased property and have successfully paid all mortgages or loans in full without lapse or lateness posses the proper faculties and responsibility.

Yet, others may argue that although property ownership demonstrates responsibility, it does not demonstrate intellect (faculties) to properly evaluate complex issues. Therefore, only business owners or those employed at some level of management should be allowed suffrage, because only those who's decision making is subject to objective and regular evaluation has proved to posses the faculties to consider the important issues presented in the electoral process.

How do you prove which is the true measure of intellect and responsibility? More importantly, why should there be a measure? Is it a virtuous form of governance that would allow its people to be ruled without a voice to influence those individuals and the laws that would serve to rule them?