Friday, April 2, 2010

Who...really...should have the right to Vote?

Had a number of conversations recently about election results and why they turn out the way they do.There were no "light bulb" moments, but it started me thinking about our current national position that every adult, not convicted of a felony, has the right to vote.

I start with a question: Does this standard serve, support and protect the United States of America as a free democratic republic?

For the sake of this discussion, my answer is, "No."

Here is my reasoning. If the vote is "free", that is, your choice does not cost anything, then your vote will be more emotional than it is logical; it will be more self-serving than balanced; it will be ill-thought-through, because it doesn't cost, no risk, no consequences of note. I think a more logical position is that you must have a financial stake, an "ante" to put it in Poker terms, in the matter in order to vote. You should be a property owner, or a renter, or a tax-paying wage earner in order to vote...these requirements all in addition to a basic literacy test. Along with these requirements, I would require all rental leases to be Net, Net...that is, your rent would show the amount of your rent that pays Property Taxes separate from the rent that goes into the pocket of the Landlord, AND you would get to deduct that property tax on your tax returns. To vote, you would need to show a copy of your last years tax return proving that you have a "stake" in the outcome.

Those who are receiving government subsidies (welfare, grants of any kind, food stamps, etc.) would be ineligible to vote. After all, they have proven themselves unable, through bad luck or bad choices, to manage their own lives so as to at least break even so how can they be trusted to help make choices about running the country at any level?

This disability to vote is removed if and when they again become stake-holders who are positively contributing in the work force and helping to shoulder the cost of government.

OK...that is my reasoning. I do not declare it to be an ultimate answer or position, but to me it holds the promise of offering us the opportunity to get government that is selected on a balance of what we want and what we can afford, getting away from the efficacy of the "free lunch" promise that seems to have become so effective in electing officeholders for the past 30 years. But I would enjoy seeing criticisms that offer better ways of solving our present problem. What do you folks think?

(And lets stay away, for now, from the response that "we just can't change it." First we need a thorough discussion about what change might be beneficial before thinking about how, if at all, to get it done. Clearly if we can't arrive an a consensus about something that would be better, there is no reason at all to consider how to implement it.)

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