Who Should Have the Right to Vote?

Who Should Have the Right to Vote?:















Everyone shouldn’t have the right to vote. There’s that one controversial opening sentence that some say is required to draw a reader in. Yet there’s nothing at all controversial about that statement. From an ethical point of view, it’s a true statement once one considers the dangers of allowing anyone to vote. There are glaring issues in continuing to bestow this right on anyone who is 18 or older.

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In all seriousness, here’s a passage from the piece.

Imagine the elitism, the snobbery, the condescending mindset of the writer. How much better they are than you.

I say ol’ chap is that a white, working class voter who couldn’t afford hundreds of thousands of dollars to be indoctrinated at a Leftist university? And he is Christian!? I will not stand for this!

And where exactly is your well-articulated criticism? All I see here is an accusation of snobbery and elitism (i.e., ad hominem) (boy, you people can’t reason today huh!?), an underhanded way of admitting that yes, I’m smarter than you are and can articulate my position better than you. Gifs and one-liners might work on Tumblr, generally speaking, but it won’t work to push back against an idea like the one I suggested. A White, working class voter doesn’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend college. Ever heard of scholarships? Grants? Financial Aid? “Indoctrinated” at a Leftist university? Because suddenly they can’t choose to go to a Christian university that, at the very least, helps them to articulate their positions better? 

Here’s the thing, I know a number of such Christians and not surprisingly, they aren’t the “abortion is murder,” “god hates fags,” “ban the Muslims” sort of folks. Go figure! I wonder what’s the difference between them and the Bible Belt idiot that gets to make a decision that affects millions of other people. I’m not a Christian by the way; I’m far from one. 

What a shame you use a gift showing an actress that’s far more intelligent than you are, one that, should she disagree with me, would articulate her reasoning much better than you have. She’s also college educated, so perhaps there’s nothing curious about that coming from someone who thinks there’s a such thing as “Leftist universities” that “indoctrinate” people after they spend “thousands of dollars” out of their own pockets. If this is how you disagree, you don’t deserve to vote! Thanks for being a good example of the kind of person I’m looking to exclude from the voting process. I’m definitely an elite and I’ll be as snob as I like once I’m accused of it for no good reason at all. Never mind that your snippet from my post contains important hyperlinks. My my! How you overlook details to make a failed point. 

It feels so good to read this in conjunction with the original post.

Oh, and to be clear, no one has a right to vote. It is a privilege, and no one deserves it.

It is not ad hominem to say you are a caricature of Leftism elitism and snobbery, as you admit. It is factual. Whether or not it hurts your feelings is beside the point.

@philosophycorner are we also stripping the right to vote from non-whites who have not completed a degree program too? I mean, since they’re uneducated as well, they clearly aren’t smart enough to decide policy or vote for representatives.

I can’t actually think of a single fucking post on this site that has made me more furious than this one. How does someone get to the point where they not only hold these views, but think they are moral ethical and intelligent?

How very fucking appropriate that OP has Socrates as his profile pic.

Read the post. Read the discussion. Tell me how allowing “god hates fags,” “ban the Muslims,” “they’re trying to take our guns” folks to vote away does any good for millions of other people. The fact is that such beliefs are immoral and destructive, and this is demonstrable the world over. Think abortion!

Let’s do it their way. Let’s ban abortion! You know what happens? Survey countries that have actually done that. Women die. Poverty persists. The mental and physical health of children is worse. That’s what happens. If women can’t do it legally and safely, they find other ways and the results are disastrous. In turn, they may fail to abort an unwanted pregnancy and now they have yet another mouth to feed despite the fact that they’re poor. Given poverty, children are eating less healthy foods, have less access to healthcare, and due to that, they are generally unhealthier than children who have affluent parents. You may scream “protection, contraception!,” and overlook the fact that they live in highly religious countries that equate abortion and contraception. “If it’s god will for her to get pregnant, then she must give birth!” It’s the Catholic way in the Philippines and some Hispanic countries. 

Let’s let them keep their guns! We have so far. What happens? Shootings at schools, at churches, at theaters. Please tell me why an ordinary citizen needs an AR-15. Give me good reasons for why you think like you do.

My reasons for wanting to exclude those people from the voting process are entirely moral and despite your anger, you can’t prove that wrong. Tell me how the people who despise the kneeling protests during the national anthem aren’t exactly like dissenters of the Civil Rights Movement. Tell me how their apathy towards racial injustice doesn’t result in more police brutality and sexual assaults. Tell me how their voting in of candidates who overlook such injustice doesn’t amount to that blood being on their hands.

Now tell me if you wouldn’t want to exclude me from the voting process if I overlooked the fact that the candidates I vote for don’t care about your life and that voting them in might lead to you losing your life or going through unnecessary pain. While you overlook racial inequality and injustice, I realize that I’m not White and that because of that, I can be a victim of police brutality – even if I’m innocent. You can either go right ahead and prove your lack of empathy or change your mind and realize that despite your initial misgivings, my reasons are demonstrably moral, certainly more moral than you’ve given them credit for.

Government is not a moral system. It’s not trying to be. It’s trying to represent the interests of the people, regardless of what those interests are or if they happen to be immoral in your opinion. As soon as representatives try to do anything but follow the whims of their constituents, then the government has lost all legitimacy and it’s raison d’être.

Perhaps, but if the government isn’t a moral system, then why have it? If it resorts to apathy when lives are at stake, then why have it? And not lives willingly offered for the good of the country, like the lives of our Troops, but rather, the lives of ordinary citizens whose lives were cut short by a man with an AR-15. What good is an immoral government? How then are we any different from a dictatorship? How is this democracy then better than a Communist regime? Do you not see how you’ve dug yourself into quicksand?

Hey, I’m super sorry to jump in, but you know that Communist regimes were actively trying to put the idea of a moral government into practice, right? A big component of Marxism-Leninism is a state that adequately provides for the people and protects them from exploitation until the people are ready to protect itself: the party rules in the name and interests of the proletariat. The entire reason they have a one-party state is for the selfsame reason you want to prevent certain people from voting–they fear what would happen if people who didn’t respect human rights got into government.* Those regimes were trying to be as moral as possible, and just like you, they’ve found that there are some people who stand in the way of progress.

Now, it’s clear that we have different stances on communism, but you have to understand how your line of thinking is exactly the line of thought that led those regimes to do what they did.

*Many of these governments didn’t respect human rights, of course, and they deserve to be condemned for that, but that’s what ideologically they were committed to do: it’s much more a failure in practice than a failure in intention. And they did do some good: Communist governments vaccinated children by the millions, legalized abortion as early as 1920, openly advocated for women’s rights and racial equality, and eliminated malnutrition in Cuba entirely. While we can’t ignore the atrocities they’ve committed (of which there are many), many of these abuses pale in comparison to those committed by Western “democracies”, and the fact that only Communist regimes are have to account for their sins (though rightfully so) is misleading and dangerous.

No reason to apologize! This is a great response and the brief history lesson on its own is of great value. What you’ve shown is that absolute power corrupts absolutely. A government can start out with every moral intent and go astray. I can start out with an arguably moral idea and lose my way. This has happened and I’m not at all immune to human shortcomings. That, however, shouldn’t stop us from trying. Also, I’m not trying to be at the helm of the government or even of the very process I’ve offered – and certainly not alone lacking in collaborators and people who can provide checks and balances to my authority. In a sense, people who have chimed in have done so by pointing out that I can’t stop simply at the uneducated. Though I didn’t intend to do that, they’re not wrong. There are allies who have no college education and who can articulate well enough to pass such an exam. 

The point here is empathy and the capacity to think critically. So I want to exclude people who have no grasp of the pertinent issues and who vote on the basis of hatred and/or tribal thinking. “Vote the party,” “god hates fags” sort of people have no business deciding for millions of other people.

In any case, you’ve added value to the discussion and you’re absolutely right that Communist regimes are held more accountable than democracies like the US. I like that you put that in quotes by the way! The US has no such democracy; it’s a sham. The People don’t have real power. Corporations and big money lobbyists have surpassed the People in power and influence, and it’s a damn shame, and it’s high time we hold this government accountable.

Thanks for your response! I really appreciate it!

I get where you’re coming from. But I think there are still some dangerous points to what you’re saying:

1) The idea of a “critical thinking/empathy” test is really sketchy: this concept has been used as a tool of voter suppression before, in the form of literacy tests in the South. The fact that you said this test requires you to be “articulate” smacks of old-school classism and racism, especially with the historical connotation around that word. At a certain level, eloquence and ease in communication is learned, and so is the sort of critical thinking that would  cater to the academics who would design it: even if it’s not explicitly targeting the uneducated, it’s going to be used to do that anyway. The fact that a few will pass is irrelevant, especially when you consider that many wealthy bigots and idiots are going to pass easily. 

2) And therein lies the real problem–the issue isn’t the exploited poor, the issue is the wealthy people who con them. The poor whites who voted for Trump had reasons to hate the Clintons and the Democrats: Obama’s policies were almost identical to Bush’s, failing to take any real action against Wall Street or the people in government who let it happen. Trump just turned their economic desperation against the wrong targets (e.g. people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+ people). Yes, these people have disgusting beliefs, but they’re not the problem–the problem, like you said, is the capitalist class which impoverishes them to the point where they’re desperate enough that fascists can exploit their biases. Stopping these people from voting won’t stop the wealthy from doing what they’ve always done, especially considering that the Democrats are as bought and sold as the Republicans (and you probably wouldn’t get the rich bigots, because they know how to play the game, and they make the rules anyway.) To stop this, we have to stop the system itself, not slap a band-aid on the problem. I’m willing to bet that fewer people would care about immigrants stealing their jobs if your worth wasn’t measured by your economic success in the first place. (Of course, white supremacy will still be a problem, but racism as we know it today was invented by capitalists to divide the working class. You have to start somewhere.)

Sorry again to bother you!

You’re not at all a bother! You’re respectful and insightful and a marquee example of how to disagree politely and correctly. An interesting observation before I make some suggestions about what you’ve offered.

I had this conversation earlier in the week on Facebook. Interestingly, many on the Left don’t like the idea and it feels wrong to them. It’s interesting that the discussion took a similar trajectory with one person eventually condemning capitalism and labeling it the real problem. It’s interesting in a discussion about determinism. Is a discussion of this sort meant to take the same shape? Will it always follow the path of rude interlocutors followed by more thoughtful insights and ultimately, an indictment of capitalism? Is that perhaps the observation we are supposed to make in order to motion against the issues we face? I can’t be sure, but it’s interesting.

1) I understand that literacy tests in the past were used to oppress Blacks and were designed to “prove” that Blacks are less articulate and less educated or knowledgeable. Of course that’s classist and racist in every respect, and that’s not what I’m suggesting here. I’m Latino. By a racist’s estimation, I’m supposed to speak in a heavy accent, speak mostly in Spanish, and display little to no ability to articulate my opinions. Yet here I am. I have plenty of faith in my fellow minorities to do the same. Unfortunately, some won’t be able to due to lack of education, knowledge, or even care. Some people can’t be bothered with politics. Some Whites will fall in this category as well. Poverty affects them as well; let’s not forget that the majority of welfare recipients are White.

Also, I’m not sure wealthy and White bigots will play the system and pass. Recall the nature of the test I suggested. Can they defend owning an AR-15? Can they also oppose owning it? Can they address the slippery slope that’s implied in the right to bear arms? Where do we draw the line? Being affluent and even highly educated might not make a rich bigot more equipped to handle such questions with any respectful coherence. The questions would be designed to make people think clearly about their own views and values in addition to the views and values of their opponents.

2) Like the commenter on Facebook, you propose a top-down dynamic between the rich exploiting the poor and uneducated by appealing to deeply held anger and prejudices. You’re absolutely right that Obama didn’t go after Wall Street. Hillary wouldn’t have either and it’s one reason I didn’t vote for her. I didn’t vote Trump either. 

Your proposal is great, but it’s also the path of greatest resistance. Can we really go after the system as a whole? The rich and powerful have all the resources. It’s conceivable that some of them are tracking our very discussion to see if we can come up with some strategy to revolutionize the government. 

I have little faith that we can go after the system. Mobilizing the numbers needed to enact such change is nearly impossible. The political divide in our country has made it an exercise in herding cats. Never mind that getting people to abandon their posts at work and school and with their families is a lot to ask. We would also be asking them to risk their lives because it’s a major scale of protest. So we are absolutely obligated to start small! If we can’t go after the Trumps of the world by gutting capitalism and replacing the system with something that works better, we need to to go after their lifeline. That lifeline is the constituents that vote them in election after election. We can’t continue with this tit for tat. Look at the trend!

Bush Sr. then Clinton then Bush Jr. then Obama and now Trump. A democrat will no doubt win in 2020 or 2024 and thus, continue the cycle of the two major parties basically exchanging the highest elected office in this country. Congress is the same! The Republican majority will be replaced by a Democratic majority; that cycle will repeat itself. We’ll be long dead and this tit for tat will continue. The polarization we see among American citizens plays precisely into the hands of this country’s politicians. They want to give the People the impression that they’re as divided, but as you suggested, the point is to keep their money safe and empower Wall Street and lobbyists who can fund their agendas. It’s precisely the special interests Bernie Sanders was so concerned about; it’s why he went after the Citizens United decision.

So yes, I agree with you. I know what the real problem is, but it’s considerably a bigger fish! We can’t go after the rich and powerful, the people resourceful enough to watch our every move should we think of a large scale revolution of the sort. So we fry the smaller fish, their pipeline, their most abundant resource, namely the ignorant one-issue, hateful voters that continue to vote them in despite it being the proverbial shot in the foot. If only the non-college White realized and/or accepted that they have more in common with the inner city minorities than not. 

In trying to conjure up a nice image to get my point across, I couldn’t think of anything other than a man on stilts. If you wish to topple the man on stilts, would you start at the top? Or would you go after his stilts? Those in power exploit the ignorance of their supporters; those are the stilts they stand on. Starting at the top is a path much harder than going after the stilts. 

I’d love to hear what you think about this.

fascinating discussion on an important topic

Keep in mind: green papers like this one are meant to push us to think differently and question our assumptions. They’re meant to be problematic and push an extreme view so that we can engage critically with the subject matter. They’re not meant to be policy papers to be acted upon; that’s what white papers are for…

Therefore, think long and hard, and challenge your assumptions before attacking this superficially and emotionally. It’s okay to have an emotional reaction, but you also have to stop and think about why you’re reacting the way you are

Someone who gets it! Thank you. I knew it was a controversial topic and I totally expected “vile” and “disgusting,” but certainly not “I’d shoot this fucker.” I don’t feel bad though. Though there have been quite a few rude dissenters, people have offered wonderful insights. The point of this blog is to generate discussions on relatable and sometimes controversial topics. From that perspective, I’ve succeeded even if it meant stirring up some anger.