Our Debauched Electorate 1

We don't need more people voting; we need fewer.

As far back as we can recall, every election brings grousing that the two parties are equally corrupt and generally pretty much the same, offering only choices between Lousy and Lousier.  We've made the same complaint ourselves.

That is not likely to be the case this year.  It has become abundantly clear that Obama's Democrats should really be called Social Democrats in the European sense - they openly and unabashedly want a cradle-to-grave Euro-style welfare state, an economy in which the government directly controls the "commanding heights" and indirectly controls everything else, and a nation in which the freedom to do your own thing and be left alone is a dim memory.

As for Republicans - well, alas, there are all too many Republican officeholders who want pretty much the same thing as the Democrats only less so.  Fortunately, if the various special elections, opinion polls, and caucus meetings held thus far are anything to go by, it's hunting season out there for RINOs.

Candidates promising a smaller, less intrusive, more fiscally responsible government will be hailed by glad cries; incumbents proffering "more of the same" will be the targets of rotting vegetables.  The people are angry as they've not been in living memory.

And yet...

While approval ratings for Congress is indeed setting record lows, it's not setting them by much.  In honesty ratings, politicians as a class have hovered somewhere below child molesters and mass murderers for some while now.

Every election, it seems that voters' loathing for the current Congress is digging new depths - then they turn right round and return 90+% of all of the incumbents back to office.  Congress may be a bunch of SOBs, but my Congressman, well, he's my SOB and I like him.  Or so it seems.

Faced with socialism that is no longer creeping but galloping, some on the right ask, when is enough enough?  Our Founders fought an armed revolution against a power less confiscatory of taxes, less intrusive into daily life, and (for modern Alaskans anyway) less physically remote.  Why should we tolerate what they found intolerable?

Scragged has argued that the fundamental driving force behind the American Revolution was not so much a specific tax rate or odious laws as the idea that the people should be represented in whatever body is making those laws. Parliament had members from all across England - but not one from the Colonies.  The fact that some of the Founders were considerably behind on their taxes to the British crown certainly may have motivated individuals, but by itself wasn't enough to start a war; it took an offensive fundamental violation of principles of freedom to do that.

In contrast, no matter how revolting the antics of Nancy Pelosi or questionable the intentions of Barack Obama, they are where they are because we put them there.  You can argue that ACORN and other crooks stole Al Franken his Senate seat; they most assuredly did not do so for the entire leftist majority now in Washington.  Barack Obama won the Presidency fair and square.

The 2008 election was indeed "free and fair" in every way that matters.  Republican activists were not machine-gunned in the streets or whisked off to secret prisons in the dark of night, as is standard practice in Iran.  Opposing talk radio stations were not invaded by armed police and their transmitters smashed, as happens in Russia.

OK, voters at one Philadelphia polling place were intimidated by armed Black Panther thugs who were later protected from jail by political appointees at the Justice Department, but does anybody suggest that McCain would have won in Philly if not for these goons?  Of course not.

It's true that the mainstream media could hardly have been more blatantly biased if they all wore Obama pins.  It's also true that, by and large, Americans are well aware of this and, as media companies' plummeting revenues demonstrate, are seeking their news elsewhere.

What, then, is the problem?  If the election was fair, the campaign was freely conducted, and the far left won anyway, is Obama right when he says a European welfare state is what the people demand?  Would, indeed, the Founders approve, given that he's just obeying the Will of the People?

No.  To find out why, let's take a look at an early American election.

One Man, One Vote?  No Thanks!

Elections in the early United States bore very little resemblance to what we've come to expect to see.  For one thing, there wasn't necessarily a secret ballot, or even a ballot at all; like as not, you'd walk up to the voting desk, announce your name, and then say the candidates you wanted to support.  The clerk would write all this down on a tally sheet.

Your favored candidate might even be present, thank you graciously for the honor of your vote, and reward you with a beer.  George Washington's record of campaign expenses for a (pre-Revolution) legislature seat survives, and the itemized booze would choke a horse.

By current politically correct legend, only white men could vote.  In some parts of the United States, that is perfectly true; but federal ideals were far stronger then than now, and voting practices diverged widely.  New Jersey, for example, required voters to own property, but if you were a single woman or free black fortunate enough to meet that requirement, you were free to cast your vote until 1807.

It's a fact that most early Americans, for one reason or another, were not welcome at the polls.  It's a fact that some of the reasons were morally wrong; why should a person's skin color matter?

The crucial point is that just because some reasons of voter exclusion are wrong does not mean that all are.  Today, there are quite a few Americans who still can't vote: children under 18, felons, and people whom a court has declared incompetent.

This is simple common sense.  We don't expect children to make wise decisions; they tend to be easy to manipulate and don't have a good grasp of the consequences of their choices.  We don't let them drink, smoke, drive, or work in coal mines either.  Same for the mentally retarded or senile.  As for felons, well, they've already been proven in court to have no regard for the common good, why should we care what they think about governance?

Unfortunately, today we have a great many people who are natural-born US citizens, not convicted felons, over the age of 18, and who have not been legally declared incompetent - and yet there's still an obvious screw loose somewhere.  Remember the notorious Peggy Joseph's celebration after Obama's victory?

Because I never thought this day would ever happen. I won't have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won't have to worry about paying my mortgage. You know. If I help [Mr. Obama], he's gonna help me.

Anybody who believes that the government should take care of all their expenses - or even wants it - has no business in a polling booth.  There are a lot more where she came from; Rush Limbaugh recently read reports of people going into doctors' offices expecting to be seen free - since, after all, didn't Obama just pass health care reform?

When you have voters this ignorant and this uninformed, don't be surprised when you get elected Congressmen who worry that overpopulated islands will tip over and capsize.  What is an imbecile like Rep. Johnson doing in a seat of power?  Representing his equally-ignorant constituents?

It's true that Rep. Johnson is suffering from a serious disease which is known to affect the mind.  No disrespect intended to the ill, but wouldn't that be a legitimate reason not to vote for somebody or to have the decency not to run?  Far from it:

The disease, he said, was one of the reasons he decided to run for office in the first place.

The men who set up America's first electoral systems may have had some unfair and discriminatory ideas, but they also had some good and discriminatory ideas.

Like New Jersey, most states had a property requirement to vote; if you were a bum sleeping on a park bench, you had nothing worthwhile to contribute to the body politic.  Why should anyone care about the opinion of someone so manifestly unsuccessful, who had no investment whatsoever in the community, and who could only take rather than contribute?  What a far cry from today, when whole segments of Democratic strategy involve registering the indigent to vote and then dragging them from one polling place to the next!

In America today, we do not have the problem of low voter turnout that our opinionmakers think we do.  We do have problems with voter fraud here and there, but not normally enough to make a difference except in squeaker elections.

What we have is a problem with stupid, ignorant voters who vote without thinking, or don't know how to think.

You Lousy Elitist, You!

By now, you are probably thinking that we must be just as bad as Nancy Pelosi and the rest of our would-be tyrants, who know that They Know Best and the rest of us are just too dumb to realize it.  Not so.  Smart people can be really stupid too, and are wrong more often than not just like anyone else.

In the next article, we'll explore how to square this circle: how to get fewer, better voters, without discriminating against anybody by their political opinions, race, wealth, or any other reason that Americans believe to be unfair.  It can be done, and we'd be better off for it.

The next article in this series discusses the urgent necessity of choosing a qualified electorate.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Politics.
Reader Comments
For a modern day equivalent to land ownership, I personally like that idea that you have to pay more in taxes than you receive back from the government in the form of direct assistance in order to vote.
April 5, 2010 9:31 AM
That is a very good idea, but that alone would not keep government employees from voting for higher taxes to pay them more.
April 5, 2010 6:10 PM
Heinlein suggested voters be military veterans...
I am still confused on RINOs.. was Bush a RINO? Since Republicans advocate federal government interference in our lifestyles (homosexuality & the farce of a drug war, in which Reagan was instrumental), banking & business needs (aka the Patriot act & Sarbanes-Oxley Act), public schools (aka the NCLB) and women's reproductive decisions, doesn't that make them more hypocritical (thus liars) than Democrats, who are openly statist & control freaks?
In Scragged I never notice the anti-establishmentarianism I would think necessary for the people united in Liberty...
April 7, 2010 12:28 AM
irvnx, you need to go digging in the backfiles, when Republicans had some actual power to be criticised for their misuse of.


When Republicans have power again, no doubt we will criticise them once again when they misuse it.
April 7, 2010 8:37 AM
Just allowing a single block like the military vote would not be a good idea. There are many important segments of the population and all of them must be given say.

Farmers, retailers, manufacturers, ect. All of them have different concerns and all of their needs must be redressed by the government.
April 7, 2010 1:17 PM
God forbid Republicans should again have power.. they'll still abuse it, as long as their tenet is freedom takes a back seat to 'security' or moral cowardice is a justification for wars, deficit spending, transfer payments to corporations (aka socialism) and farces like the war on drugs, the war on terror, and the war on American citizens, their businesses, their $$ and their lives.
They had an excellent opportunity to clean up their act.. and like in the 80s, they refused... they are worse than Obama...

April 7, 2010 10:42 PM
Worse than Obama? I would say that. Simply bad in different ways. They all want to control us, its the how that changes.
April 7, 2010 11:11 PM
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