The National Review Says, “Some Voters Are Better Than Others”
I’m still smelling the fear of the GOP in their slew of bills designed to chip away at voting rights. It’s not the first thing I enjoy in the morning, but lately, it’s been hanging around in the air, waiting for a good rain to wash it away. So I had to read this article this morning when I saw it on Twitter, “Why Not Fewer Voters?” from the National Review. It was published just a few days ago so it’s still fresh with the pervasive fear that the GOP could soon be rendered into a permanent minority, despite all their down-ballot wins last year.
I like the subheading, too: “The fact is that voters got us into this mess. Maybe the answer isn’t more voters.” This is a very misleading statement and implication. The fact is, voter turnout had been trending down for decades until Trump turned up. One thing that I liked about Trump is that he managed to expand the scope of debate somewhat. I also liked that he caused so much excitement that we saw record turnouts in two elections that he ran in.
The fact that voter turnout had been trending down for decades suggests that it was not voters who got us into this mess. And the idea that we should have fewer voters to make the country better, harkens back to the days when only the landed people were considered to be smart enough to vote. The entire article from the National Review suggests that some citizens should be excluded from voting, almost as if they deserved to be disenfranchised.
Somehow, a few elite conservatives have got it into their heads that some people are more “equal” than others. Felons should be disenfranchised because they made poor decisions that got them into prison. Kids should not be allowed to vote because they lack the experience required to vote. People who are mentally disabled should be disenfranchised just because they’re slow. I think we can see where this goes. According to the National Review, any old excuse to keep people from voting is good because fewer voters are better than more. They don't seem very specific about where to draw the line.
But there is one line that I see. If a class of people has no say in the determination of their fate, they are ripe for abuse by others who have a say. To me, that seems like the primary motivation for prohibiting any class of people from voting. African Americans were denied the right to vote for centuries, rendering them subject to abuse at the hands of whites. People who have been convicted of crimes have lost the right to vote in many states, rendering them subject to abuse as well. And what about kids? Should they not learn early on to vote? I think that giving kids the right to vote would go a long way towards reducing the abuse kids receive at the hands of their parents.
I wonder if perhaps the author of that article at The National Review, Kevin D. Williamson, was thinking of this fun statistic: About 15% of any given human population will have an IQ of 85 or less. The army won’t take them because they can’t take orders. Which means they probably can’t get a job and hold it. And don’t we often heap abuse upon people who are “slow” or “stupid”? I wonder if Mr. Williamson thinks those people shouldn’t be allowed to vote because they’d make poor decisions.
This supposes the idea that people who make bad decisions shouldn’t vote. Ok, how about the clowns who precipitated the collapse of the housing bubble in 2008? They bought bad loans and bought insurance to cover those loans and then used insider influence to get the government to cover their bad bets when the insurers did not have the funds to pay the claims? Should those very smart and experienced investors have been prohibited from voting? I note with interest that none of them have been prosecuted.
How about the people who were running the government in 2020 and allowed the coronavirus to land in the United States? Remember, there were other epidemics during Obama’s term, and none of them went nuts like this one. Shouldn’t the people who let this coronavirus run wild be prohibited from voting? We’re all going to make mistakes, and we all pay dearly for our mistakes one way or another. If we’re lucky, we live long enough after our mistakes to learn from them.
Who is to say that a once convicted felon hasn’t learned enough to make better decisions at the ballot box? Who is to say that kids who learn to vote from an early age won’t develop a habit of participating in earnest in our democracy? Who is to say that someone with an IQ less than 85 won’t make at least one good decision at the ballot box?
Deciding who should and should not vote seems like a slippery slope to me. I find myself suspicious of the motivations behind the disenfranchisement of anyone. I can’t help but think that the motive to disenfranchise a class of people, to prohibit them from voting, is to escape accountability to the people who can’t vote. It’s clear to me that American aristocrats are diametrically opposed to accountability. And there are still people who believe that abuse of others is an inherited right, that abuse is the way to teach “our lessers” better manners or how to follow the laws. If we’re going to punish someone, we’d better make sure they can’t vote so that they can’t hold us accountable.
So when I see the GOP’s plans to restrict voting rights, I’m thinking that maybe they’d prefer not to be held accountable. With fewer voters, there is less accountability. Better yet, with fewer voters, the GOP could still win elections by appealing to a smaller fraction of voters. And if things go south, they still have the filibuster. They can keep on drawing districts that look like Chinese dragons like they will do this year. For all their complaints about authoritarian governments that are run by oligarchies, the GOP sure seems to mirror their complaints.