Friday, September 02, 2011

Conservative Antipathy to Democracy

It's hard to believe that in the supposedly modern, enlightened era we live in, where exclusion of the individual citizen in determining the government authority to which he must submit himself, irrespective of socioeconomic status is considered barbaric elitism, we still have many conservatives who believe in earnest that some folks aren't worthy of participating in the process of selecting their government. For instance, read this piece by Matthew Vadum, titled "Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American." Vadum starts off his piece accordingly:

Why are left-wing activist groups so keen on registering the poor to vote?

Because they know the poor can be counted on to vote themselves more benefits by electing redistributionist politicians. Welfare recipients are particularly open to demagoguery and bribery.

Registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country -- which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.
I started to think this guy was a fringe lunatic elitist of the rightwing reactionary conservative movement, but then I read some of the comments left by others on the article. Imagine my shock to see commenters writing in earnest such nonsense as this:
Commenter "LuciusSeverusPertinax" writes: "For many years I have held that persons should give up their right to vote as a price for accepting the public dole.
Allowing such individuals to vote necessarily corrupts the entire political system; as such persons will always be depended upon to cast their ballots for whoever promises them the most largesse from the public purse.
In such circumstances, elections become auctions."

Commenter "pavan" writes: "From when the Constitution was written until about 1850, only white male property owners could vote. After 1870, former slaves could vote. Then in 1920 we had woman suffrage. In the 1960s, it became illegal to require voters to be literate. The motor voter law was passed in 1995. In 2008 it became de facto legal for Black Panthers to intimidate voters at the polls. Is anyone noticing a trend here? When the country started, voting was restricted to citizens who had a financial stake in small government. Now anyone with a pulse can vote. Eventually, you might have to fight your way into the polling place through a gauntlet of government dependents who will decide if you look like someone who will support big government candidates."

Commenter "Questioning" writes: "I've yet to hear a reasoned, factually based argument against property (or at least taxpaying) rights to vote. Simple, you don't work and pay taxes, you have no right to vote. As far as I can reason, this is the ONLY way for a representative republic to withstand the depredations of the poor citizen."

Commenter "Wayward Son" writes: "Great article, thanks for posting it, AT! I've said all along we need LESS people voting. The conservatives should push for poll taxes (if you're not willing or able to pay, then you probably are not willing or able to be informed enough to vote), increase the voting age to 21, no voting for anyone who has received government assistance in the past year, and no sufferage for anyone who cannot read. One person one vote is a recipe for political suicide and the Communist's dream."
And it goes on and on and on in this vein. Does it really need to be said that what these people are advocating is to implement a system that benefits them at the expense of their fellow citizens? Don't these nimrods understand that they are advocating less freedom for more people? I just frankly can't believe that such people even exist in our country, much less that they fashion themselves to be the true harbingers and preservers of American ideas of liberty and government of the people, by the people, and for the people.


Anonymous said...

Wow, these are some despicable comments.

Eric said...

I'm admittedly torn on this one.

I concede that people who live under a system of government should have a voice in that government in order to be properly bound to the social contract. However, when that voice is amassed in such a way as for the non-productive to form a mob and take things away from the productive (by the way, this includes Presidents at failed investment firms) for their own benefit, it's really no different than if a dictator were to arise and do the same thing. Democracy's virtues have failed us at that point, and an unravelling of the social contract they were designed to protect cannot be far behind.

So while I wouldn't disenfranchise voters based on their income or productivity, I don't think a democracy (whether it be a republic in nature or not) is ultimately a sustainable form of government as long as the "public good" can be construed to mean "giving cash to people who have done nothing to earn it" (again, investment bankers included). Because at some point MOST people are going to be down on their luck, and the lure of a guilt-free government teat to suckle is just too appealing to too many people.

So under our current system I believe it is a lose-lose situation, but if I were designing a government from the ground up, I think you have to either have Constitutional limits on the ability of the government to redistribute wealth (either by eliminating income tax or making it completely regressive, where everyone is expected to pay the same dollar amount regardless of income), or else you have to develop a system where some votes carry more weight than others. A healthy person who cannot find work and is forced to live off government assistance should still get a vote, but sorry, given the power their vote carries, it shouldn't count as much the person who is being taxed to provide an income for them.