Get Out the Vote?

19 Jan

There are 118 electoral democracies in the world and all but 11 of them guarantee their citizens the “right to vote” within their nation’s constitution.

In 2005 the United States helped Iraq to write its new constitution which included the declaration that Iraqi citizens, both men and women, would have the right to vote. And now in Afghanistan thanks to the U.S. all citizens are also guaranteed the right to elect and be elected. When the U.S. army occupied Japan after World War II we helped them to write a constitution guaranteeing “Universal adult suffrage” and in Germany after that same war the new German constitution was written to include the phrase, “Any person who has attained the age of 18 shall be entitled to vote.”

By now you probably know where I am going with this…

Amazingly, The United States, is one of those 11 democracies that does not guarantee its citizens the right to vote within its own constitution. When the country was founded, the U.S. Constitution did not define who could vote and only non-Negro men with real property or sufficient wealth for taxation were permitted to vote. Since then several amendments have been ratified which have extended the right to vote to additional groups of U.S. citizens but ironically the United States, while always helping and encouraging new democracies to include the guaranteed right to vote for all citizens in their constitutions, has never adopted an amendment that afforded such a right to its own.

So what’s the big deal? Why doesn’t the United States have a constitutional amendment simply and explicitly guaranteeing all of its citizens the right to vote? Was this a right that our forefathers simply overlooked or was there method in their mistake by accidentally on purpose creating an escape clause that might come in handy someday when say a Congressman’s approval rate was at 12 percent while at the same time their reelection rate was over 90 percent?

How are those statistics in any way shape or form indicative of a democratic and representative form of government?

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down several measures outlined in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, (an act of Congress that at least helped to strengthen and further define U.S. citizen’s rights to vote) freeing states to change their election laws without advance federal approval and effectively allowing individual states to decide what kind of voting rights citizens will and will not have and thus making it even easier for Congressmen to maintain and retain the lifestyles that they have become so accustomed to without having to worry about whether or not the will of the people, whom they are supposedly representing, is being served, let alone being heard.

Thank you Supreme Court! Whose side are you on? These are the same folks who declared corporations people…so I guess they’ve made it pretty clear.

And that leaves only one branch of the government left who might still be on our side: The president…. But in 2000, The Supreme Court stated in Bush v. Gore. “The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States unless and until the state legislature chooses a statewide election as the means to implement its power to appoint members of the Electoral College.”

And what does that mean?

In the United States of America, a citizen’s right to vote is a privilege… which according to Merriam-Webster is: a right or benefit that is given to some people and not to others… and that is simply not right at all. So enjoy it, if you can, while you can, because if 90% of us don’t like the jobs our politicians are doing but 90% of us keep voting them back in then this is a privilege that apparently none of us even deserve!

 

 

5 Responses to “Get Out the Vote?”

  1. A Voice January 19, 2014 at 5:15 am #

    My response to the more strict democracy that is advocated for when everyone is given a vote is that it’s a remarkably poor idea. The notion that every single person meeting only the criterion of not being a felon and legal adulthood invites a very real problem, namely that people remarkably unqualified to shape the state of the country are given permission to do so…sort of. After all, that one vote only counts when there is a deadlock, other than that individual votes are truly meaningless as it is the bulk of votes that make decisions…sort of.

    My real problem with this whole issue is that it’s very clear that there is no meritocracy when it comes to electing officials and that the vast majority are woefully incapable of offering advice on who should be in a position of power (by accident or design, including but not limited to avarice, stupidity, gross lack of information and apathy), a small minority are barely capable of offering advice (I find myself here) and the smallest body yet is truly capable. In this I am in no way advocating for some form of Philosopher-King, I am simply gesturing to the fact that either corrupt people are advocating for positions, the stupid believe they have some real idea, the misinformed and those poorly informed believe they have some real idea and there are those that don’t have fucks to spare.

    Why is casting about in this large pool acceptable or worthy of advocacy? And how can this stand when our education is so poor yet immigrants must take a citizenship test that most (likely including myself) could not pass? This is all horribly incoherent and until we decide to buckle down, treat governance with all due seriousness and have the stones to offend people by demanding they demonstrate real knowledge and care of the issues they vote will affect we ought not advocate universal suffrage.

    Humanity has a history, as a species, of being governed by the people least qualified and for reasons far less than benevolent. We need to right that and it starts with education and care for the well-being of our fellow man. Giving everyone the privilege to vote is not appropriate and neither are bullshit hoops to jump, but a privilege is something voting truly should be.

    As it stands, is our current system functioning adequately? Are we truly represented in our districts? Does it truly look like the well-being of our fellow man is the issue when it comes to governance? No, of course not, and it’s a damn shame.

  2. smilecalm January 19, 2014 at 5:55 am #

    best politicians ever
    that money can buy.

  3. makagutu January 19, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

    I am of the opinion that not everyone should be allowed to vote simply because they are 18 years old. It is a poor way of choosing leaders and many times we are left with people who are unfit for governance as the legislators and presidents!

  4. apoliticalinquiry January 20, 2014 at 3:07 am #

    Love the article and the comments are dead on…

  5. apoliticalinquiry January 20, 2014 at 3:18 am #

    Reblogged this on apolitical.

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