In all the discussions of voter suppression and fraud, there is a fundamental question that never gets asked: are we really better off with more voters? Or more pertinently, are we really better off with indiscriminately more voters? I think not. Consider that almost a quarter of Texans think Obama is a Muslim. From the left, listen to these idiots who are obviously going to support Obama no matter what, and don't understand anything about what is going on. Can anyone say with a straight face that we are better off with these people in the voting booth instead of home on their couch?
To see the point another way, do we not all agree that an informed electorate is essential to democracy? Jefferson thought so. Surely it goes without saying that the more information voters have, the better results we will get? That's what Obama's Google for Government program is all about. Well, it is simply logically impossible to say we're better off with more informed voters and yet not better off with fewer ignorant voters.
Let's be clear here and head off all the knee-jerk assumptions and reactions to my position. This is not about excluding anyone based on race, age, creed, or any other arbitrary criteria. I'm not suggesting poll taxes, tests for eligibility, or anything at all like that. Let's also dismiss the notion that limiting who can vote is somehow anti-American. We already limit who can vote: 17 year olds and felons to name just two groups.
I'm simply saying that once we acknowledge that a higher quality voter makes for a higher quality election, it leads to the inescapable conclusion that all this "get out the vote" effort isn't going to produce much in the way of improved results if it is indiscriminate, or worse yet, disproportionately gets people who don't know what's going on into the system.
In addition, there seems to be a growing mentality in America to vote for the candidate that promises you personally the most advantageous financial or life situation, independent of more country-centered, moral issues. Note all the tax talk - there is very little substance to the arguments against raising taxes. It is simply presented as something that is bad for individuals: He's going to take some of your money, vote for me! Indeed, this was anticipated, I believe by DeTocqueville:
"Democracy can last only so long as it takes the electorate to realize their vote contains the key to the treasury"
In other words, once people realize they can just sit back and vote themselves everyone else's money, the system collapses. This is a real threat with regard to social security, which, with the retirement of the baby boomers, continues to swallow up more and more of our GDP. Yet curtailing this program significantly is political suicide because of groups like AARP, who seem intent on taking as much of everyone else's money as they can. And again to anticipate objections, I have no problem with the social security program in concept. As welfare programs go, there aren't many better places to start than the elderly. But it should be clear that having the recipients of said program having such a huge say in what those benefits are, while producing none of them, is not an optimal situation.
All of this has led me to two conclusions. First, Florida in 2000 got it right by accident. Make the ballots as complicated as is feasible, and toss out those filled out incorrectly. Voting is serious business, and people should treat it that way. If you can't be bothered to pay rapt attention for a few minutes when you are choosing who to give government power in our society, we're all better off without you. If you can't grasp the directions, you can't grasp the issues either, so no great loss. This has the advantage of being completely race, age, and in every other important way, blind.
Second, there should be some financial restriction on voting eligibility tied to receipt of government transfer payments relative to one's taxes. Here I am appealing to basic fairness:
if one didn't contribute to the pie, why should one have a say in how it is divided up? If one is to live by the labor of others, it seems it should be those others who make that decision. And with a nod to Heinlein, I'd make an exception to this rule for those honorably discharged from military or perhaps some other government service.
The details can wait. What I think is important is that we get a more realistic attitude towards voting, who is doing it, who we want doing more of it, and what the consequences of those circumstances are. There is no disputing that we'd all be better off if people who thought Obama was a Muslim, or who would be happy if Obama/Palin won, stayed home on November 4.