A central and contentious problem of politics, the question of who ought to be eligible to vote has been raised countless times with wildly varying answers. The trend in the western world, starting in the 1800s has been to increase the voting class to larger and larger sizes.
This is perhaps most obvious in the example of France, who between 1829 and 1848 increased their electorate from one hundred thousand to roughly eight million. Though they started off with an electorate comprised only of France’s largest land owners, by 1848 any man over twenty-one was granted suffrage. This model was to be mirrored in most of the western world, and by the end of WWI much of Europe had universal suffrage, with countries including Russia and Germany extending the vote to women. Though this trend was not universal in the United States and Canada, due to their systems of states and provinces, by the end of the second world war universal male and female suffrage was the norm in the west, with any semblance of property requirement sent to the dustbin of history.
The question then turned to that of race, with blacks, Asians, aboriginals and other non-whites each making their case to receive suffrage. Of express importance is the political battle waged to bring suffrage to the blacks. In the final years of the 1950s Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia required prospective voters to complete a literacy test before being eligible to vote. In Alabama a twenty page voter competency test had to be completed for voter eligibility. These measures acted as a filter to maintain electoral hygiene, barring those who could not read or did not understand the system they would be voting in from voting. With the rise of the black civil rights movement in the 1960s came the idea that such measures stood in the way of black suffrage, and by 1965 it was set into law that no literacy test, competency test or poll tax could be required to vote. Passed this point, an illiterate man or women with no knowledge of the US government was raised to equality with a land owning political aficionado.
The question then changed again to age. Critics of the war, and veterans alike lamented the fact that an eighteen year old man could die for his country in Vietnam, but could not so much as cast a ballot in a local election. By 1970 the voting age was lowered to eighteen and by constitutional amendment this age was set out as not only the federal age, but as the age for any state election. This roughly brings us to the state of the electorate today, ignoring for sake of clarity the modern drive by democrats and out-going president Barrack Obama to extend the vote to criminal non-citizens.
Today the trend of extending universal suffrage seems to have run up against a brick wall. If you are an of age citizen, of any race, color or creed it is hard to find a place in the west where suffrage has not been granted to you. The next milestone of the progressive voting agenda seems to be to the extension of voting rights to people sixteen and over, but this is a hard sell even to most leftists and attempts have recently failed in Canada. A hold over from the 1960s still remains with the left’s claim that low voter turn out in black communities is the result of racism, and the debate now centers around whether or not a voter should have to show ID when they enter the polls. While the addition of voter ID would stem the tide of illegal voting and in all probability depress the size of the electorate, it is not without reason to fear this doesn’t go far enough.
With each increase in the electorate, each extension of suffrage, it is hard not to feel that “universal suffrage” has become far too universal. Caught up in the democratic spirit and the twentieth century push for overarching equality the vote has no doubt been granted to those who at best have no idea what to do with it and at worst actively use it to undermine their own countries. Though it is often counted amongst the worst of political gaffes, Romney’s declaration that 47% of the electorate, paying no federal income taxes, are forever locked in the hands of the highest bidder, in his case Obama, is true. Were it the case that the United States were a privately owned government, such that some group or family held its assets and were thus committed to its long-term value, this would be of little issue.
As the United States draws its wealth through taxation however, the fact that up to 47% of her population, not counting illegals, are federal free-riders is a grave problem. While it is possible for some outliers to buck the trend, the vast majority of these free-riders will do what all voters do, and vote for what they feel is in their best interest. This means a larger and larger amount of redistribution from those who produce wealth to those who take it. This sort of relationship with the government is not unique to those on welfare or those who find themselves as net takers in redistribution, it can also be found in some of the United States’ largest corporations. In this case the effect is more than two-fold as these voters not only cast their vote in their best interest, often regulatory capture or bailouts, but they use their amassed wealth to pull the mass of largely uninformed voters to their side.
If the voters each understood their political system and had a stake in preventing mass redistribution of wealth this would be a non-issue. The flood of election ads and super PAC spoils would roll off the backs of the electorate with ease. Unfortunately this is not the case, as instead we find ourselves with an American electorate who, if they are even informed enough to know what is being offered, are drawn to vote for whoever gives them the largest payout. This is of course to say nothing of illegal voters who’s ballots are no doubt cast to fuel their usage of the welfare state and a decrease in border security. The government has it’s hands so tightly grasped around the throat of the American economy that any voter would be a fool to not vote for his own interests, lest he end up paying his neighbor’s bills.
Not all issues with our universal suffrage are of an explicitly economic nature, in fact the most serve issues that arise from an uninformed hyper-inclusive electorate are paid not in currency but in societal change and blood. Bleeding hearts and the easily tear-jerked present an especially dangerous prospect for both a nation’s citizens and its military. Images of a dictator’s tight-fisted rule leads to a fruitless war that costs many lives, footage of a starving child sends millions of tax dollars to a despotic foreign regime. These events are common results of the faint hearted’s vote, votes from men and women who see all the problems of the world as something that ought to be fixed with their government’s power. They are guided not by their brains but by their emotions and a set of muhfeelsian logic that allows them to send another man’s child to die so that they may feel better about the world.
Ethnic divides also drive votes in these systems. Blacks are taught to support the candidate who provides their community with the most welfare and Latinos the candidate who is most lax on immigration. New immigrants share this trait with Latinos, out of hope that their friends, family and former countrymen may soon find themselves reunited. While the cost of the bleeding heart’s vote is wasted money and wasted lives, the cost of these foreign ethnic groups and immigrants cut deeper, especially so if they can find a heart string to tug on the former. They bring with them not only their family and their belongings but also their traditions, their world view. Who can say now that Sweden is not forever changed in the wake of mass immigration, are the streets of France and Germany not permanently altered? London provides an example as a growing immigrant population and teary eyed liberals allow Muslim patrols and even a Muslim leader to change the very character of their city. As each of our countries draws more foreigners the divides grow stronger and the visions of what the nation ought to be become vastly different.
This brings us back to that central question which has so oft been raised since the 1800s, who ought to vote? In my own view and under the systems we live in, I struggle to find even a single person to whom suffrage ought to be granted. The businessman will no doubt levy his vote to the detriment of the consumer and other businessman through regulation. The worker will no doubt vote to the detriment of the businessman and the consumer through minimum wages and increased benefits. The politician will vote to extend and ensure his own power and each ethnic division will vote to bring more power and less responsibility into their hands. These systems of centralized control have simply taken too much power and personal responsibility from the citizen to trust any man with the right to influence its ends.
This however is not that tired libertarian plea to cast your vote to the ground rather than for your interests. In fact, given the ever rising stakes as the government continues to centralize and grow in power, your vote is more important than ever. We should cast our votes for our interests, for our family’s interests and for the interest of our people, but if we have any sense at all, we must do all that is in our power to shrink the size of the electorate. We must re-establish electoral hygiene, take from the welfare recipient his vote, from the first generation immigrant his and from those who are illiterate either of the written word or of their country’s history and traditions theirs. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw the expansion of the electorate to sizes that cannot be sustained, with the twenty-first we must either shrink that electorate back down to size, and watch the welfare and racial dispossession shrink with it, or say goodbye not only to the American experiment, but to the reign of the western world itself.