Friday, September 19, 2008

Voting is not intrinsically good

The other day I did a post on the fact that there are many things that our society treats as things intrinsically good which are only relatively good. The post was ultimately about prayer, but I pointed out that reading is another thing that is treated as good in and of itself, regardless of what a person happens to be reading. This, of course, is false (otherwise, why would the popes have thought it good to institute an Index of Forbidden Books?).

But perhaps the biggest thing that Americans hold to be good in and of itself and at all times is voting. "Regardless of which candidate you support, the important thing is that you get out there and exercise your right to vote." Why is that so important? There are so many tired old canards about voting repeated ad nauseam in this country that I am shocked that anybody still says them, much less believes them.

"Voting is a sacred right. Our forefathers fought and died so that we could have the right to vote."

What exactly does this refer to? Which forefathers? Are you talking about the American Revolution? We had elected our leaders for a long time before the Revolution, and before the Revolution, people had a keener sense of the importance of local government, as well. In fact, I'd say people had a much better understanding of and participation in the democratic process prior to the American Revolution. Our forefathers of 1776 certainly weren't fighting for the right to vote.

Was it those who fought in the War of 1812? I don't think so; that was about stopping British impressment and (in a sloppy sort of way) about conquering Canada. The Mexican War? Nope, voting wasn't on the line there, either? Perhaps the Civil War? Only if you were black could this apply to the Civil War I suppose, but even in that war, nobody was fighting over a right to vote. Freeing the slaves wasn't even contemplated until half way through. World War I wasn't about the right to vote. Yes, I know Germany and the central powers were monarchies, but they all had elected bodies as well, and realistically it takes a person completely ignorant of history to think that the United States proper was ever threatened in World War II. Germany couldn't even get more than a little way in to France and they were going to conquer America? Give me a break.

I would say the case is a little stronger in World War II that we were "fighting to keep our democracy." But it can (and has) been argued that there was never much of a chance that Hitler could have actually invaded the United States, especially after 1942. Goering wanted to bomb New York, but nobody seriously talked of an invasion of America, and contrary to popular belief, Hitler was not out to "conquer the world."

Korea? Vietnam? One of the dozens of measly little conflicts of the Reagan or Clinton eras? Where are these wars that were fought so that we'd have the right to vote? The fact is that no war was ever fought to preserve Americans' right to vote.

"The important thing is that you exercise your right to vote, regardless of who you vote for."

That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard! Of course it matters who you vote for! That's the whole purpose of voting is to be able to vote in somebody! There's no intrinsic value in voting itself that is automatically virtuous! This line about "the important thing is that you exercise your right" is a line used by liberals because they know that the larger the franchise, the more likely it is that they will get into power. Why? Because the more prisoners, illegal immigrants and other down-and-out, uneducated people they can grant the power to vote to, the greater chance there is that they will swallow their insane agenda.

I'll tell you something: I hope more people stay home on election day. I honestly do. Why? Because I think most people are too incompetent to vote, and that you ought not to be allowed to have a say in how the country is run unless you have a stake in the welfare of the country. This was the original idea behind property qualifications for eligible voters: if you owned no property, you were not trusted to vote in the best interests of the country but only out of self-interest.

But that aside, the fact remains that we are fully capable of exercising our right to vote to elect an evil person to the highest office in the land. If the majority of people will be swayed by evil, then I hope they stay home. Turning out en masse to vote for someone who promotes evil is not a good. It is good, as the Catechism says, that people be allowed to participate in the political process. But, as well all know, democracy is only good insofar as the people doing the electing (and the elected) are themselves committed to goodness and morality. As soon as that is no longer the case, voting no longer is universally good, but derives its goodness (or badness) from the person you are voting for.

I would be in favor of greatly restricting the franchise in this country. Isn't it a rule of thumb in business and administration that the more people you involve in decision making the bigger the mess you wind up with?

Please click here to read Part II of this post in which I answer common objections to these ideas!


Clavem Abyssi said...

This is exactly why I prefer a good, strong monarchy with a tasteful and decent king who has some knowledge of theology and geometry, as well as a Rich Inner Life.

All kidding aside: how do you respond to the claim that you cannot complain about the actions of the elected government if you did not vote? It makes a bit of sense to me.

Anonymous said...

I should be delighted to know what criteria you would propose to determine voter competence. Suppose, for example, only citizens who have completed post-graduate studies were allowed to vote. I think the outcome of the upcoming presidential election would be quite clear in that case. And if that is not a good criterion, would you instead require a minimum income?

Jeremy said...

This reminds me of my government professor in college. He basically said that getting everybody to vote is stupid and if you're a moron I don't want you to vote because you'll probably vote for the wrong person and cancel out my vote because you are such a moron.

Good stuff.

hesiodos said...

I like Heinlein's suggestion of limiting the franchise to veterans. Perhaps not allowing those on welfare to vote would be good.

Anonymous said...

"[...] World War II. Germany couldn't even get more than a little way in to France and they were going to conquer America? Give me a break."
Watcha talkin' bout? Germany took over France in a couple of days.

BONIFACE said...

Sure, but they only took the northern half of the country and never were able to subdue the south.