Home / "serious" conservative thought / David Harsanyi doesn’t think he should be allowed to vote

David Harsanyi doesn’t think he should be allowed to vote

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A “citizenship civics” test from 1965

The right wing has an ongoing hate affair with anything that resembles democracy. They’re willing allow it when it gets the results they want. When it doesn’t, they try to repackage poll taxes and literacy tests as important components of liberty and freedom.

David Harsanyi starts with a prolonged foot stomp about how stupid and reckless people have stupidly and recklessly done bad things by voting when they don’t fully understand the Constitution, America, the issues or the candidate they support. This is dangerous Harsanyi contends.

At the same time, let’s also remember that checking a box for the candidate whose campaign ads you like best is one of the most overrated obligations of the self-governed. If you have no clue what the hell is going on, you also have a civic duty to avoid subjecting the rest of us to your ignorance.

Unfortunately, we can’t trust you.

Harsanyi and the mouse in his pocket are very displeased with you.

Now, if voting is a consecrated rite of democracy, as liberals often argue, surely society can have certain minimal expectations for those participating. And if citizenship itself is as hallowed as Republicans argue, then surely the prospective voter can be asked to know just as much as the prospective citizen. Let’s give voters a test. The citizenship civics test will do just fine.

The test Harsanyi has in mind has 100 questions. Alabamian racists during Jim Crow called it quits at 68 questions.

But this is different Harsanyi assures the reader who might have a scruple about requiring people to pass a test in order to vote (and also plowed through to the very end of the piece). Because in his fantasy U.S. everyone would have to take the literacy test.

Of course, we also must remember the ugly history of poll taxes and other prejudicial methods that Americans used to deny black citizens their equal right to vote. Any effort to improve the quality of the voting public should ensure that all races, creeds, genders and sexual orientations and people of every socioeconomic background are similarly inhibited from voting when ignorant. For the good of our democratic institutions.

Bonus contrast LOLs – Harsanyi on restrictions on the right to own guns.

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