In a recent opinion U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos called the Texas Voter ID law “[an] unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.” The statement echoes progressives’ attempts compare voter ID laws to poll taxes meant to disenfranchise minorities and the poor. The law in Texas was later upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The history of voting rights in the U.S. is contentious. Constitutional amendments clearly define that a person cannot be denied the vote based on certain criteria, but is there a right to vote? The answer appears to be “no,” since many states prohibit felons from voting, and certainly the court’s ruling in Texas confirms that voting is a privilege.
Winston Churchill once quipped, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” It’s clear that progressives and activist judges are aggressively pushing for a purely democratic electoral process that allows anyone and everyone to cast a ballot. Progressivism is inevitable, so to remedy the situation the answer is not to enact laws to prohibit voting but rather to make voting simply too difficult for the uninformed.
Step #1 Eliminate Political Parties
I was once of the mind that we should have many political parties. There’s always been a lot of talk about the problems created by the two-party stranglehold in the U.S. It’s easy to see how some might think that getting more parties involved is a solution. By giving more parties a voice we increase the market of ideas; more choices means more discussion. The argument for more parties fails to address a major problem of human nature, though—reliance on labels.
Browse any political forum, any comments section, and you’ll undoubtedly find someone complaining about the “Repulicons” or the “Democraps.” The conversation shifts from any substantive discussion and becomes a childish exchange of tired portmanteaus. The recent pop in membership of the Libertarian party quickly earned them the moniker “Libertards.” This is childish.
The ignorant and uninformed don’t have time to learn about a candidate’s stance on issues or whether or not they even agree with the candidate. What they need are labels that can quickly and easily tell them which box to tick in the voting booth. By eliminating parties, you remove the party affiliate letter next to each candidate’s name on the ballot. You eliminate associative labeling. If there were no political parties voters would be forced to educate themselves about candidates or risk being completely confused at the polls.
The initial downside is that many politicians have already built a brand and the voting public might remember that a candidate was a “Republicon.” In the long run, though, as career politicians pass on, candidates would have to stand purely on their platform and not on the association of their political party. The voter would have to educate himself about where a candidate stands on the issues. This situation benefits all. It encourages greater transparency from the candidate, and it requires that the voter be informed.
Step #2 Enforce Strict Rules for Campaign Advertising
You’ve no doubt heard a lot of fuss about campaign contributions. There’s been genuine concern from all sides of the political spectrum about wealthy donors and lobbyists influencing elections with large infusions of cash. In April of 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down long standing campaign donation limits. Justice John Roberts wrote of the decision:
There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders. We have made clear that Congress may not regulate contributions simply to reduce the amount of money in politics, or to restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others.
With all the bickering over campaign funding, sleazy ads, and misinformation, I think it’s important to raise the question of whether money is the problem.
First let’s determine where all those campaign donations are going. The Washington Post reported that in the 2012 election Mitt Romney spent 492 million dollars on television advertising with 91 percent of those ads being negative. Barack Obama spent 404 million dollars on television advertising with 85 percent of those ads being negative. That’s roughly 791 million dollars being spent towards caustic advertising on the idiot box. These aren’t ads explaining a candidate’s platform but rather vindictively attacking the opponent. These ads are addressing the lowest common denominator.
Political advertising should be limited to print. If you aren’t ready to read about the issues, you aren’t ready to vote. If advertising were limited to print much less money would need to be raised, thus we avoid the concerns raised by lavish campaign donations.
Limiting advertising to print helps keep advertising clean since you’re eliminating the ability to make your opponent look like shit with slick editing. Deliberately misquoting an opponent comes with serious legal penalties under libel statutes. Best of all you’re reaching out to those invested enough in the electoral process to actually take the time to read.
Of course none of this keeps activists and evangelists from advising their followers on voting, but it does limit the audience. Limiting ads to print requires more effort to reach a conclusion, it does a good job of eliminating appeals to emotion.
Step #3 Make it Easier for People to Vote
At first blush this may sound counter intuitive, but consider that voting has become a “game day” event. There’s a mystique to voting. Activists groups, churches and social clubs have made it a priority to get as many people as they can to the polls. Many of these people would have no interest in voting otherwise. I don’t have to tell you that these groups are influencing voting decisions. If we take the burden out of casting the actual vote we eliminate the need for these advocacy groups and we lessen their influence on election results.
Making it easier to vote by using online or telephone balloting might also address a lot of the concerns with voter ID fraud. Every registered voter is issued a voter ID card every year. That card might have unique pin assigned to the voter that they must use when submitting their ballot through the system. Once a ballot is cast using the pin, the pin can’t be reused. You would be issued a new pin every year. That should make both sides of the voter id argument happy, it’s easier to vote and you’re effectively being identified by the pin.
The idea is not to silence voters, but rather to have the most informed and invested individuals voting. We value quality over quantity. Political campaigns and voting have been reduced to emotional pandering and patronizing of the least informed. While none of the ideas mentioned above will correct the course, they can help slow the descent.
We have to resist mob rule, and the major parties have made it clear that their interests lie solely in reelection and not the good of the nation. The best we can do is ensure that the most thoughtful also have the loudest voice.
Read More: The Republican Party Needs To Go Away