Thursday, September 21, 2006

 

Voter ID Debate on NPR Last Night

They managed to get the stupidest people from both sides:

The "we gotta card all the voters person" at no time managed to even fully attempt to make the case (nor did the moderator press him to) that voter fraud is a problem -- it was more or less "we gotta stop those illegals from voting" with no real evidence (other than a few funny names on voter rolls) that any false ballots had actually been cast ... nor did he explain how "illegals voting disenfranchises people": I understand the diluting of the votes argument, but it works the other way -- if more people would vote and be informed about it, a few illegal votes would matter less ... anyway, the argument could be made any way as to how illegals might affect elections -- they could (be forced to) vote for their bosses interests as Northern Italians feared about extending the vote to Sicilian peasants, or they could use the vote to exact revenge on their bosses as our overclass seems to fear ... and as to old fashioned, Dem. political machine voter fraud: a few dead people voting Dem. (balanced out by cows up/down-state voting Republican) who would have voted Dem. anyway if they were still alive is not as much of a problem as voter disenfranchisement: why? Because adding fake votes results in an arms race in which either side can always respond in kind, but, no matter how many dead people and farm animals vote in a state, the state still gets the same number of electoral votes. OTOH, when you disenfranchise folks, you give the minority allowed to vote the power of the majority, which can, e.g. as occurred in the South post-reconstruction, be very dangerous both to specific groups of people and to the economic development of the region as a whole.

Even worse than the pro-ID person was the anti-ID person. He just went on and on about how rather large number of people don't have the appropriate ID and would be disenfranchised if these sorts of laws would pass. Yet the law in question provides people 2 years to get free IDs, etc. The anti-ID person not once addressed the issue of why the people in question may not be able to get the ID they'd need even if the ID were free (e.g. a lack of a birth certificate or means to physically get the ID), nor did he address the question of "who's gonna pay for those free IDs and could that money better be spent elsewhere?" ... I do have to give him credit for his "baby with the bathwater analogy", though

Actually -- that's what bugs me the most about the state of our political discourse these days -- it seems that someone (typically a GOP partisan) identifies some "problem" which ought to be "fixed" ... few even raise the conservative question: "what will fixing the problem cost?"; and those that do are labeled as un-serious about the problem, which never was fully defined in the first place. Save us from serious people, then (cf. P.J. O'Rourke): if people would have listened to those questioning costs rather than marginalizing them, we'd not have 'Nam, we'd not have the mess we're in w.r.t. Iraq, etc. And yet the media happily labels as partisan those opposing the 'fix' "for political advantage" (as if that's a bad thing? don't people read the Federalist Papers anymore?) and it's considered impolitic to point out that the very identification of the "problem" was just a partisan ploy to begin with? Oy Gevalt!

Anyway, speaking of voting: I personally think they should allow non-citizens to vote in local elections. Of course, you should be a citizen of the US to vote in a Federal election, but aren't Green Card holders who live and work in a state as much residents of a state as, e.g., I am who's just moved to the state I'm currently living in? I say these things should be done on a graduated basis: visa holders with sufficient interests in their community (e.g. student visa holders) should be allowed to vote in municipal elections in their community of current residence in lieu of voting in their home communities abroad. Green card holders on the path to citizenship should be allowed to vote in state elections. And once you become a citizen (only then) you can vote in federal elections. Sounds good to me, but in today's political climate it would never pass.

Comments:
Why would you want any non-citizen to vote in any election? We need fewer voters, not more. A smaller reasonably educated class of voter is far better than a large mass of ignorant voters. Politics is too important to leave to the ignorant. If people are unable to surmount the hurdles in order to vote, so be it. I don't want to make it too easy for every street bum to come on in and pull a lever.
 
I enjoy Billmon so you know snark is my friend. Loved the voter ID post.
 
saltworks,

Actually the non-citizens to which I have in mind when I'm thinking of extending the local franchise are those who are actually quite educated and less ignorant than the voting population in general. Perhaps I should modify my proposal to restrict voting rights to certain classes of visa-holders.

Frighteningly perhaps it may be but, opit, I wasn't being 100% snarky here ...

thanks all for the thought provoking comments ... we need more of those on this site ...
 
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