8 votes

Is universal suffrage a bad idea?

It would appear that this last election shows that a majority of America has reached a point where they vote in a selfish fashion. Namely, voting themselves access to the public treasure chest. I pondered on this for a bit as I thought to myself that perhaps some people shouldn't be allowed to vote. Of course, this thought also doesn't sit well with my libertarian beliefs that voting is a right to be enjoyed by all.

This subject has been at the forefront of my thinking since the election took place, and to some lesser extent, even before that. When I am conflicted between what position to take on an issue, I look to the Constitution and to the founding fathers. It's important to understand how they thought in order to determine why suffrage wasn't initially universal. I mean, why would they not give everyone a say in choosing their leaders? I searched and found this position on suffrage from Alexander Hamilton:

"If it were probable that every man would give his vote freely, and without influence of any kind, then, upon the true theory and genuine principles of liberty, every member of the community, however poor, should have a vote… But since that can hardly be expected, in persons of indigent fortunes, or such as are under the immediate dominion of others, all popular states have been obliged to establish certain qualifications, whereby, some who are suspected to have no will of their own, are excluded from voting; in order to set other individuals, whose wills may be supposed independent, more thoroughly upon a level with each other."

From Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold C. Syrett (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961-79), 1:106.

The founding fathers did face the fact that all people should be able to vote and shared the same conflict. They did so but faced a harsh reality: that some people can not be trusted to do the right thing and vote freely. If you have nothing, then it is more likely that your vote won't be a freely given vote but one that is influenced. They knew some people would vote without putting any thought into it.

Before suffrage was universal, women and blacks weren't allowed to vote. I don't suppose that it should ever return to that. This article is not an attempt to persuade anyone that women or minorities should not be allowed to vote. Women had few rights at the time. Often, they didn't have the same level of access to education or occupation or land ownership. Since this was the condition of women at the time, voting was seen as something they weren't capable of performing responsibly. This is not a matter of chauvinism, but a secondary consequence from a lack of education, etc. In consideration of modern times, women now have equal rights to men and have been able to achieve the same level of education, etc. This would mean that, in general, voting restrictions wouldn't logically be applied to women in modern times since they have equal footing to men. Blacks were subject to slavery at the time and not provided access to education and other means which would generally qualify them as being capable of voting responsibly. Again, with the freedom that minorities have in this nation, race can no longer be a consideration in determining who should vote and who shouldn't.

So then, who should get the right to vote and who shouldn't? I don't think we can ever apply the same restrictions and neither should we, they just wouldn't make sense. If you look at a modern, publicly-traded corporation, you see that not all people associated by that organization get a right to vote on corporate policy or leadership. This is just as well if you consider what havoc might be wrought upon a corporation if every employee was allowed to vote on corporate governance. Would the employees vote responsibly, or is it more likely that they would vote themselves a benefits package that would eventually bankrupt the corporation? If they did vote the company into bankruptcy, then the freedom that is extended to all within that corporation would be lost as the corporation ceases to exist. Such is the situation with our nation today. It is so far in debt that bankruptcy looms on the horizon, people are out of work, and we've got to that point by irresponsible voting. We can blame the leadership, but there is not one member of Congress that didn't get there without the help of voters. To rein in bad leaders, we must rein in the irresponsible voters that have put them there.

Again, we come back to the same basic question of who should vote. If we revisit the corporate model, we see that the only ones who can vote are those who are invested in the corporation. That means the shareholders are the ones who vote. Who is a shareholder of the USA? That could be anyone who buys into the US such as through taxation, owning a portion of US land, etc. Presumably, if you have something to lose, you will vote intelligently enough to protect the value of your asset. If you pay a tax, there should be a value there. A taxpayer is a lender to the US government and should be paid back either in cash or something of similar value such as improvements, etc. Having that cash handed to someone else is not something a responsible voter would allow to happen, but someone with no investment would, for they have nothing to lose and potential gain. A landowner has something to lose as well. A poorly run government can result in that landowner losing his land outright as irresponsible voters vote themselves a claim upon his land, or through excess taxation and asset forfeiture to settle the burdens imposed on the nation by irresponsible voters.

As a result of my studying of this subject, I have concluded that universal suffrage is a bad idea and that the forefathers of this nation were right not to bestow it upon everyone. Restricting voting rights was the best way to ensure freedom for everyone as it kept majority rule in check. It is, perhaps, the one restriction that was smartly placed on the people by a group of founders that worked so hard to extend freedom to all people. Voting is a right that should be returned only to those who can demonstrate a vested interest in determining the leadership and governance of this nation. Only landowners and/or taxpayers, when either are US citizens should vote. This restriction is not discriminatory as anyone is capable of becoming either a taxpayer or a landowner.

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What would government do without slaves?


Free includes debt-free!

I don't like the idea...

...of going back to some aristocracy lording it over everyone else in decision making. I wouldn't consider the fact of Hamilton endorsing something as very weighty. He was too keen on central authority, and I don't trust his advice.

I think we just have to do a better job educating our fellow citizens and also instilling virtues in them through compassionate outreach (as individuals, institutions of faith, etc.). Too many Christians, for example, are too focused on themselves and their material welfare these days, and are shirking their duties to be a light in society. When the church abandons their role in society for the government to take care of, they are culpable for the People not being virtuous. If the People lack wisdom and virtue, the Constitution and Republic will fail, regardless of which segment of them has the vote.

I believe...

...that if you are a govt employee then you should NOT be allowed to vote.

BTW, I disagree with your statement that "my libertarian beliefs that voting is a right to be enjoyed by all". Voting isn't a right. Voting is artificial. It is a govt-bestowed privilege. It's got nothing to do with libertarianism.

Wouldn't the natural position

Wouldn't the natural position of a libertarian be that all people should be able to choose their leaders? It is the argument that because some people have no vested interest in this nation that we have to consider that freedom is best preserved for all by limiting who can vote.


More precisely...

...a libertarian's position is that his natural rights should not be subjected to the whims of voters.

I choose no leader and call a pox on those that pretend so.

Am I free to do that, also?

Free includes debt-free!

You will always have a

You will always have a leader, even if that leader is your own conscience. If that is your desired leader, then run for office.


We elect who can be free.


Free includes debt-free!

So a stay at home,

homeschooling mother and wife should not be allowed to vote?

I read a comment on another site (just yesterday) by an 80 year old man that said woman should not be allowed to vote - especially since their vote often negates the man's vote (I guess woman inherently vote the opposite of what a man votes).

What century is this?

The law cannot make a wicked person virtuous…God’s grace alone can accomplish such a thing.
Ron Paul - The Revolution

Setting a good example is a far better way to spread ideals than through force of arms. Ron Paul

He's Right

That 80 year old guy is right. If women didn't vote, there would be no welfare state. A man could work and keep the fruits of his labor. Women and immigrants now control the country. We are all doomed.

You clearly didn't read the

You clearly didn't read the entire article or didn't understand it well enough to refrain from your shotgun comment.

Nowhere did I advocate taking the vote back from women. In your example, the homeschooling mother would only have to be a taxpayer or a landowner (homeowner).


Please clarify

When you sat 'taxpayers,' which taxes do you mean? Property tax? Everyone pays sales tax. Half or a little more than half pay income tax. Most people file returns. Please clarify.

I would tend to think that it

I would tend to think that it would depends on the type of tax you pay and to which government body it is paid. There is no federal sales tax so paying it would not entitle you to vote for any federal office, only state and local. Income taxes paid to federal government entitles you to vote in federal elections. Property taxes usually go to the state.

I abhor taxes as it creates such debate. Eliminating federal taxes would leave voting to those who own land. Consequently, it permits individuals to acquire more wealth and become landowners, thus gaining voting rights. Those who are content to resign themselves to a life of poverty will simply forego voting rights and be at the mercy of those who have shown a vested level of responsibility.


Univesal Suffrage

...leads to universal sufferage.

Know who/what you're voting for

I've always believed that there should be some standard of knowledge of either the person or, in the case of resolutions etc, what the underlying issues are, before a vote may be cast.

In this past election for example, out of all the positions being vied for, the only ones I cast my vote for were president and one of the senate seats. I didn't know enough about any of the other people running for things like the school board, so I didn't vote for any of them.

The (D) or (R) after there name has no meaning to me and I defy anyone to explain them.

Tweeting occasionally as himself @cudnoski on the twitter.

Welfare, SSI recipients

...just sayin'.

"Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!"- Homer Simpson

You missing one very

You are missing one very important point the founders put into the constitution. Voting was very limited! Never in their wildest imagination did the founders dream that voting on nearly every aspect of our lives would become reality.

It's not just limiting who votes but limiting what can be voted on is perhaps more important. Congress acts almost completely outside their scope of authority in every vote. They were limited to 17 enumerated powers delegated to the feral government in which they had a say. The have abused the commerce clause and gathered unto themselves power and authority they are not delegated in the constitution. They are also responsible for extending the vote to anyone and everyone and now days half of them even want to give the vote to non-citizens. For the very reason that they know it is the source of there unlawful power to legislate ever aspect of our lives...

I am for abolishing voting period. I find it reprehensible that others think they can steal my substance and tell me what to do by merely voting. There is good reason why the founders did not mention democracy in the constitution. As James Madison said Democracy is the ability of the people chose their own Tyrants...

End The Fat
70 pounds lost and counting! Get in shape for the revolution!

Get Prepared!

And Carried One Step Further

...we (all the people) no longer even choose the tyrants.

Sigh..."equal rights for all" led to no rights for anyone.


Congress does what it does

Congress does what it does because it is full of bad leadership. I don't think what they vote on would be such an issue if Congress was full of true statesmen. Again, it guess back to irresponsible voters picking bad leaders.


If they didn't vote on 90% of

If they didn't vote on 90% of what they do vote on as the constitution limits them we would not have 90% of the problems we have. The founders knew the potential for corruption that is why the limited what they can vote on.

End The Fat
70 pounds lost and counting! Get in shape for the revolution!

Get Prepared!

Well the reality is they do

Well the reality is they do vote on stuff they shouldn't. That is because they are bad people who shouldn't be in office. You stop them from getting into office and you stop them from doing the stuff you despise. You keep bad people out of office by limiting who votes to those people who have a vested interest in the nation.


Government should be limited.

Government should be limited to the number of people willing to spend their time keeping an eye on government.

With the Spooils system the crooks in government were rotated when a new political party came to town.

Since 1872, Civil servants could spend a lifetime in government. Anybody watching?

The NSA, is watching us.

Free includes debt-free!