My thoughts on this subject are far from being politically correct but yes, I do fear universal suffrage.
A recent local TV “man in the street” interview illustrates the problem. The reporter, questioning registered voters, asked, “what are the branches of government?” The response from one person was, “Federal and local.” The reporter followed up with, “What does the president of the United States do?” Answer, “he is the man in charge of the Federal government.”
One of the presidential candidates in the current contest promises automatic voter registration at at age 18 for every citizen. The problem here is that there are millions of non-citizen students enrolled in our nation’s schools and many, if not most of those school districts do not keep records on citizenship status. An automatic registration process will invariably grant voting rights to non-citizens.
A much greater problem however, is the low information voter. We watch the Jesse Watters interviews on Fox and get a chuckle out of the inane answers to questions on civics. But when you stop to consider that the folks we are laughing at are registered to vote and many will do so even though they have no clue as to what they are supporting.
Candidates who tailor their campaigns to the low information voter most often promise things that the office they are running for has no authority to implement but the voters they are targeting lack the basic knowledge to realize this.
A famous You Tube video from a few years ago showed a woman expressing enthusiastic support for a certain presidential candidate because, “he is going to pay my bills for me.” When asked where the candidate would get the money to pay individual bills for people she replied, “I don’t know, out of his stash, I guess.”
The right to vote is a precious right, enshrined in our constitution, and deserves to be treated with dignity. That every eligible citizen has the right to vote cannot be denied but where the system falls apart is that we, as a nation, place almost no emphasis on training our citizens in how government works. As long as a significant portion of the voting populace has no idea how government is constituted or what powers reside in which offices, there can be no intelligent use of the right to vote.
In my opinion the future of our country depends on instituting a strong civics education program. Children should begin learning civics, with age appropriate material, from the first grade and the subject should be taught at every grade level through to high school graduation. As extreme as it might sound, given equal opportunity to learn civics, I would go so far as to link an understanding of government to suffrage. If you don’t know what your vote means then please, stay away from the polls.
There is nothing, not anything, more important to the good governance of a democratic republic than having informed voters who know how government is supposed to work and can recognize empty campaign promises when they hear them.
Thanks for reading. This is my opinion and I welcome yours.