Monday, April 11, 2005


There was a time when only landowners could vote. Then there was a time when only adult white males could vote. Eventually women were allowed to vote, and finally African Americans were allowed to vote, although many phony rules and regulations inhibited the latter, and still do. I have no problem with the idea that non-landowners, women and black people should have the right to vote. But sometimes I think we have gone too far with the notion of universal voting rights. I have touched on this previously but the question haunts me still.

You have to have a driver’s license to drive. In order to get it you must pass a test. In all states you have to have a license to hunt although you do not in all cases have to pass a test. My point is simply that even to engage in these relatively simple tasks you have to prove yourself competent. Not so when it comes to voting. In order to vote in the United States you only have to be above the age of 18 and a United States citizen. That is, you can potentially be insane, even criminally insane, alcoholic, a drug addict, a criminal, pedophile, Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Mormon, Zoroastrian, or any one of the hundreds of so-called religious orders that are permitted in the United States, even illiterate, and you are still allowed to vote. There are no tests, no other qualifications, nothing. Doesn’t this strike you as somewhat absurd? After all, what is more important than voting for the people and principles that are going to lead your country?

Really, don’t you think there ought to be at least some minimal qualifications for voting? Perhaps a nonpartisan course in American history, the Constitution, the separation of church and state, the current issues that are facing the country, or at least some kind of assurance that voters have at least some semblance of an idea of what is involved? I know, I know, we are supposed to get such information from the media – but nowadays we certainly don’t. And presumably our educational institutions should enlighten us about civics and civil rights and such things – but they clearly fail. In other words our official are elected by a majority of know-nothings who, if they vote at all, just go through the motions. Personally, I find this frightening.

It would perhaps not be quite so frightening if we were not at the moment at the mercy of a bunch of absolute know-nothings. In my opinion anyone who professes to believe in the literal truth of the bible, or any of the strange derivative ideas such as the arrival of the Rapture, should not be allowed to vote. Such people are divorced from reality and the potential implications of this are too serious to be tolerated. If people believe it is not important to look after the environment because the Rapture is coming I don’t want them voting. If they cannot distinguish between science and irrational belief I don’t want them voting. If they believe the President of the United States communicates directly with God, I don’t want them voting. The stakes are far too high to allow such absurd ideas to have equal weight in world affairs. If people want to believe in such utter nonsense I suppose it is their right – but they do not have the right to impose such nonsense on the rest of us. The best scientific knowledge available to us cannot simply be ignored because of religious babble or arbitrary beliefs about what is or is not moral or acceptable.

Unfortunately under the present Administration this is happening. There is no doubt that Bush/Cheney and company are ignoring scientific advice in favor of fundamentalistic claims about global warming, scientific research, and whatever. They have an agenda and they are not going to allow reality to impose upon it. Apparently they are going to take the money and run and to hell with the future. They must be stopped before they can do totally irreparable damage.

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