“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the Public Treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the Public Treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy always followed by dictatorship.”
-Alexander Fraser Tyler, “The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic”
Many of the biggest problems our country faces are not ones that we can rely on politicians to fix. The reason is that they often benefit from them. Ordinary people need to work between elections to change many of these. We need to do it between elections because everything that tries to fix a problem ends up in court, so any successes won’t materialize until after the next election.
We mentioned a bigger issue with regard to voting in the last article.
Is voting a right that belongs to everyone (citizenship is assumed)? Or is it a privilege with restrictions? Only two states allow felons to vote, so it is generally recognized that voting is a privilege and not an absolute right.
Originally in our country, the basic principle that governed voting in colonial America was that voters should have a “stake in society. Leading colonists associated democracy with disorder and mob rule, and believed that the vote should be restricted to those who owned property or paid taxes. Only these people, in their view, were committed members of the community and were sufficiently independent to vote.”
These restrictions were gradually eliminated in our country, but our country is now experiencing something unthought-of in American history. About half of our country receives some form of government assistance. And just about half of our country does not pay any income taxes.
As people receive more things from the government, they become more dependent on the government. If it is a natural human tendency to go from accepting help to expecting help, how are people in this situation able to vote in a way that is best for the entire country?
Margaret Thatcher said that socialism doesn’t work because you always run out of other people’s money. We are not officially a socialistic country, but we are gradually relying on other people to take care of us rather than taking care of ourselves.
So when these people vote, they vote to benefit themselves at the expense of others. This will hurt our country in the long run. The issue of 18 year olds voting is the first step in insuring that voters are givers into the system rather than just takers.
I would even say that voting should be reserved for taxpayers period.
The fourth issue is voter ID laws. The only reason I can think of why people oppose this is that they know their party is benefitting from illegal votes. Do a google search for the things that require a photo ID in our country:
1) buy alcohol
2) buy cigarettes
3) open a bank account
4) apply for food stamps
5) apply for welfare
6) apply for Medicaid/Social Security
7) apply for unemployment or a job
8) rent/ buy a house, apply for a mortgage
9) drive/buy/rent a car
10) get on an airplane
11) get married
12) purchase a gun
13) adopt a pet
14) rent a hotel room
15) apply for a hunting/fishing license
16) buy a cell phone
17) visit a casino
18) pick up a prescription
19) hold a rally or protest
20) donate blood
21) buy an “M” rated video game
22) purchase nail polish at CVS
23) purchase certain cold medicines
24) cash a check
How do people even get along without a photo ID? How have they made it this far?
I don’t think it is coincidental that every state that had voter ID in the last national election voted the same way. The outcomes of our elections are far more important than any item in the above list, and there are huge incentives to be less than totally honest here.
Demand voter ID laws.
One more matter. Consider this very common quote from John Adams, our second President.
. . . we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
Just as in our first quote, people in a democracy (or republic) can vote the country broke for their individual gain, so too the leaders in a democracy (or republic) can vote themselves privileges and benefits that can ultimately harm the public good. Our government as set up requires a moral and religious people because the temptation for personal gain at the cost of everyone else is enormous.
A good example of this was with Obamacare, which Congress essentially exempted itself from and exempted others from in the attempt to gain votes. Cities and states are going broke over the benefits given to public sector employees.
When lawmakers make laws pertaining to themselves, experience has shown that the public interest is rarely served. They make laws for the rest of us, but they routinely exempt themselves from the laws’ effects.
There is an online petition going around today for a Congressional Reform Act of 2013. I think it is too encompassing, not allowing for unforeseen circumstances, but the point is valid. Laws should apply for everybody, including those who make them.
We can’t rely on our elected leaders to solve all our problems, especially when they are the cause of many of them. Ordinary people need to do more, say more, and act more to bring about these long needed changes.