pageok
pageok
pageok
GOP Candidates, GOP Voters, and the 2008 Race:
In the Sunday NYT, Adam Nagourney has an interesting article on the lack of enthusiasm for the GOP Presidential candidates among Republican voters:
  [W]hat is worrying Republicans these days is that this tepid rank-and-file reception to the best the party has to offer suggests that the Republican Party is hitting a wall after dominating American politics for most of the last 35 years. Republican voters are reacting to — or rather, not reacting to — a field of presidential candidates who have defined their candidacies with familiar, even musty, Republican promises, slogans and policies.
  "Our party generally has grown stale in its message and we're not as tuned in as we once were," said Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican who sought his party's presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000. "We're repeating words and phrases that were from the 1980s, rather than looking ahead to 2008. We haven't been as original and fresh in our presentation as we ought to be. We have been applying our old principles to new circumstances. The world is new."
  Of course, old ideas can be good ideas, and I'd support a candidate with old good ideas over a candidate with new bad ones. But the relative lack of enthusiasm seems real, and the question is why it exists.

  My own pet theory is that this is largely a casualty of the the Bush Administration's focus on loyalty over the past 7 years. By consistently rewarding loyalty over policy, the Bush Administration made it considerably more difficult for new GOP leaders to emerge. Being a loyalist means being a follower, and voters tend to look for candidates who are leaders instead. Partly as a result, the GOP field consists mostly of candidates who haven't been active in national politics in the last few years, if ever. Four of the five leading candidates are former officeholders (a former Mayor, a former Senator, and two former Governors), who haven't been closely involved in the political process for a while. The one sitting office-holder, Senator McCain, is known for his independence from Bush.

  It would have been a different picture if Bush were more popular. But an unpopular President who greatly values loyalty doesn't make it easy for the party in the next election.
Brett Bellmore:
I think a significant issue is that, after seeing what the GOP actually did with control of both elective branches, it's difficult for Republicans to raise any enthusiasm over promises they reasonably believe will never be delivered on. A further problem is that the front runners seem to all have one or more major issues on which they are in direct opposition to the party base, and last minute politically expedient reversals tend not to be very persuasive.
12.16.2007 4:30pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Most of the candidates--Paul the obvious exception--are big-government Republicans, while most of the base, possibly excepting the Religious Right, remains small government Republican. For a small government Republican, anyone asked what he would cut who doesn't begin "I'd start with the following Departments" isn't anyone to get enthusiastic about.
12.16.2007 4:35pm
NeedlessToSay (mail):
The, uh, sixth leading candidate, who was for some reason not referenced in Orin's post, is a sitting office holder AND inspires enthusiasm. Like, how'd that happen?
12.16.2007 4:36pm
JimSaco (mail):
I think it's a couple things.

The Republicans are depressed and on the defensive. They lost in 06 and the money flow shifted to the Dems. A lot of people are figuring on more Dem gains in 08. I think you're seeing that capitalized into the financial markets already.

Further, I don't think a candidate will really catch fire unless they are broadly acceptable. With one exception, the major candidates have at least one crippling flaw that makes them anathema to a chunk of the base.

The only one who would be minimally acceptable -- Grandpa Fred -- is running such a lousy campaign, people have forgotten he is actually running.

There indeed is enthusiasm around Ron Paul. They are having their "tea party" today, and they are up to about $4 million as of 5pm EST. He will be around $15mm or so total for the quarter, which will probably be the most of anybody running in either party.

Much as I like Ron, he cannot win the nomination of today's Republican party. The social conservatives and defense hawks would never allow it.

Where the Ron Paul people go, could determine the outcome in November.
12.16.2007 5:02pm
MarkField (mail):

My own pet theory is that this is largely a casualty of the the Bush Administration's focus on loyalty over the past 7 years. By consistently rewarding loyalty over policy, the Bush Administration made it considerably more difficult for new GOP leaders to emerge. Being a loyalist means being a follower, and voters tend to look for candidates who are leaders instead.


Surely the greater problem is not loyalty, it's the failure of the policies to which loyalty was demanded (and given). Bush is a failure as a president, probably on an historic scale. Loyalty to his policy failures -- notably Iraq and the economy -- is what will cost any Republican candidate in 2008. That, and the demand by the base (and opposed, interestingly, by Bush) for harsh treatment of immigrants.
12.16.2007 5:16pm
Waldensian (mail):

But the relative lack of enthusiasm seems real, and the question is why it exists.

Because Bush has been a horrible president, and the Republicans in general have made a huge mess of things?

These are just theories, of course.
12.16.2007 5:21pm
Cornellian (mail):
For a small government Republican, anyone asked what he would cut who doesn't begin "I'd start with the following Departments" isn't anyone to get enthusiastic about.

That is the way Republicans talked about their agenda in 1994 and it won them control of Congress. And yet we ended up with Tom Delay who, after years of explosive growth in government spending and handouts for friends and campaign doners, arrogantly proclaimed that Congressional Republicans had done a pretty good job paring down the federal budget and that there was no fat left to be cut.

Given those developments the question isn't why is there so little enthusiasm among small government Republicans, the question is why is there any enthusiasm at all?
12.16.2007 5:28pm
e:
As an independent, I just hope that the GOP primary will give me the one choice who will get the moderate vote. Unlike Romney, McCain looks for the consensus solutions we need while remembering his principles. They all know some regulation is necessary to ensure the fair elections which are essential to our gov't structure, and they know that legal immigration needs to be increased, and they know that subsidies are not good for trade/domestic markets, but McCain was the one to actually take the political risks. He does favor a strong foreign policy and commitment to what we start, but still has a Goldwater heart for reducing domestic programs. The simplistic attacks are especially crazy when Giuliani et al benefit even though they agree on a need for similar immigration reform. I'm amazed by the difference between head-to-head polls and registered GOPers views of electability. At least the Paulites will be able to blame some conspiracy when Paul fails.
12.16.2007 5:36pm
Gramarye:
Orin: I'm not sure I follow your train of thought. Republican candidates get tepid receptions, because they're recycling old lines, because Bush rewards loyalty over policy? Is the missing link here maybe that a president who put more emphasis on policy development would have "seeded" the ideological marketplace with new ideas over the past eight years, and Republican candidates could key off those points instead of older ones? I'm seriously not trying to put words in your mouth here, but I think you made a bigger jump there than I can follow. You said yourself that good old ideas should rightly trump bad new ones. (An old German proverb goes something like "Always something new, seldom something good.")

I ascribe the lack of enthusiasm more to tectonic shifts in the electorate, particularly in the Republican coalition, than personal failings or resumes of the candidates. The economic-conservative and social-conservative factions of the GOP have been drifting apart ever sense the centripedal force of the Soviet Union dissipated. Shared hostility to the Clintons is hardly a viable replacement for a unifying influence like that; there are shared enemies and shared enemies. This makes it increasingly difficult to appeal to all factions in the current GOP tent (which, if the drift continues, will be referred to as the "former GOP tent"), but Republican political operatives haven't identified a viable new coalition that can command majority support in general elections and operate with a semblance of comity in primaries. Therefore, they continue to channel talking points from when they did in fact have a viable coalition, hoping that they can keep the collapsing raft tied together at least long enough to make it through one more presidential election. Trying to please both the social conservatives and economic conservatives simultaneously is just a much, much more difficult balancing act than it was during the Cold War. Many in the conservative commentariat are waiting for some kind of savior to find that sweet spot in the middle, but more likely, those tectonic plates are going to continue to drift apart until new coalitions are formed that don't take a superman to balance. In the meantime, candidates are either trying to maintain their balance on ground that has eroded over the past twenty-eight years, or they're deciding to come down firmly on one side, which only serves to illustrate just how far the gulf has grown. (The most salient example is Mike Huckabee, who came down firmly on the social conservative side--exciting that side in favor of him and exciting the other side against him. Witness the fratricidal mauling he's been getting at the hands of the Wall Street Journal, National Review, and the Club for Greed Growth. Except that it's not fratricide if it's not your brother. Which is largely the point.)
12.16.2007 5:51pm
MDJD2B (mail):

Much as I like Ron, he cannot win the nomination of today's Republican party. The social conservatives and defense hawks would never allow it.

Nor should they, as they comprise the majority of the party and Dr. Paul's views are largely antithetical to theirs.
12.16.2007 5:52pm
SenatorX (mail):

Personally I would like to see a fiscal conservative, small government, pro-individual rights, strong military candidate. I would even vote for an avowed christian if he would constantly talk about separation of church and state. If he hated socialism I might even get giddy.
12.16.2007 5:53pm
pilsener (mail):
I agree with Brett Belmore on Bush.

The issue now is TRUST. Which nominee can be TRUSTED to strive for limited government, strict coonstructionist judges, fiscal responsibility, and long-term thinking.
The only indications we have are their words and their prior actions, which are, at best, inconclusive.

The only thing that all of us can TRUST is that none of the Democratic contenders will be better than a Republican on these principles. Let's hope we can wisely choose a candidate will win and not disappoint later.
12.16.2007 6:20pm
wekt:

Personally I would like to see a fiscal conservative, small government, pro-individual rights, strong military candidate.

Ron Paul meets all these criteria. Yes, he supports a strong military to protect our homeland. What he is against is overextending our military to subsidize the defense of foreign nations and to meddle in their internal affairs.

For a foreign country to attack the United States is suicide. We have enough nukes to completely demolish any nation that is foolish enough to attack us, and we also have the capability to inflict lesser retaliation on hostile nations. There is no need to keep troops permanently stationed in 100+ foreign countries, especially when our own borders are infamously porous.
12.16.2007 6:24pm
Gramarye:
For a foreign country to attack the United States is suicide.

But the most significant attack on our homeland in recent memory wasn't carried out by a foreign country, and the fact that it's "suicide" isn't much of a deterrent against people who don't care if they live or die.

Isolationism is simply not a viable policy position in the world we live in, and it will only get less and less so with the passage of time. The world is too small for isolationism, and it's only getting smaller.
12.16.2007 7:46pm
bla bla (mail):
I don't think Bush's emphasis on loyalty is the cause of the problem here. I think there are two things at work here.

First, each of the candidates has their flaws. Guiliani has a weird personal past. McCain is a maverick and is aging a little too fast. Huckabee is a liberal on economic issues and too religious for many people. Romney is too slick. Etc.

Second, the gulf between religious republicans and business/libertarian republicans is widening. The reason behind this is that after having won for 20 years, Republican Presidents and Congresses have already given religious conservatives the low hanging fruit. There used to be a number of things desired by the religious conservatives that business conservatives wanted too---or, at least, didn't care about enough to oppose. For example, religious conservatives wanted to get rid of the marriage penalty. Business conservatives didn't care. Religious conservatives wanted abstinence education. Libertarians shuddered, but put up with it. The same can be said of home schooling, faith based programs, and a billion other things.

But after the success of the Republican party in the past 20 years, no such things exist any more. The only things left for the religious right to demand really, really scare business and libertarian conservatives. For example, no libertarian or business conservative wants creationism taught in schools. A lot of people are really hesitant to eliminate abortion rights. And few libertarians are that happy about the prospect of amending the Constitution to ban gay marriage.

The wings of the Republican party are bickering, and the cause of this bickering is their success over the past 20 years. The best way, I think, to heal this divide is to let the Democrats roll back Republicans' advances on social issues so that the low hanging fruit can be pursued with vigor again.
12.16.2007 8:07pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Look, it's simple: the candidates are Larry, Curly and Moe. Now, choose intelligently.
12.16.2007 8:24pm
wekt:

Isolationism is simply not a viable policy position in the world we live in, and it will only get less and less so with the passage of time.

That is true, but Ron Paul does not support isolationism. He supports trade, commerce, and diplomacy with other nations; what he opposes is unnecessary military intervention in their internal affairs.
12.16.2007 8:38pm
NRWO:
Isolationism is simply not a viable policy position in the world we live in, and it will only get less and less so with the passage of time.

This statement mischaracterizes Paul's position. Paul strongly promotes free trade among countries, which cannot properly be described as "isolationist." He also believes that countries that trade together have common interests, and that common interests decrease the need for military intervention.

To be sure, Paul also believes that the Iraq war is misguided and unauthorized, in part because Congress never issued a formal declaration of war.
12.16.2007 8:41pm
MDJD2B (mail):

Second, the gulf between religious republicans and business/libertarian republicans is widening.

Not all business conservatives are libertarians; many support a fairly rubust regulatory state, because one set of regulations is better than 50, and because they don't want to be involved in a race to the bottom in many areas. They tend to support agreements such as NAFTA, and want the federal government to actively support the physical and educational infrastructure of the country.

Corporation presidents are not the ones giving money to Dr. Paul.

The business constituency does want to see more fiscal responsibility. It cares nothing about the social conservative agenda. These people are not particularly religious; they want to make money and they want the government to help them make it.

As corporations become more global, the business constituency also becomes increasingly suspicious of patriotism and nationalism at home; more and more CEO's are foreign.
12.16.2007 8:50pm
kietharch (mail):
I didn't read Nagourney's article but isn't he the reporter who kept seeing a Kerry boom in 2004? and, left to be inferred, is the contrasting focussed enthusiasm of the Democratic race. Well, kind of.

It's nice to be enthusiastic about Obama. Anybody else? you think Obama can get elected? about the same chance as Ron Paul.
12.16.2007 8:56pm
GV:
For those of you who support Ron Paul, I thought you'd be interested in this article.
12.16.2007 10:25pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
The republican that talks about, mentions, and alludes to 9-11 the most (currently Rudy G) will win the election, and they know it.

Plus, Americans are not about to elect a woman or a swarthy looking guy with an arabic sounding name that rhymes with Osama.

The founders of this country, particularly the framers of the Constitution, must be rolling in their graves at what's become of America. Frankly, we'd be better served if only men who own property worth $500,000 are allowed to vote. Letting women vote, while well-meaning, injected the maternal instinct into politics and made every issue "for the children." And encouraging, let alone permitting, every uneducated (through the fault of the government!) moron to vote based on attack ads and TV commercials does NO service to democracy, and has permitted such things as the election of GW Bush. No way a moron like Bush would have been a candidate for president 150 years ago.
12.16.2007 10:31pm
Truth Seeker:
Frankly, we'd be better served if only men who own property worth $500,000 are allowed to vote.

It's sooo un-PC and against everything most people stand for today, but we probably would get better leaders that way.
12.16.2007 10:56pm
Terrivus:
I just can't wait two more months until this Ron Paul candidacy is a dot in the rear-view mirror of life.
12.16.2007 10:59pm
Gramarye:
Or you'd just get better leaders for those worth $500k or more.
12.16.2007 11:01pm
OrinKerr:
Bruce M writes:
Frankly, we'd be better served if only men who own property worth $500,000 are allowed to vote. Letting women vote, while well-meaning, injected the maternal instinct into politics and made every issue "for the children." And encouraging, let alone permitting, every uneducated (through the fault of the government!) moron to vote based on attack ads and TV commercials does NO service to democracy, and has permitted such things as the election of GW Bush.
Notalgic for great Presidents like Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce, I gather?
12.16.2007 11:21pm
MarkField (mail):

Notalgic for great Presidents like Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce, I gather?


I hate to spoil fine snark with pedantry, but property qualifications were mostly gone by 1850.
12.16.2007 11:27pm
Thoughtful (mail):
Senator X:"Personally I would like to see a fiscal conservative, small government, pro-individual rights, strong military candidate. I would even vote for an avowed christian if he would constantly talk about separation of church and state. If he hated socialism I might even get giddy."
——
And personally I would like the Nobel for Physics to go to the E=MC*2, faster-than-light candidate...

NRWO already spoke to the substance of this point, but I tire of those so unsophisticated in their thinking and lacking in the study of history that they see no contradiction in their wish for a "small, limited government," a "night watchman" state, a state devoted only to securing individual rights, that happens to also be able to police the world and maintain military troops in over 100 countries.

Tell me Senator X, do you think this is costless? We pay for it every year in a bloated military budget, of the kind Eisenhower warned against. For many decades until Friedman, we paid for it in the horror of the draft, and we may see that payment asked for again. We pay for it in a growing security state, where our liberties disappear while learned men debate on whether or not waterboarding is a form of torture. And after decades of intervention in the Middle East, we paid again on 9/11. Since those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, it seems we will continue to pay in future, in blood AND fortune. Do you have no sense of decency, Senator, at long last...
12.16.2007 11:49pm
Gramarye:
True. But I'm not entirely sure any of the pre-1850 presidents after Monroe distinguished themselves as eminent statesmen, either.
12.16.2007 11:51pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
OrinKerr: Clearly not every president before the 19th Amendment was fantastic. But we'll never again have a good president. Just mediocrity, people with good hair who don't sweat and have nice teeth, people who talk about god and seem like they'd be nice to have a beer with, people who talk about doing things "for the children" and people who spew forth reminders that terrorists are bad and must be stopped. That's all we'll get from this point forward, and insofar as people get the leaders they deserve, we certainly don't deserve anything better.

And I guarantee you that both Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce would destroy GW Bush in a real debate (i.e. one where the candidates can question each other and are not asked to give portions of their stump speeches in turn).

Ultimately, I'm not saying we should return to a pre-existing system of voting term for term, I'm saying there should be limits on who gets to vote. It should not be based on race. Absolutely not, I want to make it clear that I'm not suggesting only white people should be allowed to vote. I am suggesting women should not have been given the franchise, and I am suggesting that encouraging uninformed voters to vote merely for the sake of increasing "voter turnout" does a great disservice to democracy. Mandatory voting is the dumbest idea I've ever heard proposed.

Whether property, assets, or a simple 10 question test on each ballot (who is the current vice president? who is the chief justice of the united states? who is the speaker of the house? what does IRS stand for? how many senators does your state have?) is used as a standard, we should have a standard. Everyone should NOT be allowed to have their vote count merely because they exist. When "breathing" is the only qualification for voters, particularly in an age where education is not valued and people are greatly disinformed (rather than merely uninformed), democracy cannot -- and clearly does not -- work.
12.17.2007 12:24am
Truth Seeker:
Notalgic for great Presidents like Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce, I gather?

Umm. better examples would be... Washington, Adams, Jefferson... etc.

Fillmore wasn't even elected, so your coment is even a valid joke.
12.17.2007 12:34am
David M. Nieporent (www):
True. But I'm not entirely sure any of the pre-1850 presidents after Monroe distinguished themselves as eminent statesmen, either.
Hey! I won't have you speaking badly of Martin Van Buren!
12.17.2007 12:36am
Thoughtful (mail):
I don't know whether David N is making a joke or is serious, but check here for a strong libertarian argument to the effect Martin van Buren was the most libertarian of all our Presidents: "Martin Van Buren: The Greatest American President" By Jeffrey Rogers Hummel in The Independent Review, Vol 4, #2, Fall, 1999.
12.17.2007 1:24am
Thoughtful (mail):
Link didn't come through (don't know why; clicked link. Filled out URL), but if anyone is interested, the info above allows Googling. It can be read online.
12.17.2007 1:26am
OrinKerr:
BruceM,

Dear Lord, you truly frighten me. If you're being serious, you are inadvertently making an argument for universal franchise; assuming you're a man, I want as many women voting as I can find.

Taking your highly disturbing views seriously for a moment, I find your theory of government deeply troubling. The franchise must be broad because the legitimacy of government hinges on the consent of the governed. Your system in which the few govern the many does not describe a world in which I would want to live.

Truth Seeker,
Glad you think my joke is valid. I thought so, too.
12.17.2007 1:29am
Gramarye:
Heh. Orin: I think TS gets let off on scrivener's error.

BruceM: I think Orin been me to the punch, which is good, because I'd have been likely to have said something in response that would have been a borderline banning offense if he hadn't decided to play the cool head in the room.

I've had some interesting discussions on what other systems might work if it were possible to circumvent the one-person, one-vote rule. I had a very interesting one in particular basing number of votes on "capital contribution" (i.e., taxes paid), like a corporation, giving larger contributors larger input. But seriously? Repealing the 19th Amendment? And a $500k property threshold that would disenfranchise the vast majority of the white vote, to say nothing of how many minorities?

I don't know what to say. Flummoxed by a lummox, I am.
12.17.2007 2:08am
Gramarye:
Note to all and sundry: I should clarify that I didn't and don't actually support a one-tax-dollar, one-vote system. But at least it made an interesting debate. I'm can't say the same for a repeal of the 19th Amendment; that's more something one says in jest to needle a member of the opposite sex. (OK, OK, the opposite sex to me and most commenters on this blawg.)
12.17.2007 2:10am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I don't know whether David N is making a joke or is serious, but check here for a strong libertarian argument to the effect Martin van Buren was the most libertarian of all our Presidents:
First, it's pretty clear that William Henry Harrison was the most libertarian of our presidents. That government is best that governs least, after all.

Second, I deliberately picked MVB, knowing that the statement could be read either as an endorsement or dismissal.
12.17.2007 5:45am
BruceM (mail) (www):
OrinKerr: I used to believe in the whole universal consent, everyone gets to vote theory of legitimate government. I did for a long time. But when I realized how stupid, uninformed, misinformed, uneducated, and ignorant the average American is (which by definition means 50% are even worse than average) I could no longer justify allowing, let alone encouraging, everyone to vote purely out of principal.

Is an uninformed vote not a worthless vote? Allowing people to vote when they don't know what they're voting for is bad for democracy. Not good. Bad. And if that means disenfranchising lots of people, then so be it. It's not being done based on race, though there might be a disparate impact. Heck, I do not own $500,000 worth of property so I'd be disenfranchised under one of my own suggestions.

Americans, a majority of whom do not vote, do not consider their ability to vote, or not, to have any connection to the legitimacy of their government. Legitimacy of government is based on (a) military power or (b) social programs for which you qualify, depending on your political point of view.

I don't know if I'd actually support a repeal of the 19th Amendment at this point, based purely on a stare decisis principal. Women have had the right to vote for so long, you can't take it away now. But, if I could travel back in time and advise about the future ramifications of women's suffrage, I'd certainly strongly be against it, though it really does pain me to take that position. I don't hate women, I just think the maternal instinct to protect children makes them highly irrational voters, and leads to horrendously bad public policy, with most debates coming down to candidate A threating your children then saying candidate B won't do anything about the threat.

Making the maternal instinct to "protect the children" a central, overriding issue to 50% of the voting base is what has led to sex offenders being forced to live under a bridge in Florida. Think how many state and federal laws have the word "Children" or "Children's" in the title of the bill? Saying your plan will "protect the children" creates a straw man impossible to tear down, and opposable only by creating a bigger straw man. The only way to contest a candidate saying he will pass a law keeping felons 500 feet away from children is to propose a law keeping felons 501 feet away from children, and so on and so forth. I'm sorry, but this absurdity is a direct result of the 19th Amendment. Public policy was not entirely about "the children" prior to the 19th Amendment. A real debate on public policy is simply not possible when half the voting base is worried their children are imminently in danger of being snatched, killed, bombed, fondled, terrorized, raped, murdered, shot, or masturbated to on the internet.

But again, I'm not sure I'm truly in favor of taking away women's right to vote, I'm just in favor of not having given it in the first place.

Now, what is wrong with having 10 random multiple choice questions on every ballot, with the sort of simple, basic elementary questions Jay Leno goes around asking people on the streets for the answer to (which most don't know), and not counting the ballot unless all the questions (or 90%?) are answered correctly? To say that will disenfranchise minorities is to say minorities are inherently stupid. You can say that, but I won't. At the very least, we should do this. People who don't know the name of the current president should not be allowed to vote for the next one.

And yes, there are interesting ways of making some votes count more by multiplying a person's vote by a certain factor (tax dollars, IQ, their score on the multiple choice test on the ballot, etc), and I'm all in favor of further discussion and debate on those. But I am firmly against everyone's vote counting the same when everyone can vote and everyone is encouraged to vote, no matter how little they know about what they're voting for. It frightens me how dumb most people are (and I blame that on dumb voters not electing people who want to help or improve education... the one thing truly "for the children" is ironically the one thing we never get).

And if it makes you feel better, you can call me dumb and say I shouldn't be allowed to vote. You'll just implicitly be proving my point.
12.17.2007 6:07am
veteran:
:"Personally I would like to see a fiscal conservative, small government, pro-individual rights, strong military candidate. I would even vote for an avowed christian if he would constantly talk about separation of church and state. If he hated socialism I might even get giddy."

Patton is still dead. And if he did reincarnate and joined the military, PC being what it is, it's unlikely he would have moved up the ranks to become equal to what he was.

Yes, the "For the children" movement has destroyed children, for it has extended the emotional qualities of childhood for decades into what might have otherwise been adulthood.

A test would be good but the problem there now is that some would pass and some would fail, resulting in low self esteem, so that won't happen.

And Paul supporters, where they are allowed, will probably exercise their constitutional right to write in the candidate of their choice. The result being that whomever is the Demo candidate will be elected by default and not by decree.
12.17.2007 7:47am
rarango (mail):
I would suggest ADNAGS thumbsucker opinion piece will not apply once the two major candidates emerge from the crowded fields. Too much chaff right now to get anyone excited, IMO.
12.17.2007 9:20am
JosephSlater (mail):
Despite Orin's efforts, this "women shouldn't be allowed to vote" is may be an all-time low for the VC.

Any other rights you would like to take awaw from women? Because there were quite a few they didn't have -- especially back in the days when they didn't have the right to vote.
12.17.2007 10:29am
JosephSlater (mail):
"away" not "awaw"
12.17.2007 10:29am
NRWO:
I just can't wait two more months until this Ron Paul candidacy is a dot in the rear-view mirror of life.

Dot? In the rear-view mirror of life?

A candidate who raises more money, in a single day, than any other candidate (perhaps in history), should not be viewed in such terms.

If Paul decides to run on a third party ticket, he could play the role of spoiler, a la Perot or Nader.

If Paul drops-out of the race, other candidates will likely scramble to pick-up Paul money and support. Politicians who ignore such money (and support) are foolish.
12.17.2007 11:02am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Loyalty has nothing to do with it whatsoever.

The fact is that any sitting president sucks up the oxygen from the party. All focus within the party is on the president so it is the opposition that develops new figures. Though even here, Obama is the only new figure generating excitement.

I think the true reason for the lack of enthusiasm is that most republicans think a democrat is going to win easily in 2008. If this perception changes, then people may get excited.
12.17.2007 11:53am
SenatorX (mail):
Well thoughtful, for one I served in the military and I am guessing you did not? I won't argue about the corruption and waste (this is government after all) but I am not willing to scrap the military because of it. You may think America sucks but I don't. Our core laid by the founding fathers is still there and I plan on living here until I die. As an atheist that puts me contra to the Moslems, as a libertarian that puts me contra to the Russians, the Chinese and the socialists. Is it possible that I know more about the military strengths and goals of these enemies than you do?

I understand the apparent contradiction but as I view a state as a necessary evil I also view a strong military as a necessary evil. I believe in negotiating from a position of power and I believe when the strong sue for peace it's believable.

I don't like "might makes right" as a moral philosophy but I certainly understand it as a natural phenomenon.
12.17.2007 12:07pm
OrinKerr:
BruceM,

Of course I think you should have the right to vote, despite your astonishing and extremely disturbing views. I might not be too troubled if you decide not to exercise your right, because I find your judgment highly impaired and your views rather neanderthal. But of course I couldn't take away your right to vote: You are a member of our polity, and the response of our system is to outvote you and your extremely troubling views rather than to take away your right to participate in the first place. It's called "democracy," and I think it works pretty well. It's certainly much better than an alternative system in which someone with your views gets to decide who gets to decide.
12.17.2007 12:16pm
Gramarye:
NRWO wrote:
If Paul drops-out of the race, other candidates will likely scramble to pick-up Paul money and support. Politicians who ignore such money (and support) are foolish.
Maybe. Maybe not. Picking up five supporters at the cost of losing fifteen would be an unadvisable tradeoff, and that may well be the kind of calculus that Republican candidates examining what would be necessary to pick up the Paul bloc after the primaries conclude would face. Paul essentially has a monopoly on those Republicans (and L/libertarians) who actually buy the line that America shoulders some (or much) of the blame for 9/11 and that we shouldn't project hard power abroad. However, while Dr. Paul has the monopoly on that vote, and therefore their truly ardent support, it's not the majority view among Republicans. It's not even really the majority view among centrists and swing voters, who are more concerned with this intervention (Iraq) than the abstract concept of any intervention.

A move by any "mainstream" GOP candidate towards a Paulish position on foreign policy risks alienating considerably more support than it garners.
12.17.2007 12:19pm
bellisaurius (mail):
Perhaps conservatives feel a bit shamed by the past few years. I mean, the torture thing took a lot of wind out of my sails, and all the corruption stuff wasn't exactly helping, and while I like a strong executive, I don't like willfullness, there has to be an arm extended somewhere.

Lot's of stuff, and a lot of it pushing me to generally voting democratic this cycle too (local issues notwithstanding, I hardly think of party there).
12.17.2007 12:40pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
OrinKerr: You could at least address the merits of what I've suggested, rather than merely insulting me. I know I'm quite blunt and un-PC, particularly with regard to merits of the 19th Amendment, but my goal is solely a more accurate voting process.

If you can't get past the notion that some people should not be allowed to vote, or have their vote counted less, based on some non-race factor, I can respect that, though I greatly disagree with it. And I realize that nobody will agree with me about the negative impact of the 19th Amendment, because if they did, they won't get laid if anyone finds out. But I'm surprised you are one of those people that believes the more people who vote, the better, regardless of how informed those votes are.

I firmly believe 25% voter turnout of highly-informed voters is far better for democracy than 60% voter turnout consisting of the 25% highly-informed voters and an additional 35% completely uninformed voters. (A) why is higher voter turnout, in and of itself, so wonderful, and (B) why should the uninformed have a controlling impact in choosing our leaders? Do you really disagree with me on this? It seems so blatantly logical that I find it hard to reasonably disagree with. You can respond via email if you don't want to say something politically incorrect here, and I promise not to publicly post or speak about your response.

Orin &JosephSlater: I'd like to stress yet again that I'm not actively arguing for a repeal of the 19th Amendment, only arguing that its negative impact was not worth the benefit of more inclusive voting. It's too late to repeal it now. Joseph, there are no rights I'd want to take away from women, I just think we made a well-intentioned mistake in giving them the right to vote. And I've explained why. It's not because I think women are inferior or the property of men or any of the arguments used to justify opposing the women's franchise movement. My argument is based entirely on hindsight. The last women I had this talk with actually (to my great surprise) agreed with me.
12.17.2007 1:16pm
Gramarye:
Even granting arguendo that lower turnout could be a net positive for both the quality of elected leaders and the legitimacy of republican institutions (both of which I doubt), why exactly should women be considered so presumptively uninformed voters that it was a mistake to extend them the franchise? I can think of absolutely no legitimately plausible theoretical hypothesis and no empirical evidence to support such an absurdity.

Anyway, I'm done with this line of discussion. I'll be more than happy to rejoin if this thread veers back on topic.
12.17.2007 2:14pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Gramarye: I explained that in great detail in previous posts. To summarize, it's not so much that women are less informed than men (not at all, political ignorance is equal among the gengers), it's that the maternal instinct to protect children (which is not necessarily a bad thing) is too easy to influence and has turned modern american politics into nothing more than a "for the children" sincerity contest.
12.17.2007 2:27pm
tarheel:
BruceM:

I totally agree. I also think men should never have been allowed to vote since we always push for testosterone-soaked policies that favor aggression, overconfident certitude, and might-makes-right. Ya know, it's just in our nature.

Of course, if you reject that generalization you can't very well sustain your generalization. In any case, explain to me why policies that favor children are inherently worse for America than policies that make men feel comfortable (granting the incredibly silly assumption that men do not push for policies that favor children).
12.17.2007 3:10pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
tarheel: it's not that men don't favor children, it's that we don't have the maternal instinct that (sometimes irrationally) puts children above all else. It's an evolutionary instinct which is great for the species, but not great for political discourse.

Due to the media, particularly local nightly news, all women hear, aside from the weather report, is that sexual predators are everywhere, children are in danger from everything -- people are constantly going around snatching children, kidnapping them, raping them, molesting them; that every TV show, every picture, every movie, harms children; the internet is a danger for children, staplers are a danger for children, schools are a danger - your kids will be shot by other children, silverware is a danger for children, books are a danger for children, religions that are not yours are a danger to your children, and on and on, ad nauseum.

Politicians play on that and the result is political discourse has devolved to be entirely about "the children" and "our children" and "your children" ... that's all, nothing more.

If debate were constantly about war and fighting (and it seems to be within the Bush administration) I would make the same argument about men voting. But aggression is not the topic of debate nor the eternal, perpetual straw man. "Protecting the Children" is. And I contend it is a direct result of women being given the vote, and then being scared shitless about (fake or inflated) dangers that their children are in, which they can do nothing about.
12.17.2007 3:57pm
JosephSlater (mail):
BruceM:

While it's hardly worth debating your absurd stereotypes, I will point out that you somehow managed not to respond to my point that if women didn't have the vote, they wouldn't have a lot of the rights they currently and justly have. The only other thing I'll add is that if you think that most men believe women shouldn't have the vote and only say otherwise because they fear not getting "laid," you're kidding yourself.
12.17.2007 4:10pm
tarheel:
I actually agree with almost everything you said there -- the national discourse does seem badly out of whack at times. I'm not sure what the answer is, but I am pretty convinced it is not to feel sorry we gave women the vote. My initial proposal would be to ban local news, but apparently there is something in the Constitution about that.
12.17.2007 4:12pm
dew:
For some reason, the odd direction the discussion has taken in this thread reminds me of the "strangest thread ever"
12.17.2007 4:49pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
Bush is the problem, but it's not his insistence on or rewarding of loyalty to him, it's his loyalty to the rest of the Party. Or more precisely, his unwillingness to enforce discipline on Congressional Republicans.

Bush decided that he needed broad support for the War on Terror; he therefore decided he wasn't going to risk alienating Congressional Republicans by challenging them over pork-barrel spending and related corruption. Which allowed said Republicans to go hog-wild over the last six years.

Let's not forget that in 2006, Bush led Republicans to solid majorities in both Houses - and that those Republican majorities signally failed to do anything in the next two years except business as usual.

It isn't Bush that disgraced the Party.

Bush does bear a share of responsibility for the immigration debacle. But the resistance to immigration enforcement is at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
12.17.2007 6:10pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Tarheel: As much of a First Amendment lover as I am, I'd certainly feel more comfortable banning local news broadcasts than denying women the right to vote. I'd argue that local news has proven to have no value other than the weather report (which takes 2 minutes and can be shown during a commercial or at some other time between programs) and is thus not constitutionally protected speech. I'd be happy to make that argument and argue in support of it, I've done it before. Local news is so absolutely worthless that it falls into the class of unprotected speech like kiddie porn. "Do Bra's Cause Cancer - Tune In Tonight at 10 to Find Out!!" it is simply not protected by the first Amendment. Ditto for "Are Sexual Predators Roaming The Halls Of Your Children's Schools? Tune In Tonight At 10 To Find Out!!" I love the First Amendment and frankly I have a hard time accepting the premise that a mere picture (i.e. kiddie porn) can be contraband, without more. But local news is so damaging, so worthless, and all it does is frighten people (it's also the reason we have 30,000+ gun deaths per year, because local news scares everyone shitless for ratings) that I contend the First Amendment, in all its glory, does not protect it.

JosephSlater: Like I said, I'd be very unhappy about taking away women's right to vote. But other than legalized abortion (which I support) I don't see what rights women would not have today had they not received the 19th Amendment. My position is not "repeal the 19th Amendment" my position is the 19th amendment has done more harm than good and ruined political discourse by injecting the maternal instict to protect children above all else into primary political discourse.

Certainly it was a good thing to expand the right to vote to women. Same for blacks and other minorities. HOWEVER, I shouldn't be chastised for saying, in hindsight, there were some negative, unforeseen, externalities which resulted therefrom. All is not happy and fluffy just because more people can vote.
12.17.2007 6:25pm
JosephSlater (mail):
BruceM: This will be my last post on this topic, because really this thread should properly be about what a disappointing group of presidential hopefuls the Repubs are running this year.

I would suggest that if you think the only right women have that they wouldn't have had but for suffrage is abortion rights, you haven't thought very long or hard about this. Lots of other legal rules, from spousal rape laws to employment discrimination statutes, to a host of other laws, come to my mind fairly quickly. Consider what the legal landscape for women was generally in the late 19th and early 20th century, as compared to now.

Finally, you're not being chastised for generally wondering if expanded sufferage has had any downsides. You're being chastised for relying on outmoded, inaccurate, and yes, offensive stereotypes about one half of the human race.
12.17.2007 8:01pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Joseph: by your logic, homosexuals won't get the right to marry (or all the other rights currently denied them) until they get the right to vote. But they already do have the right to vote. It did not take women's suffrage to end spousal rape laws. Please.

The maternal instinct -- protecting children above all else -- is not a stereotype. It's a very fortunate evolutionary adaptation ingrained into the minds of not only female humans but most female mammals. The paternal instinct is not as overriding. For example, you represent a criminal defendant and you are going to call one parent as a character witness. Would you call the mother or the father? Clearly, you'd call the father. Every criminal defense lawyer I've ever met, myself included, concurs that you never call the defendant's mother to testify as a positive character witness. A mother's love is unconditional, and any serial killer's mother will still say her son is a good person -- she might even take the blame for his actions. A father, while still not the best character witness, is always preferable to the mother.

The maternal instinct is great for the survival of our species. It's horrible for political discourse because it is WAY too easy to take advantage of (and that's 50% of the voting base). And politicians take advantage of it incessantly. Count how many times a politician says "children" in any stump speech. And you cannot rebut "for the children" arguments. You want to permanently tattoo sex offenders blue so we can easily identify them, to protect the children. How can you argue against that, except to say you will tattoo them alternating blue and pink, so they are even easier to spot.

For the children. Every issue in american politics is solely about protecting the children or doing it for the children.

Except, unfortunately, properly funding education. Teachers Unions (teachers are good for children!) have destroyed the public school system. Prime example of "for the children" politics backfiring, as it always does.
12.17.2007 11:46pm
Truth Seeker:
With our upbringing and reverence for the Declaration of Independence with it's "consent of the governed", it is hard for most people to see the merits of Bruce's argument that not everyone should be allowed to vote. But when the D of I was written only white male property owners voted! So limiting voting in some way is not against our nation's principles, just against what we all think they are today.

The voter's quiz is a good idea but of course the party hacks would hand out cheat-sheets. I don't know what the solution is, but letting every idiot vote is not it.

Hey, maybe some good-government groups could be formed to hold all-day activities on election day like concerts with free food, free lottery tickets and a chance to be on TV. You would have to get there before the polls open and not be let out until they were closed.
12.18.2007 1:31am
BruceM (mail) (www):
TruthSeeker: My plan for the voters quiz would have at least 1000 race-neutral, very easy questions, picked by a non/bi-partisan group, and each ballot would have 10 multiple-choice questions randomly picked out of the 1000. The questions would be at the beginning of the ballot and would be answered the same way one casts a vote on the ballot (punch-card, whatever). I'm talking really easy questions, all relevant to government. Who is the current vice-president? Who was the last president? How many senators does your state have? What is the Capital of the United States? What country is directly to the north of America?

My preference would be to disqualify all ballots which do not get all 10 questions correct. Or at least 9 of the 10. But another option is to multiply an individual's number of votes by the number of questions they got correct. If they got all 10 questions wrong, their vote doesn't count. If they got 1 out of 10 right, they get one vote. If they get 10 out of 10, they get 10 votes. This way, the more informed you are, the more influental your ballot is. But, I'd prefer to disenfranchise the horrendously uninformed/misinformed.

I like the idea of distrations on election day. Free concerts, free corn syrup, see jerry springer live, be in a reality TV show, whatever. Hold American Idol try-outs only on election day. That alone would be a good start.

I was raised on and educated about the "consent of the governed" and agreed with the theory most of my life. Only in the past 5-10 years have I determined that people do not equate the legitimacy of their government with their right to vote. We certainly used to, when this country was founded. Now, as I said earlier, government legitimacy is based on strong military power for republicans, and social programs for which one qualifies for democrats. More military = more legitimate government for republicans, and more handouts = more legitimate government for democrats. The smallest amount of government necessary to protect people's rights = more legitimate government for libertarians (myself included).

Most Americans base the legitimacy of local governments (states, cities) on the number of professional sports franchises located therein. A city with a trifecta of NBA, NFL, and MLB teams is ipso facto extremely legitimate. A state with 3 NFL franchises is more legitimate than a state with 1.
12.18.2007 3:06am
JosephSlater (mail):
BruceM:

I'll make one more post just to counter the inaccurate right-wing talking point on teachers unions. In fact, when adjusting for other factors, a number of studies have shown that students in schools with unionized teachers do better on standardized tests and have higher graduation rates than students in similar schools where the teachers are not unionized. I assume you think good voters would check out actual facts on issues before making decisions, and I encourage you to do so.

Re your point on gay marriage, of course getting the vote isn't a sufficient condition for getting certain rights, but history has shown it's typically a necessary condition.
12.18.2007 9:51am
OrinKerr:
BruceM writes:
Do you really disagree with me on this? It seems so blatantly logical that I find it hard to reasonably disagree with. You can respond via email if you don't want to say something politically incorrect here, and I promise not to publicly post or speak about your response.
BruceM, not only do I really disagree with you, I find your ideas extremely disturbing. The fact that you find your views "blatantly logical" and can't fathom anyone "reasonably" disagreeing with you is part of what makes them so disturbing; you're revealing a remarkable lack of self-awareness by which your troubling views are not only acceptable but actually the only reasonable view of the world.

Based on your comments, the problem seems to be that you don't like the same candidates and policy positions that other voters like, so you want to take away their votes with the hope that the candidates and positions will become more to your personal liking. The jarring part is that you don't see this as trying to rig the electorate to bring it closer to your personal views; you somehow see it as an application of "logic" that will create an objective "improvement" in democracy. But your turn to logic is really just trying to hide your policy preferences; you may not see it, but I think other readers pretty easily do.
12.18.2007 11:21am
BruceM (mail) (www):
Orin: When I said "Do you really disagree with this" I meant the one position stated immediately beforehand. It seems you've responded globally to at least 3 different things I've been talking about.

There is a large number of people (many whom responded on this thread) and it's most certainly not a crackpot position to believe increasing voter turnout for voter turnout's sake, so as to increase the number of uninformed votes, does no service to democracy.

I think you're just blinded by what you assume is a hatred of women on my part, and thus feel compelled to globally disagree with me. That's fine.
12.18.2007 11:35am
BruceM (mail) (www):
http://volokh.com/posts/1155812746.shtml

Here's a thread on the esteemed Volokh Conspiracy that not only is based on my premise, but contains a large number of posters (probably a lot of whom insulted me here) agreeing with me.

You're esteemed co-blogger Ilya Somin asks "I have always wondered why so many people are concerned about voter turnout and and so few are concerned about the fact that most of the voters know little or nothing about what they're voting about."

I've always wondered the same thing, and when I wondered it on this thread, I got reamed up the ass for it.

I expect you to immeditely start a thread bashing the hell out of poor Ilya.

People are such hypocrites.
12.18.2007 11:42am
JosephSlater (mail):
BruceM:

Again breaking my word about not posting on this topic anymore. . . .While I didn't agree with Ilya in that thread, are you really saying that you can't tell the difference between:

(i) a general complaint that too many voters are uninformed about too many things, and

(ii) a specific allegation that women voters are inferior to male voters and that allowing women to vote has been harmful?
12.18.2007 11:50am
SenatorX (mail):
Bravo Orin.
12.18.2007 12:47pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

It's very simple.

Why should I vote for liberal Democrats who call themselves conservative Republicans?

If it's a choice between an ultra-liberal Democrat and an ultra-liberal Republican then there's not much of a choice is there?
12.18.2007 12:50pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Joseph: that was not what I asked Orin if he agreed with.

See my post at 12.17.2007 1:16pm.
12.18.2007 1:48pm
Truth Seeker:
Bravo Bruce.
12.18.2007 4:10pm
Mr. X (www):
Maybe. Maybe not. Picking up five supporters at the cost of losing fifteen would be an unadvisable tradeoff, and that may well be the kind of calculus that Republican candidates examining what would be necessary to pick up the Paul bloc after the primaries conclude would face. Paul essentially has a monopoly on those Republicans (and L/libertarians) who actually buy the line that America shoulders some (or much) of the blame for 9/11 and that we shouldn't project hard power abroad. However, while Dr. Paul has the monopoly on that vote, and therefore their truly ardent support, it's not the majority view among Republicans. It's not even really the majority view among centrists and swing voters, who are more concerned with this intervention (Iraq) than the abstract concept of any intervention.

A move by any "mainstream" GOP candidate towards a Paulish position on foreign policy risks alienating considerably more support than it garners.


To put a finer point on it, 30% of identified Republicans oppose the war. Ron Paul has a lock on that plurality. The other Republican candidates are fighting over the other 70% of the party.

The math for the pro-war candidates starts to get tricky, especially as more Republicans realize that Iraq is a dead-end strategy. Dr. Paul will do better than people think he will.
12.18.2007 4:59pm
OrinKerr:
BruceM,

JosephSlater had exactly the correct response to your most recent comment; you seem to be confusing two very different arguments. In any event, I am sorry I misunderstood what point you were making; I get confused with arguments sometimes and make errors like that. I hope you still think I am smart enough to vote!

As for your earlier comment, you wrote:
I firmly believe 25% voter turnout of highly-informed voters is far better for democracy than 60% voter turnout consisting of the 25% highly-informed voters and an additional 35% completely uninformed voters. (A) why is higher voter turnout, in and of itself, so wonderful, and (B) why should the uninformed have a controlling impact in choosing our leaders?
Two thoughts. First, turnout is a measure of the percentage of people eligible who actually vote, while your proposal was to deny people eligibility to vote. The two are completely different.

Second, who is a "highly informed" voter? Who is an "uninformed" voter? Is a voter who only cares about abortion and votes pro-life in absolutely every election (and stays uninformed about everything else) "uninformed"? What about a voter who always votes for the Democrat because they like liberal policies, although they haven't read a newspaper in 5 years? And do you think "uninformed" voters vote differently than "informed" voters?
12.18.2007 6:59pm
BruceM (mail) (www):
Orin: Apology accepted, I realize I've been making several different arguments on this thread in response to several different posters, so I can understand where the confusion came from.

Let me address your second thought first. Who is and who is not a highly-informed/semi-informed/uninformed voter is a great question and I don't claim to know the answer, though I've offered a few potential ways to address it, such as the 10-question quiz on each ballot. I think determining who the uninformed voters are is sufficient to weed them out and we can presume that everyone else is sufficiently informed to vote. I'm not saying only the super/highly-informed people should be able to vote, I'm arguing the converse; that is, uninformed voters should not be permitted to vote (or their vote should be devalued by some factor)

It's not that I think uninformed voters vote "differently" than informed voters, I think it's a matter of data quality, an election by informed voters would presumably produce a better winner than an election by uninformed voters. Ballots convey information. Put poor quality data in, get poor quality data out. I believe that a minimal - minimal level of knowledge about America (who was the last president?), American civics (Which branch of government executes the law?), and the planet (Which country is directly south of America?) should be a pre-requisite to being allowed to have one's ballot counted.

Under my 10-questions on the ballot plan, people would disenfranchise themselves. They could still vote, but a measure of very basic knowledge would determine whether their vote counts, or how much it counts, etc. I would not pre-disqualify anyone from voting. I'd let them disqualify themselves based on the most basic query into their knowledge. I would not even make the questions as difficult as those immigrants are required to answer in the American citizenship test. Though maybe that's not a bad idea. Why should we expect more from immigrants than we do from ourselves? At least in order to be legally permitted to participate in the American political system.

Returning to your first thought, I was merely responding to the people who suggest the more eligible voters who vote, the better. Many people are bothered by low voter turnout in America, especially compared to other nations, and believe the opportunity cost of voting should be reduced as much as possible (e.g. make election day a federal holiday so people don't have to miss work to vote, auomatic voter registration, etc.). I disagree. 80% voter turnout is not necessarily better for democracy than 30% voter turnout. Increasing turnout for the sake of higher turnout is, in my opinion, a horrendously bad idea.

But ignore my ideas involving disenfranchisement for a moment and ignore everything I've said about the 19th Amendment, and merely read that one paragraph I wrote to which you were kind enough to just respond. All I was asking is if you disagreed with my negative answers to questions A and B.

Based on your writings on this blog and in other places, which I agree with at least 90% of the time, I was merely saying I would be surprised if you are one of those people who would rather have higher voter turnout merely out of principal, regardless of the quality (however you want to measure it) of the additional voters. And I would be surprised if you believed that uninformed (howeever you want to define/measure it) voters should be encouraged to vote so that their votes have the impact of negating all the non-uninformed (informed) votes.

That's all I was asking you, which I think we've cleared up now.
12.18.2007 8:03pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Entirely abandoning the idea I'm going to stop posting in this thread. . . .

OK, let's forget about women as a group. Let's accept, arguendo, the premise that more informed/educated voters are better voters and would elect a government that would be better for all.

Why stop at just your basic 10 questions? Why not require more, say, a college degree? Heck, I have a PhD, and what if I were to propose that only PhDs get to vote? Sure, that would be me suggesting a pool of voters that would include me, exclude many others, and probably lead to more electoral results that I personally favor, but the same could be said about your apparently ideal world of who could vote.

Bottom line: assuming more knowledge makes one better qualified to vote, why make the cut-off as low as you want to make it?
12.19.2007 10:27am
Thoughtful (mail):
To be fair to Bruce here, I definitely recall Friedrich Hayek making the point, possibly in Capitalism and the Historians, a book he edited, that while there was much to say about extending the franchise, the growth in government power became much harder to control when people who didn't own property were allowed to vote, for the simply reason that now there were voters who didn't have to pay for the services they were asking the government to provide.

I also recall Lysander Spooner, a major intellectual influence on one of the VC bloggers, arguing at the inception of arguments for women's suffrage, that women had exactly as much right to vote as men, which is to say None. :-)

I don't think many felt Hayek, a Nobel prize winner, was poorly informed or horribly anti-social (racist, misogynistic, etc.), so perhaps even as we disagree we could consider Bruce M's position more respectfully.
12.19.2007 11:01pm