One Man, One Vote ~ What a Sham

The Framers really didn’t believe in those famous words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”  We are not equal, we never have been — never will be.

I never thought of myself as being elitist, not until Barack Obama was labeled this by Hillary Clinton for comments he had made about the every-day, working class people of Pennsylvania.  But I guess, for thinking the way I do, one might call me this too. 

According to Wikipedia, an elitist is one who believes that those who have outstanding personal abilities, intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, wisdom, or other distinctive attributes – are those whose views are to be taken most seriously and are thus, best fit to govern.  It does not mean that one who is a member of some elite group, whether academically, socially, or professionally, necessarily looks down upon those who, by choice or by circumstance, do not measure up. Nor does it mean that an elitist necessarily considers him or herself to be elite.

What I’m saying here, in case you haven’t anticipated where I’m going with this, is that we all should want someone this time around who is in-fact elite by virtue of intellect, experience, and wisdom to be the leader of the free world.  Which brings me to the premise of this posting… if we believe that we truly have a demo- cratic process for selecting our nation’s leaders, that there really is such a thing as One Man, One Vote (or I guess I should I say, One Person, One Vote), we’re just kidding ourselves.  Delegates select the winners of elections, voters don’t.  And, within the Democratic Party at least, there are delegates and then there are delegates – superdelegates, those whose votes count more than those of the common delegates.  Why?  Because the elite don’t trust the judg- ment of We the People – they never have.  And make no mistake about it; the Framers of the Constitution were elite as well as elitist.  All were educated, all were relatively wealthy, all were considered to be wise, even if they all were not, and all were free, white men who considered themselves to be superior to any woman and anyone who was not white.

Think back for a moment about what we learned in our govern- ment and/or civics classes in high school.  Recall that there was nothing in the original Constitution guaranteeing individuals the right to vote.  That was left up to the discretion of the individual states, and the rules varied from one state to the next.  But what was consistent from one state to the next was that only free, white men, men who owned property and who were not in debt, were allowed to vote.  So the Framers really didn’t believe in those famous words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” We are not equal, we never have been – we never will be.  Each of us is uniquely special — different from everyone else.  What was in the Constitution, from day-one, was the process by which our Presidents are selected, the Electoral College.

Now, here’s an idea to chew on, one that I already know won’t fly.  I know it won’t because my wife thinks it’s a stupid idea, and her opinion is usually pretty good when it comes to my ideas.  But bear with me, if only for the sake of intelectual discourse.  Logically, I think it makes sense.  I call it “voter scaling.” 

Resolved, we should get rid of the Electoral College altogether.  Further resolved, we should get rid of the delegate selection process too, in all political parties.  Instead, by Constitutional amendment so that it would apply uniformly to all citizens, we should institute procedures allowing us to elect our leaders directly – one man (person), one vote… well, sort of.  To do this in a way that would ensure good judgments and minimize the influence of special interests, wealth, and the status quo at all levels of govern- ment, we should give the most weight to the votes of those among us who are the most elite in terms of education, civic conscience, altruism, and patriotic service.  Notice that I have left out wealth and social status as determinants of eliteness. 

Okay, let’s say that every citizen gets a vote (one point), regard- less of their level of education or other factors.  Let’s say too, that everybody that graduates from high school gets another point (a second vote), completing college would qualify one for a third point, completing graduate studies, a fourth point, completing doctorate studies a fifth point.  Let’s say too, that for serving our country honorably, either in uniform or in something like the Peace Corps, one would gain an additional point regardless of one’s level of education.

We could make this democratic algorithm even more sophisticated by allowing individuals to buy influence, not by contributing to political campaigns as is currently done, but by contributing time, money and other resources, to the common good.  Maybe teachers and civil servants should have marginally more influence.  Maybe sitting judges, winners of the Nobel Peace prize and recipients of the Presidential Freedom Award should get extra points. And just to make sure that nobody feels like their vote isn’t important, perhaps we should consider adopting the Australian practice of fining citizens for not voting.

To really fix what’s wrong with government today, I would further advocate the passage of strong campaign finance legislation and a term-limits Constitutional amendment for members of congress.

But, alas, I know my wife is right.  All this is just elitist blah, blah, blah.  Those who are in power today would never allow any of this to happen.

Feel free, please, to comment pro or con on this.  I look forward to reading your reactions.

Published in: on May 3, 2008 at 6:40 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Kent, Ireally had to muse over your idea of giving points to voters. How would one verify that a voter had a high school, college or graduate degree? The verification process could take a year or more. Why not just use the popular vote and be done with it? I have seen or rather know some people with degrees who are unable to think rationally and better yet, know less than a middle school student. Now I like the idea of fining those who do not vote.

  2. You are correct, Nancy. Voter scaling would require us to do a better job of documenting and tracking identity, but the technology is available. Next generation, chip-based miltary ID cards can contain vast amounts of data, to include assignment records, equipment/weapons certification, and medical information. So, for little more than the cost of producing state drivers’ licenses, we could develop cost-effective National ID cards to serve multiple/secure purposes, like voter registration, work permits, radio/telephone equipment and vehicle/aircraft operator licensing, teacher certification and academic transcript data. Voter weighting could be done automatically at polling places using current generation voting machines with little more than additional lines of software. But Americans, I know, are very leery of going down this road… just one of many the reasons this idea will never get off the ground.

    Yes, I know some college graduates too who have less common sense than some high school drop-outs. But, on the whole, I have to believe that those who complete higher levels of education, especially from fully-accredited institutions, are more apt to make better choices.

  3. Kent, I agree with you that we should get rid of the Electoral College as well as the superdelegate process. However, I don’t agree with the voter scaling. It’s true that based on what has gone on this election season, that it does appear that the “One man, one vote” theory is a scam. But I will continue to believe that it’s important to continue to exercise our right to vote. We have too many people who died and made sarifices so that we might have that right.

  4. Thank you, Thelma. Most Americans believe as you do. In my judgment, however, we will never be able to get rid of the Electoral College without substituting some mechanism to reduce concerns about the uneducated masses making poor choices. It would take a Consitution amendment, which is most unlikely to ever happen because those who are in power must agree to it, even if it were to start as a grassroots movement. Of course, the 2004 Presidental race proved the exception to the Founders’ wisdom on this; most Americans now know that it was the system that failed, not the peoples’ collective wisdom.

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