Monday, November 03, 2008

Why Voting Shouldn't Be That Big a Deal

Today is election day and you've probably heard round-the-clock public service announcements from celebrities on TV, radio, and youtube telling you to "get out and vote, no matter what, no excuses" because "you have a public duty" and "the stakes are too big for you to stay home."

I would rephrase this announcement to say get out and vote, but only if you already planned on doing it (before Leonardo DiCaprio or Ben Affleck commanded you) and only if you actually know what's going on in this country. People that have to have MTV tell them to get off their ass and pull the lever are already clueless and probably don't pay taxes. Frankly, they should do the public a duty by not voting.

But statements like "the stakes are too big to stay home" bring focus to a larger point that's really worth discussing. If our politicians and judges actually obeyed the Constitution instead of doing violence to it at every twist and turn, the stakes really shouldn't be that big on the election day, and choosing our president shouldn't be that big a deal. The founding fathers designed the presidency to be the head of state and commander-in-chief of our armed forces should Congress declare war, and little else.

The fact that the stakes are so big illustrates just how powerful, intrusive, and omnipresent the federal government has become in our economic and personal lives, and how ignored our original Constitution is.

You'll also hear pundits say how the "right to vote is what made America great." Well, there's some truth to that, but I don't think voting is the most important right we as citizens have. What about the right to private property, to freedom of assembly, to own a firearm, to earn and keep the fruits of one's labor, to trade freely with others?

If these aforementioned rights were as fiercely protected under the Constitution as originally intended, the right to vote wouldn't be as nearly as big a deal as it is today. It simply wouldn't matter if the president was Republican or Democrat, because neither would have the ability to benefit or burden us as private individuals. It wouldn't matter who was appointed to the Supreme Court, because each justice's role would be limited to interpreting laws instead of writing new ones from the bench and determining social policy for 300 million people. It wouldn't matter which party controlled Congress because $3 trillion of our tax dollars wouldn't be up for grabs to be wasted at the whim of the lobbyists and interest groups that feed (gorge might be the better term) at the federal trough. The redistributive state as we know it wouldn't be allowed to exist.

A few decades ago (not sure if it still holds true today) it was said that the best-run government in the world was Switzerland, yet you could walk up to someone on the streets there and ask them who the president was and get a blank stare in return: so few people there actually knew who their own head of state was, not because they were ignorant, but because the national government played such a non-role in that country's society.

I'm not saying let's all pack our bags and move to Switzerland, but, like millions of fellow young voters today, I have that magical "HOPE." Hope that some day, this country will return to a constitutional republic where government is small, limited, and insubstantial. After glancing at Messrs. Obama's and McCain's platforms for no more than, say, 10 seconds, it becomes apparent I won't be able to hold my breath waiting for that day to come.

13 comments:

Ryan said...

Probably my favorite post of yours ever.

Nick said...

wow...great post.

MacKenzie said...

Pat, your correct usage of Messrs. kind of turns me on.

Barstool69 said...

Well I think it could be reasonably argued that the framers didn't want the populace to select our leader anyways.

MacKenzie said...

I agree with barstool. Wasn't the electoral college created because the guys in charge thought that regular Americans weren't informed enough to make such decisions?

Barstool69 said...

The Electoral College is an anachronistic compromise between the large and small states. It was literally a back room deal that found a middle ground between those that didn't want the President to be beholden to a Legislature, but also didn't want a popularly elected leader. We read a book about it in one of my classes three years ago and while I don't really remember a single specific fact, I came away with the idea that what we have today was in no way the system intended by the framers...

Joan said...

One of the premises is wrong - no one in the United States has a constitutional "right to vote" in a presidential election:
http://writ.news.findlaw.com/dorf/20001213.html
and
http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/00-949.ZPC.html

But don't worry. If we can get enough people backing it, the FairTax would take the power from the federal level and give it back to the states and the populace where it belongs.

Barstool69 said...

Ah the fair tax-great to talk about, impossible to implement.

HANK said...

The Federal Income Tax is Unconstitutional.

One good outcome of the South winning the War Between the States would have been the a natural limit on the Federal Government's ability to tax it's citizens.

Barstool69 said...

How exactly can something that is part of the Constitution be unconstitutional?

Snuffy said...

Hank, you ignorant, white trash cracker, if the South had won, Jim Walsh would have never made his way to BC.

HANK said...

Barstool, you are correct, I typed without thinking long enough. I know the 16th amendment, i think, was passed to levy the federal income tax system.

My inference, albeit not a clear one, was that it too can be reasonably argued the Framers never intended or wanted a Federal Income Tax System.

Barstool69 said...

There were certainly a lot of things they obviously could not have foreseen, hence the ability to amend the constitution. As our nation grew, we realized that it would be necessary for the government to be more involved in many different areas (obviously not to the extent they are today) and thus needed an expanded tax base. While they may have not contemplated a Federal Income Tax, they allowed for its possibility.

I think the difference with the Electoral College is that it has never been legislatively altered in a way that would reflect what it is now. The structure still exists to carry out the framers' wishes, but our governments (state and federal) don't seem to fall in line.