Against a Universal Franchise

February 10, 2009 § 24 Comments

Proposition: It is far more important that the electorate be of outstanding moral character, prudence, and wisdom than it is to extend the franchise to as many people as possible or to ensure that every conceivable interest group is formally represented by voters who are members of that group. Other things equal, it is better to live in a good polity without the right to vote than it is to live in a tyrannical, decadent polity with the right to vote.

(Cross-posted)

Tagged:

§ 24 Responses to Against a Universal Franchise

  • Tim J. says:

    True.However, this is a little like saying that if we would only all agree to act unselfishly and look out for one another’s interests, we wouldn’t need the law courts or the police.It is true. It will never happen.There are many people – many with whom I would substantially agree, and many with whom I would vehemently disagree on almost every aspect of culture and morality – who would find this idea of an elite electorate very appealing. The whole thing hinges on who gets to formulate the test.

  • Tom says:

    This proposition implies a significant duty to see to it that the electorate be of outstanding moral character, prudence, and wisdom.

  • Kilroy says:

    Two things come to mind. First: if a virtuous life can only be lead voluntarily, then morality cannot be enforced by law. Second: under what conditions is denying the right of some to participate in the executive/legislative function of the State characteristic of a society of ‘<>outstanding moral character, prudence, and wisdom<>‘? It is conceivable that restricting the franchise may be a moral act, but there are far too many conditions precedent to consider before Zippy’s question can be properly answered. I think the questions that have to be answered first are <>[1]<> What is the role of politics in the State <>[2]<> What is the role of the State <>[3]<> What are the effects of universal suffrage <>[4]<> How do these effects offend (if at all) against the purpose of the State <>[5]<> How can politics, properly understood in the context to the answer to the first question, resolve the negative impact (if any) of universal suffrage to the purpose of the State?

  • zippy says:

    <>Second: under what conditions is denying the right of some to participate in the executive/legislative function of the State characteristic of a society of ‘outstanding moral character, prudence, and wisdom’?<>Under all conditions. There has never been a society with literally <>universal<> suffrage. So the question of who should <>not<> govern is always a pertinent and reasonable one.It seems to me that being ruled by the wrong sort of people is very dangerous to the common good. That is far more important than any worries about <>excluding<> good people from governance. Some good people are always excluded from governance in particular times and places. The important thing is that those who govern are good, prudent, and wise; not that everyone who is good governs. Given that, a narrow franchise available only to people who meet certain criteria is better than a more (but never completely) universal franchise.

  • Rodak says:

    <>It seems to me that being ruled by the wrong sort of people is very dangerous to the common good.<>It seems to me to be arguable that only the <>wrong<> sort of people <>want<> to govern.

  • zippy says:

    <>It seems to me to be arguable that only the wrong sort of people want to govern.<>That is a real problem, to be sure. But it is a <>different<> problem, since this discussion is about the scope of the franchise, and in that context I was using “govern” as shorthand for “choose who will govern”.

  • Rodak says:

    But what good is a Socrates with the franchise and no Philosopher King on the ticket?

  • zippy says:

    Despair and concomitant ambivalence is always an option, at least if you aren’t a Christian.

  • Rodak says:

    How can a Christian’s “kingdom” be of this world, if his King’s is not?

  • zippy says:

    For a guy who pretends that politics is not an appropriate activity for Christians, you seem to spend a lot of time talking and worrying about politics.

  • Rodak says:

    <>you seem to spend a lot of time talking and worrying about politics.<>Mostly to argue that politics is not the way to solve moral problems.I do, of course, occasionally opine that, since politics seems to be inevitable, the politics of the left, with its concern for the poor, is closer to Christianity than the politics of the right, with its focus on property rights.

  • William Luse says:

    <>the politics of the left, with its concern for the poor, is closer to Christianity than the politics of the right, with its focus on property rights.<>Actually, the left’s focus on property rights is far more malign. They consider human babies in utero to be the disposable property of their mothers.

  • Rodak says:

    Do you have a second note to play, Bill? Or have you just exhausted your repertoire?

  • Kilroy says:

    ‘<>the politics of the left, with its concern for the poor, is closer to Christianity than the politics of the right, with its focus on property rights.<>’The use of the work ‘<>concern<>’ is revealing. All you have to do, according to the left, is have a ‘<>concern<>’ for a problem to be designated a moral person, instead of actually doing anything about it.The left’s ‘<>concern<>’ for the poor has kept them poor <>via<> the welfare spiral. Respect for property, on the other hand, is a basis upon which to create a society that develops a work ethic and the conditions to work out of poverty.

  • Kilroy says:

    Zippy, referring to your reply to my question regarding the conditions under which the franchise ought to be, should be, could be limited: I have a proposition. ‘The vote’ is not a right but a <>privilege<>. Do you agree?

  • Kilroy says:

    I wish to clarify my previous statement:‘<>The left’s ‘concern’ for the poor has kept them poor via the welfare spiral. Respect for property, on the other hand, is a basis upon which to create a society that develops a work ethic and the conditions to work out of poverty.<>‘… accordingly, it is the Right that takes the more Christian position with respect to the underclass, not the Left.

  • zippy says:

    Kilroy:I would suggest that voting is neither a right nor a privilege. Like any authority to rule, it is a <>responsibility<>. And like other responsibilities to rule, there is no valid reason whatsoever for it to be <>universal<>: indeed there are many good reasons for it not to be universal.

  • Kilroy says:

    Hello again Zippy.The casting of a vote is not an exercise of an ‘<>authority to rule<>’ therefore I don’t find this line of reasoning very clear.There are responsibilities associated with many things: even the most basic idea such as the ownership of property. By your reasoning, if the consonant responsibility is not discharged, people should not be allowed to own tangibles or intangibles.I think you have to clarify whether you believe there is such a creature as an <>inherent right<> and a <>conditional right<>; whether in fact a conditional right is a <>right<> properly understood (or rather a privilege granted under positivist law or some higher authority).I tend to think that the franchise is a privilege, and one that should not simply be granted upon reaching majority. My problem then is to design a moral system according to which the privilege is granted.Do you have any suggestions?

  • zippy says:

    Obviously we just don’t agree: I think the franchise <>is<> an authority to rule, since an authority to choose who rules is a species of authority to rule, and therefore discussing who ought to have it supervenes over a discussion of who ought to rule. And I’m not particularly fond of rights-talk in general (e.g. < HREF="http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2007/05/the_wrong_stuff.html" REL="nofollow">see here<> as just one example of my polemic against rights-talk).

  • Kilroy says:

    ‘<>I think the franchise is an authority to rule, since an authority to choose who rules is a species of authority to rule, and therefore discussing who ought to have it supervenes over a discussion of who ought to rule.<>‘I see. In that case, I can’t see how I’m disagreeing with you – what I’m getting at is: what practical measures do you suggest should be employed to grant the franchise?

  • zippy says:

    I made some < HREF="https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2009/02/cosmo-vote.html?showComment=1234276740000#c1277580845937630707" REL="nofollow">suggestions<> in the comments of the prior post which led to this one.

  • Kilroy says:

    The solution being that the franchise be restricted to the ‘<>never-divorced male head of a household<>‘ ‘<>with both sons and daughters<>‘ being ‘<>biological<>‘ (< HREF="https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2009/02/cosmo-vote.html?showComment=1234276740000#c1277580845937630707" REL="nofollow"><>The Cosmo Vote<> Tuesday, February 10, 2009 9:39:00 AM<>). As you mentioned, there is no perfect system, but for this proposition to work, it would have to be <>(a)<> accepted democratically by an electorate as it is presently constituted, and therefore would require the total rejection of left <>and<> right liberal autonomy theory first, or <>(b)<> violent counter-revolution. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground because any compromise would just ultimately lead towards present day liberalism.

  • zippy says:

    Kilroy:I agree, on both points, though the possibility of (c) some calamity or (d) the intervention of Providence also come to mind.

  • Kilroy says:

    Re (c) Calamity. I have often discussed the impact of a ‘moment of acute disturbance’ on our hedonistic society, with my colleagues. They always point to the cyclical civil disturbances in Paris among the ‘youth’ and conclude that burning cars and street warfare hasn’t been capable of waking Europe up to the perils of an indiscriminate immigration policy and a relativist attitude to all religions. Accordingly, it’s frightful to imagine just how extreme this episode would have to be for the West to truly shake off liberalism. I think we really are at the mercy of (d) the ‘<>intervention of providence<>‘!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Against a Universal Franchise at Zippy Catholic.

meta

%d bloggers like this: