Friday, June 3, 2016

Democracy For All (Educated, Wealthy, And White)

An OpEd in the Washington Post suggests Americans should be required to pass a test before  being allowed to vote. The idea is that this would weed out ignorant voters.

I responded:

Define ignorant.  My definition will be wildly different from Trump's. Who designs the test? Administers it? Scores it?

This reminds me very much of an old ploy used by the Soviet Union. Public relations were an important aspect of the Cold War. The Soviets made great gains in this area out of America's treatment of minorities and out of our Jim Crow laws.   We made great gains in this area out of the Soviets treatment of dissidents.

In order to protect themselves from this effective criticism, the Russian communists came up with a very clever solution. They started with the undeniable fact that communism was a scientific system of governance and economics.  Since it was the only scientifically designed government, it was proven to be the most effective and best government available on earth. Therefore, anyone who thought that it was a bad system must be insane. This person was not a dissident. This person was mentally ill. In order to protect these poor victims of their own delusions from harming themselves and others it was necessary to place them in a mental institution.

You get the picture.

In an age when there is a serious attempt to destroy democracy in America by rigging elections through computer guided gerrymandering and voter ID laws, it should be obvious to everyone that this is just another way for government to deny people the right to vote if those people are likely to vote in the "wrong" way.

Down south it was the literacy test which prevented minorities from voting. It's remarkable how many college graduates and professionals, who happened to also be Black, failed the literacy test. It was also amazing how many Whites, many of whom had difficulty reading the TV Guide, passed it easily.

So unless they're going to appoint me the test creator, chief administrator, and creator of the criteria for passing or failing; this is a bad idea.

PS, I wouldn't test for trivia regarding details of governance. I would test for critical thinking skills.

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