License to Vote

 

Did you hear the news? About President Obama recently suggesting American citizens be required to obtain licenses in order to vote? Indeed, if this comes to pass, we may soon have to take a government mandated, online examination every two years. And only those with a ‘requisite knowledge of current events’ and an ‘appropriate constitutional acumen’ would be allowed to vote in future elections.

For the record, I would object. And though it’s not yet April Fools Day, I couldn’t resist an early effort, for the sake of much-needed argument. Indeed, how could Americans take something as sacrosanct as voting and change it from a right, to be exercised freely, into a privilege that must be earned every two years? That would be every bit as objectionable as making voting mandatory, thereby requiring all citizens to vote in every election, whether they wish to or not (sort of like filing one’s tax return). Also for the record, this idea of mandatory voting is one the President has actually proffered, and some on the left have endorsed.

A right is truly such when people exercise it freely. Once voting is decreed either a privilege or a mandate, it can no longer be exercised as a right. Would not such control by the state be the antithesis of democracy? Would it not be something more akin to fascism?

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