Friday, May 24, 2013
Between 1,000 and 2,000 marchers supporting a coalition named Stand For Freedom took to the streets in New York City on Dec. 10.
This crowd included representation from the NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union, Service Employees International Union, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Communist Party, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, Hispanic Federation, United Federation of Teachers, Action Network, National Organization for Women, several Democratic politicians and many more.
The freedom they stood up for was the freedom to vote. Their targets are the more than 30 states making efforts to curb voter fraud, by all states that forbid convicted felons to vote and all by jurisdictions denying the right to illegal aliens.
Some may suspect that the coalition's real objective is to increase the number of voters they expect to pull the Democratic lever. This is only a suspicion, however, since none of the standers admit to any such motive. It can't be proved.
The SEIU spokeswoman declared the group's ostensible purpose in these words: "Voting rights are being challenged all across the United States. People have died for the right to vote. We can't just sit by and let our rights be taken from us."
This is a little odd coming from an organization whose No. 1 legislative priority is the card-check, abolishing the worker's right to a secret ballot in union certification elections, but let's take her at her word.
Still, part of the woman's statement should be challenged. We are entitled to doubt that anyone in any war ever died for people's right not to wait in line, or the right to commit fraud, or, least of all, for the right of foreigners to vote in a country they entered illegally.
The larger question is this: Are we improving democracy by multiplying the number of voters? One possible answer is that the authority of our government is derived entirely from the consent of the People. It seems to follow that as the government's authority increases over every area of our life, we need lots more consent to legitimize and justify its busy-ness.
People who like that sort government and have an appetite for abstract theorizing may find this reason enough. Others may doubt that our government will be improved by increasing the number of ignorant, lazy, ill-informed and indifferent voters.
This is not to say that an illegal alien is necessarily ignorant or that a felon who has done well in the burglarious profession is ill-informed about legal issues or that people who hate to stand in line are not equal to mastering the issues of the day.
It's just that habitual nonvoters are more likely to be indifferent to political issues and some assume that many of them are on the wrong slope of the I.Q. bell curve.
The Stand for Freedom Coalition has nothing to say -- yet -- about lowering the voting age to 16 or 17, but there are those who think this is an idea whose time has come.
Lani Guinier, a tenured professor at Harvard Law School who Bill Clinton nominated in 1993 for assistant attorney general for civil rights has advocated this.
Clinton subsequently changed his mind after Sen. David Pryor, D-Ark., and Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., advised him that Guinier had written some weird stuff that wasn't going over well with their colleagues.
Still the idea is being discussed. Susan Maas, a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor, published an article in October 2012 titled "It's time to extend voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds."
In it she affirms, "I've always felt strongly that we need to expand political participation, not decrease it." She thinks her 13-year-old son knows more about political issues than many voters she has met going door-to-door on behalf of a candidate she favors, and affirms that while 13 is "probably" too young, asks "why can't the many bright, engaged, aware 16- and 17-year-olds we know weigh in this November?"
So there it is.
There are a lot of voting rights questions to be considered. Why shouldn't 13-year-olds be allowed to vote if our objective is to multiply the quantity rather than quality of voters? Why not 10-year-olds, if the habits of personal responsibility are not at issue?
And why are Maas and Guinier allowed to vote?
Professor John Frary of Farmington, Maine is a former congressional candidate and retired history professor, a Board Member of Maine Taxpayers United and publisher of www.fraryhomecompanion.com and can be reached at: email@example.com