A Quick Fix to Restore Faith in Democracy

Democracy is just like anything else that's good in life, and that means it has to be moderated.  To this a lot of Americans respond that we don't live in a democracy; we live in a democratic republic, and I think saying anything this obvious and unhelpful should disqualify them for the vote.

In fact, there are too many voters to keep this republic afloat, too many voters who don't know the difference between a federal and a national system of government, too many who can't tell the difference between the judicial system and the legislature, who honestly believe that policing policemen is the business of the president, who believe that if we don't have a transgender Siskiyou in office that neither transgenders nor Siskiyous are being represented in office, who insist the Bill of Rights was intended to be taken literally, that our civil rights began with the Civil Rights Movement, and that pure chaos wouldn't result from a right to practice any religion in entirety.  A simple I.Q. bar of 80 would eliminate half of these dunces, probably a fifth of Americans in general, and a subsequent civics test would eliminate the other half – which would exclude another fifth.

There's an idea that the more of us vote, the better, but this idea that people who are too dumb to understand anything other than physical pain or starvation or ugliness should be directing the nation is so absurd on its face that only recently has the majority even believed it.  We know that the Founding Fathers didn't, and as such, I would add to this list of excludables people who don't pay any federal income taxes or own property worth more than $50,000 – in other words, people who don't actually give to the country and people who aren't productive enough yet to actually own any of the country.  No stake, no payout.  All soldiers serving honorably would immediately get suffrage.

Rejects could vote in their own particular states if the states were dumb enough to let them, but the rest of us would be free of the other coast's respectable citizens who think Obama is going to pay for new phones and end black-on-black crime in Chicago, or the trade union hillbillies who believe we shouldn't be allowed to buy tires from China and that the Constitution was based on the Bible.  The payouts would be extraordinary.  The actual citizen of the United States of America would converse like a free citizen; the vote would be cherished like all cherished things (in other words, because of its rarity); and the underclasses and idiots, pandered to by the media and dragging the national dialogue down to prepubescent squabbles and Black Friday fistfights, would go back to watching their porn and arguing about basketball stats and inventing new handshakes to give one another.

There's only one thing standing in the way: how would we go about doing this?  How could you convince more than a third of the American public that they don't know anything about government and that this genuine ignorance, the kind that not only doesn't know or want to know, but believes that it already knows as much as it needs to know, to throw away their so-called "unalienable rights," the origins of which they can't explain, supposedly from the God Who refuses to speak?

The answer is simple.  Insist, with every ounce of passion you can possibly muster, that people who've never studied the U.S. Constitution are incapable of understanding the government and that as you would never go to a doctor who'd never gone to college, and you'd never go to a mechanic who'd never spent time under a car's hood, you would never want a master completely ignorant of political science.  We require everyone to pass a test before he's allowed to drive a car, and in some places, you don't even have to show an ID to drive the country.  You can't even have sex with most strangers in many states until you're 18, but the second you turn 18, you can screw over the nation.

Contrary to the brilliant and offensive suggestions above, all Americans could apply for this higher level of citizenship.  All of them could take a standardized test, written in plain language, about The Federalist, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and in a dream world maybe even the Second Treatise of Government.  It wouldn't even be written, but multiple choice, taken every four years, with a $40 fee and courses online and testing in every county.  You can retake it if you fail it, and the second time you take it, the fees are cut in half.

The argument against it will be that everyone, completely regardless of his stupidity or ignorance, should be allowed to literally direct the future of this country.  In this case, we'll do the unthinkable.  We'll take them at their word, threaten to open the vote to our three-year-olds, and say babies should be viable candidates for the presidency.

Jeremy Egerer is the author of the troublesome essays on Letters to Hannah, and he welcomes followers on Twitter and Facebook.

Democracy is just like anything else that's good in life, and that means it has to be moderated.  To this a lot of Americans respond that we don't live in a democracy; we live in a democratic republic, and I think saying anything this obvious and unhelpful should disqualify them for the vote.

In fact, there are too many voters to keep this republic afloat, too many voters who don't know the difference between a federal and a national system of government, too many who can't tell the difference between the judicial system and the legislature, who honestly believe that policing policemen is the business of the president, who believe that if we don't have a transgender Siskiyou in office that neither transgenders nor Siskiyous are being represented in office, who insist the Bill of Rights was intended to be taken literally, that our civil rights began with the Civil Rights Movement, and that pure chaos wouldn't result from a right to practice any religion in entirety.  A simple I.Q. bar of 80 would eliminate half of these dunces, probably a fifth of Americans in general, and a subsequent civics test would eliminate the other half – which would exclude another fifth.

There's an idea that the more of us vote, the better, but this idea that people who are too dumb to understand anything other than physical pain or starvation or ugliness should be directing the nation is so absurd on its face that only recently has the majority even believed it.  We know that the Founding Fathers didn't, and as such, I would add to this list of excludables people who don't pay any federal income taxes or own property worth more than $50,000 – in other words, people who don't actually give to the country and people who aren't productive enough yet to actually own any of the country.  No stake, no payout.  All soldiers serving honorably would immediately get suffrage.

Rejects could vote in their own particular states if the states were dumb enough to let them, but the rest of us would be free of the other coast's respectable citizens who think Obama is going to pay for new phones and end black-on-black crime in Chicago, or the trade union hillbillies who believe we shouldn't be allowed to buy tires from China and that the Constitution was based on the Bible.  The payouts would be extraordinary.  The actual citizen of the United States of America would converse like a free citizen; the vote would be cherished like all cherished things (in other words, because of its rarity); and the underclasses and idiots, pandered to by the media and dragging the national dialogue down to prepubescent squabbles and Black Friday fistfights, would go back to watching their porn and arguing about basketball stats and inventing new handshakes to give one another.

There's only one thing standing in the way: how would we go about doing this?  How could you convince more than a third of the American public that they don't know anything about government and that this genuine ignorance, the kind that not only doesn't know or want to know, but believes that it already knows as much as it needs to know, to throw away their so-called "unalienable rights," the origins of which they can't explain, supposedly from the God Who refuses to speak?

The answer is simple.  Insist, with every ounce of passion you can possibly muster, that people who've never studied the U.S. Constitution are incapable of understanding the government and that as you would never go to a doctor who'd never gone to college, and you'd never go to a mechanic who'd never spent time under a car's hood, you would never want a master completely ignorant of political science.  We require everyone to pass a test before he's allowed to drive a car, and in some places, you don't even have to show an ID to drive the country.  You can't even have sex with most strangers in many states until you're 18, but the second you turn 18, you can screw over the nation.

Contrary to the brilliant and offensive suggestions above, all Americans could apply for this higher level of citizenship.  All of them could take a standardized test, written in plain language, about The Federalist, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and in a dream world maybe even the Second Treatise of Government.  It wouldn't even be written, but multiple choice, taken every four years, with a $40 fee and courses online and testing in every county.  You can retake it if you fail it, and the second time you take it, the fees are cut in half.

The argument against it will be that everyone, completely regardless of his stupidity or ignorance, should be allowed to literally direct the future of this country.  In this case, we'll do the unthinkable.  We'll take them at their word, threaten to open the vote to our three-year-olds, and say babies should be viable candidates for the presidency.

Jeremy Egerer is the author of the troublesome essays on Letters to Hannah, and he welcomes followers on Twitter and Facebook.