An alternative to Unk's voting theory... : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Robert Heinlein wrote a fun little book called "Starship Trooper." [Unfortunately, this was converted into a pretty lousy movie.] In Heinlein's book, the franchise of voting was restricted to veterans. The principle was fairly simple. With rights come responsibilities. If you want to wield the ultimate power of governance, you should be willing to bear the ultimate responsibility. In Heinlein's future, men and women serve equally in the military so this solves Unk's dilemma about women voting.

I'm not sure what I think about Heinlein's idea. Where rights are given without responsibility, I have seen a pattern of abuse. We obviously do not value the franchise of voting much in America, given low registration and participation. Would government work better if we had to earn our right to vote? What would happen if we made voting a privilege earned rather than a right given? Personally, I find this more interesting (and less dangerous) than questioning a woman's right to vote.

-- Ken Decker (, September 08, 2000


To earn the right to vote, interesting. I wonder how we (the country as a whole) determine the criteria. Do we take it to a vote? (sorry, couldn't resist) Is it based on patriotism (as in the military example) or education (leaving behind some high school dropouts) or some other areas?

What about the candidate's qualifications for running. Currently I think only a pulse is needed. You would think that if someone has to earn the right to vote, then those who we're voting for would also need to earn the right to run.

-- Maria (, September 08, 2000.


Interesting thought. I never read Heinlein's book so I don't know how he protrayed the outcome of this policy. I see some hidden or unintended consequences arising from it.

These days we have voting based on citizenship and citizenship is based on very low threshold conditions. You just need to be born as the offspring of a citizen or born inside the borders of the USA.

The big difficulty with creating an exclusive group and raising the bar to membership in that group is that it will always create a deprived class. While it is true that the current system of low citizenship requirements has also resulted in a "deprived" class, this deprivation doesn't extend so far as to take away the tools that the lower class needs in order to protect themselves from the "privileged" class.

Taking away the vote from a large segment of people leaved them defenseless against political predations from and eventually slavery to the privileged. There is no escape valve, no exit, no compensating mechanism to bring to bear.

If I were Heinlein, I think I would have emphasized the low estate of the non-participants and made them out as helots or serfs to the voting veterans.

That's one problem. The other is the particular criterion Heinlein chose: military service. This would inevitably create a militarized society that would require an expansionary outlet for its military energies. All the civil arts would be devalued and would lose vigor. This also happened in Sparta.

In fact, Heinlein's theoretical society has already pretty much been tried by the Spartans. Anyone interested in a less-romanticized and novelized version of this kind of society should look into Thuycidides, Xenophon, Plutarch and some modern books on Sparta. It was a fascinating, but rather brutal culture.

-- Brian McLaughlin (, September 08, 2000.

Dangerous, Kenneth. What is the criteria to "earn" the right to vote? Must you spout government propaganda and join the party? Those who are in power will decide what you need to do to vote and whatever the criteria will be, you can bet it will allow them to retain that power.

Voting is serious business. It's the cornerstone of Democracy. It should be open to all citizens above a certain age. I would be interested in seeing a statistical analysis of non-voters, the shameless cowards.

I too wish that logic, rather than emotion, would play more of a role in peoples voting habits. But you can't change human nature. All politicians take advantage of it and maniplate it though, some more than others, but that's nothing new.

-- Outta beer (, September 08, 2000.

Oh I'm not questioning a woman's right to vote, I'm just pointing out that it will eventually lead America down the path towards a shitheap socialist society.


-- Uncle Deedah (, September 08, 2000.

This guy doesn't give a rats butt!

Cheney Skipped 14 Out Of 16 Votes

DALLAS (AP) -- Republican vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney skipped voting in 14 of 16 elections since he registered to vote in Dallas County nearly five years ago, The Dallas Morning News reported Friday.

The missed votes included the March Texas primary in which Cheney could have cast his ballot for his future running mate, Gov. George W. Bush.

Cheney, campaigning Thursday in Maine, declined requests for an interview about his voting record, according to the News. A spokeswoman also refused to comment.

But county records examined by the paper show Cheney registered to vote in December 1995 after moving to an upscale section of Dallas from the Washington, D.C., area as the new CEO of oilfield services company Halliburton.

The elections in which he voted were the November 1996 presidential election and the November 1998 race for governor and other state and local offices.

To avoid a constitutional conflict with running mates from the same state, Cheney changed his voter registration to Wyoming, his home state, in July, days before being tapped by Bush. He has since voted in the GOP presidential primary there.

''Certainly, people would expect those seeking to lead them would take the time to vote,'' Douglas Hattaway, a spokesman for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore, told the News. ''But I guess it's hard when you're a busy oil company executive.''

Cheney's 2-for-16 voting history in Dallas compares with the five-for- six election participation rate of his Democratic rival Sen. Joe Lieberman over the same period in Connecticut.

Although Cheney's role at Halliburton sent him on frequent trips away from Dallas, Texas election law generously allows for absentee voting.

Earlier this month, while in Pennsylvania, Cheney had to defend his direct contributions to charities, which accounted for less than 1 percent of the $4 million he earned last year.

Questions about the donations arose after Cheney released personal tax records for himself and his wife Lynne showing that $442,152 went to charities from 1989 to 1999.

The 14 Dallas County elections Cheney skipped were the presidential and state primaries, primary runoffs and Highland Park city elections in 1996; two state constitutional amendment votes in 1997; a Highland Park school board vote, a Highland Park city election, a state primary and primary runoffs in 1998; a hotly contested Highland Park school bond election and a constitutional amendment vote in 1999; and this year's primary and primary runoffs.

Records in New Haven, Conn., show senator Lieberman voted in all but one of six elections there since December 1995, missing a November 1997 mayoral contest. Records were not available before 1995.

Cheney was registered in Casper, Wyo., from 1978 until he moved to Dallas, which includes his 21 years in Congress and his time as defense secretary from 1989 to 1993. Only records of federal elections, not state or local ballots, are available for Wyoming in those years.

The Wyoming records show Cheney voted in every federal primary and general election from 1978 to 1994.

-- Peg (too@much.spam), September 08, 2000.

Maria: The criteria could be taking a test to see what you know about the issues. A "b" or better would earn you the right to vote.

A test would be given at every election. This way, people who failed in their last attempt could study up and try again.

If you want something bad enough (ie: the right to vote) then you would be willing to work for it.

Mar. (tongue in cheek, of course) ;-)

-- Not now, not like this (, September 08, 2000.


This would not be a caste system. Every person would have the option of military service. No one would be barred because of race, gender or (gasp!) sexual orientation. To earn the franchise of voting, one would simply have to lump through a couple of years in the military. This "exclusive group" is not created by others, but self-selected.

It would be easy enough to ensure core freedoms (and prohibit obvious misuses) through a constitution. I imagine all individual would be guaranteed the usual "natural rights" freedoms. In addition, I would recommend the constitution prohibit legislation that confers a benefit to citizens over "noncitizens."

In our current model, a larger percentage of the least advantaged serve in the military with few tangible benefits. They serve to protect the economic interests of the more powerful. See the ratio of poor, minorities in Vietnam, particularly in casualty rates.

At present, the voting franchise does not serve the poor nearly as well as it serves the wealthy. After all, only the wealthy have the means to campaign for state or national offices. The political parties control dominate the political process and large special interest groups dominate the political parties. Personally, I find a certain social justice in the notion of Bill Gates not having a vote while a retired Black master sergeant does. (chuckle)

As for the military, we are not Sparta. It takes ten personnel to support one soldier in the field. Military service is no longer "come back with your shield or on it." Furthermore, the veterans I know are generally less inclined to vote for war having experienced it firsthand. Oh, and I find it difficult to imagine the civil arts suffering more from Heinlein's plan than from cable television or the public school system.

The real question here is should a right come with a responsibility?

-- Ken Decker (, September 08, 2000.

It would be easy enough to ensure core freedoms (and prohibit obvious misuses) through a constitution.

Considering the beating that ours has taken, while allowing all to vote, I will consider that notion somewhat "iffy". But overall your (Heinlein's) idea has merit, as does Mar's testing idea. Rights should indeed come with responsibilities.

When I run across a person who does not vote I tend to think to myself "Good, you probably shouldn't". Which brings to mind a local radio jock who does not vote but thinks that the First Amendment is vital to our nation. Jesus dipshit, I thought, who is protecting that right if you are too lazy to get off your ass and spend 15 minutes every two years voting? Dumbass.

-- Uncle Deedah (, September 08, 2000.

Why not? Israel has done this for years and they routinely kick the shit out of anyone who screws with them.

I support mandatory military service for all HS graduates before either a job or going to college. Of course, I would like to see all schools staffed by the USMC, some very fine Fundamentalist Baptists from the First Church of the Cane and the Order of the Sisters of S&M/B&D but that latter requires a modification of the First Amendment. For the first classes I would put all members of the Teachers' Union back in HS so they could learn some content matter instead of "how to teach".

I insist that alone will take care of many of the societal problems of long duration. If necessary we can even allow them to march to Rap Music and hip hop in exchange for forcing them out of Grunge and long hair (poor babies).

However, there is a major obstacle to universal military service (or 2 yrs. community service for objectors). The FREAKING PEACENIK GREENIE LIBERALS would NEVER in a million years allow it.

Of course, maybe that would force them all to leave to Canada as they did 32 years ago. (or London disguised as a Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas who never inhaled).

-- cpr (, September 08, 2000.


We just disagree. I think the Constitution has held up far better than the founders might have expected. Two hundred years and we haven't broken apart like the FSU. More people now benefit from the freedoms in the Bill of Rights, not less.

-- Ken Decker (, September 08, 2000.


OTOH, perhaps the beating (it's there) results from the fact that we do in fact allow everyone to vote?

-- Uncle Deedah (, September 08, 2000.

I don't like the military idea unless I get a lighter backpack. Most of the Alice packs I've seen are nearly as tall as I am. You could base citizenship on service in schools teaching K-12. Or working in a zoo, same diff.

-- helen (b@t.f), September 08, 2000.

My understanding was in Revolutionary times the right to vote was tied in with owning property. If you didnt own property you couldnt vote.

As for Heinleins book while its an interesting idea there are problems with it. One might argue that only people with children should be allowed to vote. The problem with universal service is that while for some people it would be a plus, for others it would be a minus. Not everyone would think it was a great experience. A society needs people who have totally different life experiences and different points of view. Group think: whether its universal service; universal college; only people who owning property, or are married, is bad for everyone.

-- The Engineer (, September 08, 2000.

Unfortunately Ken, many in the military could care less about the right to vote, do not exercise this right, and are utterly clueless about the political process. While many responsible citizens, who do vote and are politically aware have no desire to serve in the military. I fail to see how you try to tie the two together.

-- theron (, September 08, 2000.

You are all forgetting that we used to have such "voting tests" in this country. They were used to keep black people from voting. I personally do not wish to go back to such a system.

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (, September 08, 2000.

OK, I can see problems with Heinlein's idea, however, I understand the premise. No one can choose race or gender. Not everyone can afford property. Any person of legal age could choose to serve in the military... even the vertically challenged. Military service is not meant as a homogenizing experience. Most veterans I know came away with different impressions... some quite negative. The common thread of military service is the willingness to go into harm's way if so ordered. Should one rule a society without being willing to die for it? Essentially, the body politic rules the nation while most never serve it.

The comparison to today's military is invalid. If military was the route to the franchise of voting, it might attract different individuals. And I think Heinlein thought only those who successfully completed a tour of service would inherit the mantle of citizenship. Those who are dishonorably discharged would lose out.

The real issue Heinlein raised was that in a pure democracy any adult can vote. The right is given without any concurrent responsibility. Essentially, votes are purchased by blocks of special interests. If you want the labor vote, you promise labor benefits. The biggest voting bloc is senior citizens... a group that on a per capita basis receives seven times the benefits as compared to children and when fewer elderly are living in poverty. I don't think this is coincidental. Is democracy just a game where the majority can extract benefits from everyone else?

-- Ken Decker (, September 08, 2000.

I consider this a screwy idea for the following reason. I have a good friend, a very intelligent friend, who was born with a foot that wasn't quite straight. He limps with a cane. Couldn't get into the military. I guess he shouldn't vote.

Best wishes,,,,


-- Z1X4Y7 (, September 08, 2000.

This isn't a pure democracy. We only get to vote for representatives. After a representative makes it into office, he may vote in any way. The only control is the threat of voting him out of office the next time around.

Maybe instead of controlling who gets to vote, we should make serving in an elected office as uncomfortable as possible. Elected officials should be forced to live together in crowded dormitories, eat cafeteria food shoulder to shoulder, and get the same level of HMO care the rest of us have. The pay should be low, the hours long, and the paid staff ugly and surly.

-- helen (b@t.f), September 09, 2000.


I guess I can't penalize you for never reading the book. Heinlein makes a point of describing disabled individuals serving in the military including a man paralyzed from the neck down. As I already noted, the military (as conceived by Heinlein) would accept any enlistee (with the exception of individuals serving time in prison).

-- Ken Decker (, September 09, 2000.

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