The Instigator
MyDinosaurHands
Pro (for)
Winning
11 Points
The Contender
Texas14
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The US Ought to Substantially Restrict Voting Rights

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
MyDinosaurHands
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/2/2015 Category: Society
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 652 times Debate No: 77236
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (2)

 

MyDinosaurHands

Pro

Groundwork:

By substantially restrict voting rights, I mean the following:

Via Constitutional Amendment, the US should restrict the ability to vote so that only people who are significantly knowledgeable in the realm of politics be allowed to vote.

This determination would be made by the creation of a nonpartisan political knowledge test -- created by an equally nonpartisan commission, the members of which would be approved by Congress. Ideally this test would restrict voting rights to no more than 15% of the US population.

Following the passage of this Constitutional Amendment, the only time those without the right to vote would be able to vote would be in the case of a Referendum on whether or not to repeal said Constitutional Amendment.

It is in this scenario, and only this scenario, that I would advocate restricting voting rights to what I will henceforth be referring to as the politically literate. My opponent should accordingly target this scenario only.

First round will be for acceptance only. If you have any questions, ask them before you accept. If you accept before clearing something up, and that something creates an issue in the debate, the blame for that issue will fall on you when people start voting.
Texas14

Con

I accept. I await my opponent's opening arguments.
Debate Round No. 1
MyDinosaurHands

Pro

"Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country."
---FDR

Only 2 out of 5 voters can name the 3 branches of Federal Government[1].

49% of Americans think the President has the ability to suspend the Constitution[1].

A majority of Americans believed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, even after the 9/11 Commission found that there were not[1].

Only 1/3 of Americans understood that the majority of the world opposed our invasion of Iraq. Another 1/3 thought the majority of the world was neutral, and another thought we were cheered on[1].

6 months after the invasion of Iraq, 70% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein participated in 9/11[9].

According to a 2011 poll, more people knew Randy Jackson was a judge on American Idol than knew John Roberts was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court[9].

Since 2007, Americans have scored on average under 50% on bi-yearly political knowledge tests administered by Pew[2].

When asked, Americans can correctly identify the Party of their representative only 53% of the time, despite the fact that 97% of Americans live in districts considered to be consistently favorable to one Party[3].

Americans think we spend 25 times more than we actually do on foreign aid, and more than 2/3 underestimate the portion of the Federal Budget spent on Social Security and Medicare[4].

I could spend a lot of time showing how uneducated the electorate is, but unless my opponent challenges this fact, I'm going to leave it at this.

So, these are, as FDR put it, "the ultimate rulers of our democracy".

We are so screwed.

If Americans can only do marginally better than a coin toss in identifying the most basic information about their representative, how can we expect that representatives will be chosen based upon comparison of their views, voting records, and future plans, against a voter's educated, thoughtful stance on policy?

How can we solve the looming crises like the Medicare funding collapse[5] if we don't even know how much we spend on it? If we don't care enough to do a little research, how can we expect to get political candidates who are serious about addressing such a tough issue?

How can we justly decide whether or not to provide aid to nations where the adults die of AIDS and the children of starvation, when we falsely think we're already spending massive amounts on foreign aid?

This is a central failure of our democracy. There are major issues that need to be dealt with, but because the electorate does not possess the will to push our representatives in the right direction, nothing happens, and it's business as usual politics. One needs to look no further than Congressional elections to see this in action. Both Congress' productivity and approval rates are absolutely abysmal[6][7], yet they see re-election rates well over 80%[8]. The electorate rewards them for doing nothing, simply because they lack the passion necessary to not only care enough to be informed, but also to choose representatives who share their passion and wish to make genuine attempts to solve serious issues.

America today faces numerous challenges with no easy answers, and no shortage of politicians, who, unprodded, are unwilling to address them. We face Climate Change, the Debt Crisis, our future in overseas military actions, our stance on gun ownership, mental health, drug policies, an ailing education system, sexual education, and many, many more things which require knowledge, and the will to act.

This is why we need to restrict voting rights to the politically literate. Do we want to avoid the collapse of Medicare? If so, we'd better get some politicians in office who are willing to address the issue, instead of use it as a campaigning platform.

Do we want to end up like Greece? If not, we'd better pick some representatives who are ready and willing to solve the
issue, not pass it on.

The only way to do that is to get voters who are concerned enough about that issue to have done enough research to be able to elect representatives on the basis of the quality of their ideas in regards to solving the problem. In other words, quality voting is required.

My opening round is short, but that's because this is plain, common sense. If we want good government, we need good voting. That will require voters who have invested time in learning about the issues, in order to choose representatives who will invest time in solving the issues.

Sources:
[1] http://www.usnews.com...
[2] http://www.americanthinker.com...
[3] http://www.washingtonpost.com...
[4] http://volokh.com...
[5] http://www.washingtonexaminer.com...
[6] http://www.gallup.com...
[7] http://www.washingtonpost.com...
[8] http://www.opensecrets.org...
[9] http://readersupportednews.org...
Texas14

Con

I want to thank my opponent for starting this debate.

My opponent opened up with a quote, and I coincidentally have decided to do the same. My opponent quoted FDR, but I will quote a much lesser known politician. His name was Marc Morial and he served as the 59th mayor of New Orleans.

"We must continue to have voting rights in the state, not to politicize this, but they must have a voice in the rebuilding effort in the community from which they have been displaced."

http://www.brainyquote.com...

What does this mean other than that we should expand voting rights? I think it means that the people most effected by the messes caused by the government must be heard, instead of a select few who passed a test. Every vote counts. We cannot allow ourselves to be silenced.

Now, before I start arguing my side for legal and moral purposes, I should let my opponent know that the effort to suppress the vote is already abundant in this country. Five states have strict voter ID laws and many more have laws where ID is requested. Voter ID laws are a violation of civil liberties and should not be put in place anywhere. How can we call ourselves the land of the free if we require voter ID laws?

http://www.motherjones.com...
http://www.usnews.com...
https://www.aclu.org...

Another huge problem that currently exists in our voting system is felony disenfranchisement. That's right. If you are a convicted felon in this country, you lose your voting rights (usually for life). Of course, this has racist outcomes as well. Felony disenfranchisement was originally put in place in the south in order to silence the voices of black voters. It was and still is much easier to convict poor people (usually poor and black people) and so once they got out of prison, they couldn't vote, and they still can't. Poll taxes were also used for this same racist intention. We should constitutionally restore voting rights to all.

http://www.nytimes.com...

Now I shall move on to my legal argument. Now, there is no constitutional amendment guaranteeing voting rights to all, but there are several steps that we have to add on to. Firstly, the fifteenth amendment, which says that voting rights cannot be based on race. The twenty fourth amendment outlaws poll taxes. Finally, the twenty sixth amendment lowers the voting age to eighteen. Now sure, these do not guarantee voting rights to all, but my opponent must agree that these all take steps in the direction of equal voting rights for all. So if we were to add a constitutional amendment to have a test to see if you could vote, that would actually be a step backwards in everything we have fought so hard for to this point.

Now for a moral argument. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, " Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." Notice he didn't say that our lives begin to end the day that educated people become silent. He said we, as in all people. I know this because M.L.K. gave his life for civil rights and voting rights. He knew that if a group of people were silenced, then the country's decline would follow. Are we going to so carelessly give up the right to vote to all, or are we going to be like Dr. King and fight to preserve those rights?

I await my opponent's rebuttals.
Debate Round No. 2
MyDinosaurHands

Pro

"...people most effected by the messes caused by the government must be heard, instead of a select few who passed a test. Every vote counts. We cannot allow ourselves to be silenced."
The problem with the premise here -- that government's problems must be solved by the masses -- fundamentally misunderstands the nature of our government. Our government is an extension of the people. Any messes caused by government are messes incurred and tolerated by an electorate that keeps putting the same people in power. We have had government of the masses for a while now, and we can see it is not as effective of a system as it could be.

"Now, before I start arguing my side for legal and moral purposes, I should let my opponent know that the effort to suppress the vote is already abundant in this country."
My opponent went on to list ways in which the vote is being suppressed. The examples are immaterial. In my opinion, some of his railing against voter ID laws and felony disenfranchisement is off-base in this particular debate. The kind of voting restrictions my opponent talks about is restriction for purely political reasons. All the restrictions target minorities, a group of people that generally aid the Democratic Party. Therefore, Republicans oppose liberalizing voting laws, and Democrats support doing so.

But what I'm talking about is voting restriction for reasons other than petty party politics. I'm suggesting voting restriction to those who are most qualified to vote. The difference here can be summed up in the following metaphor:

On one hand, a business owner refuses to hire someone because of their race ( i.e. poll taxes).
On the other, a business owner refuses to hire someone because they're not qualified for the job (i.e. my idea).

"Firstly, the fifteenth amendment, which says that voting rights cannot be based on race. The twenty fourth amendment outlaws poll taxes. Finally, the twenty sixth amendment lowers the voting age to eighteen. Now sure, these do not guarantee voting rights to all, but my opponent must agree that these all take steps in the direction of equal voting rights for all. So if we were to add a constitutional amendment to have a test to see if you could vote, that would actually be a step backwards in everything we have fought so hard for to this point."
I agree that all of the amendments listed go along with the theme of expanding and protecting voting rights, but this theme does not legally or constitutionally bar us from implementing my plan. Sure, it would be a step in the opposite direction we've been heading, but it wouldn't violate anything in the Constitution. And to not implement the plan simply due to the fact that it would be a reversal of historical trends is silly; doing so would completely ignore the merits of my idea and the drawbacks to the current way of doing things.

"He knew that if a group of people were silenced, then the country's decline would follow. Are we going to so carelessly give up the right to vote to all, or are we going to be like Dr. King and fight to preserve those rights?"
This sounds nice, but it lacks backing. Why would our country's decline soon follow if the majority of voters ceded their right to do so? I've outlined why we would be better off with more qualified voters, and I don't see how unqualified voters not voting is a problem, especially if the majority of them approved of such circumstances during the process in which this idea would be engraved into the Constitution.
Texas14

Con

Texas14 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Texas14

Con

I apologize. I am currently lacking the time for a serious debate like this. Concede.
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by bsh1 1 year ago
bsh1
Ought implies morality, should doesn't.

You wrote: "the only time those withOUT the right to vote would be able to vote would be in the case of a Referendum on whether or not to repeal said Constitutional Amendment."

So, it's still not clear in what scenario you would restrict voting rights, because you only mention a case where voting rights are unrestricted.

But, since someone else accepted, it's all academic, now.
Posted by MyDinosaurHands 1 year ago
MyDinosaurHands
The scenario wherein voting rights are restricted in the manner described, via constitutional amendment. Also, why should the wording be changed? Aren't should and ought synonymous?
Posted by bsh1 1 year ago
bsh1
And what "scenario" are you referring to?
Posted by bsh1 1 year ago
bsh1
If you change the wording to "should" instead of "ought," I would take this.
Posted by dsjpk5 1 year ago
dsjpk5
Good idea
Posted by Wylted 1 year ago
Wylted
Restrict this, and challenge BSH1. Hopefully he'll accept. He had a good debate going about something similar in the past that got forfeited, and if you both do great it will be hall of fame worthy.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Midnight1131 1 year ago
Midnight1131
MyDinosaurHandsTexas14Tied
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: FF and concession by Con
Vote Placed by 64bithuman 1 year ago
64bithuman
MyDinosaurHandsTexas14Tied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Con concedes.