A recent letter-to-the-editor proposed limiting the right to vote. (“Successful people should pick who serves in public office” December 15, 2015). The writer suggested the U.S. should return to the original intent of our founding fathers. He said the right to vote belongs only to successful people.
The writer believes we diluted the votes of successful people by allowing unsuccessful people to cast ballots.
I like his idea. Maybe this will, as Donald Trumps says, “make America great again.”
As they say, “The devil is in the details.” Let’s begin by defining “successful.” As the letter writer boted, the founding fathers were “citizens who held property, the most successful of the population.” Sounds like he wants to return to the Roman Empire where landowners’ votes were weighted. To be successful enough to vote in early America, you simply had to be born white and anatomically correct.
Success simply meant being white and male. What should “being successful” look like in the 21st century? How should we define the “success” that would render a person eligible to vote?
Let me suggest the definition should exclude anyone who inherited his or her wealth. What’s so successful about being born into the wealth someone else earned?
Second, what if you have accumulated your wealth through the hard work of hard workers? You shouldn’t be deemed successful if your bank account grew because you paid less than livable wages to your employees while refusing to provide them with either health insurance or a pension plan. That’s exploitation, not success. There’s a difference.
Can you already feel the middle class rebounding?
Who then should be deemed successful enough that they should be able to vote? Start by giving the right to all people of color. The deck was stacked against them from the beginning. The founding fathers had one purpose. Protect white privilege. Whether it’s banking and investment, education, housing, employment, or the legal system, it was all designed to protect white privilege.
Surviving that means persons of color are successful by any measure. We really must make up for all those years they weren’t allowed to vote.
Next to be considered successful are poor and low-income workers. There’s no harder job in America than being poor. Even though many are working multiple
low-wage jobs with no benefits while raising families, they are fodder for mean-spirited politicians. They have no sick leave, seldom get a vacation, and live constantly on the financial ledge. They serve meals to those with money, clean their hotel rooms, care for their children, and work for little so that those for whom they work can have more.
Single parents are among those to consider successful under this reformed voting regimen. In Wyoming, more than half of all single-mother homes live below the poverty level. Raising children by yourself defines you as successful.
Rehabilitated felons should be on the “successful enough to vote list.” If you’ve dug yourself out of the deep pit our criminal justice system tossed you into, that is success. Certainly recovering addicts must be included. How much more successful can one be than those who found recovery in a culture that can’t understand addiction and seeks to criminalize, penalize, and marginalize those with the disease.
Who did I overlook? Oh yeah. Let’s include anyone who ever adopted either an abused or neglected child or animal.
Do you see these voters electing politicians who give more to the wealthy while squeezing life out of the middle class? Can you envision them choosing candidates who are blind to the struggles of low-income working families? Do you see them rushing to elect legislators who want to cut food stamps and social security and privatize Medicaid and Medicare? Think they’ll vote for candidates who send their children to private colleges while yours incur mountains of debt attending a community college?
Neither do I. I’m really getting excited about the possibilities of allowing only “successful” people to exercise the right to vote. This will make America great again.