Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Another look at the 2000 Florida Recount
Published on October 8, 2003 By Draginol In Politics
At the risk of being an anti-populist (and worse), I'll be up front: I don't agree with universal suffrage.

There, I've said it. Go ahead, call me names. I'm a bad bad man.

But there's a reason for my view on this.  I don't believe that those who don't contribute to the treasury should be allowed to dictate what is done with that treasury to those who do.

Calor writes in "Why the left hates Bush" that Gore should have been President. If only a few voters in Florida had managed to figure out the ballot.

I have two stock answers to that:

(1) So what? Why should the votes of people who take serious time to consider who to vote for, pay a great deal in taxes, create jobs, contribute in many other ways be countered by some person who can't even be bothered to read the instructions on a ballot? And how many Democratic votes were picked up in the last election due to homeless people being bussed to the polling places? Or bribed with cigarettes.  In California they're going to allow anyone with a driver's license vote even if they're not a citizen. Terrific.  I don't really care that much what the "intent" of Floridians were. I only care about the legal result.  It's like in baseball. I don't care if the Yankees are the "better" team on paper. It's who wins the game that matters.

(2) They called Florida before the pan handle of the state had finished voting. Given how close it was, one has to wonder how many Bush votes were lost because of the early call (the pan handle of Florida is overwhelmingly Republican). Strangely, this didn't receive a lot of coverage. Of course he media isn't biased, right?

It is certainly easier and more tempting to argue for universal suffrage. After all, it sounds so noble. So ethical.  It's an easy trap to fall into.  But is it noble and ethical?

We live in a country where 40% of the adult population pays no federal taxes whatsoever. But all 40% of them can vote on what's done with the treasury. Think about that.  Many people today live in a home owner's association. We pay dues and as a group we vote on what to do with that money. But imagine living in a neighborhood of 100 homes where 40 of them don't pay a cent into the association but still got to vote:

"We want a neighborhood pool with all the trimmings!" says one. Instantly they have 40% of the votes in favor of that. A neighborhood pool sounds great. Good for the kids, fun in the summer, etc.

"But pools cost a lot of money to build and maintain." says one of the people who pays dues.

"Tough luck rich boy!"

And so they vote and it passes by a margin of 51 to 49 with all 40 of the non-payers voting in favor of the pool. Association dues go up 25% to pay for the pool but that means nothing to those who aren't paying.

The federal government, to a certain extent, operates on the same principle.  Hey, let's have prescription drugs. Sounds great. But 10% of the population is going to be stuck paying for 90% of the cost even though they don't benefit from it any more than the guy who pays zilch. In fact, they probably won't benefit at all because they usually have their own health care plan.

So when Calor and those who agree with him complain about how Gore lost despite having the "plurality" of votes, the right's answer is, so what? Personally, my interest is in what the "intent" of the people who live in a household that pays federal taxes think. And from working on The Political Machine and looking at the exit polling data, it's pretty clear how they voted -- Bush by a landslide. Gore got the vast majority of the lower 40% in income and Bush got a significant majority of the other 60% of the voter population.

So the left can whine all it wants about Bush and his so-called "unelected" back end. Because to many of us in the middle or on the right, particularly tax payers, Democrats increasingly are winning by pandering to the people who don't pay the bills. Or worse, pandering to people who aren't even citizens!

I'm not a big fan of Bush myself, I may not even vote for him in 2004. But he was elected in 2000 fair and square.

Comments (Page 1)
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on Oct 08, 2003
The thing about the 2000 election that highlighted the corrupt nature of the recount demand was that Sore / Loserman wanted to recount the polls only in the areas they thought they could win. If the voting process was so corrupt in Florida then why didn’t they demand to recount the whole state. The Democrats just lost California by 60% that means that 20 % of Democrat constituents voted Republican. This is the worst thing to happen to the Democrats since Democrat constituents stampeded to vote for Reagan when America was in shambles as a result of 'Jimmah' Carter. There was no right wing conspiracy here, the voters were pissed and dumped Greyout Davis (D)
on Oct 08, 2003
so non-treasury payers would not have the vote because of what they MIGHT vote for?

if they don't have the vote then the OPPOSITE happens:

"all in favor of the the Make The Non-Taxpayer Wear Funny Clothes and Entertain Us Act?"
"this screws over the poor and violates their rights."
"tough luck poor lover boy."

you're a bad bad man!
on Oct 08, 2003
I guess that explains why Davis and company want to give illegal aliens driver's licenses.

Sometimes I do think that it might be of the US' interest to make it so that only those with property can vote, but perhaps it would be better just to have an intelligence test that people must pass before they can vote. I personally don't think anybody who can't read simple instructions should be able to vote, and hopefully, such a test would keep the terribly incompetent from voting. Besides, it'd also let me vote even though I still live with my parents and don't have a job.
on Oct 08, 2003
Russell, two things:

First, the bill of rights still protects people. So they wouldn't have to wear funny hats.

Secondly, if I were emperor, I would create a system where every adult has to pay some minimum amount in taxes that would be based on the total federal outlays divided on a per capita basis.

Example: If there are 200 million adults and the Federal budget is 2 trillion, then each person would have to pay some % of that. It would be set at a relatively low percentage (so that everyone had to pay say at least $500 per year or something in today's conditions). Then on top of that you would have the traditional tax system we have today.

So then there would be an incentive to cut spending and people would feel, at least some, the pain of having to support these entitlement programs.

If you couldn't afford the $500 or so minimum tax, that would be okay. You wouldn't go to jail or anything, you just would'nt get to vote.
on Oct 08, 2003
posted by draginol:
"First, the bill of rights still protects people. So they wouldn't have to wear funny hats. "

the bill of rights is paper. without the right to vote, the 40% is helpless to stop the 60% from making all sorts of crazy laws. a minority with no representation and dependent on the goodwill of a larger population invites abuse. it's easy to say, "oh, they won't get treated so badly". but {alert! russellmz getting up on soapbox} the thought that one group could even have the power to do so to another in a democracy disturbs me and goes against everything i believe about america.{/alert: off the soapbox}

now on to my plan for benevolent dictatorship: i believe my "all telemarketers and spammers will be shot, survivors will be shot again" policy will allow me to be voted president-for-life in a landslide victory over your tax plan.
on Oct 09, 2003
Not necessarily. That's where the Supreme Court comes in. They protect the minority from the majority. There haven't been any laws made against illegal immigrants, and not only can they not vote, and not only are they a minority, but there are plenty of people who dislike them. However, even they still have some basic human rights.
on Oct 09, 2003
The supreme court supports the constitution. The constitution can be changes by the will of the people. Take voting rights off the poor and the constitution can be changed any way you want. The supreme court will then have to protect the new constitution!

I believe that the right to vote IS a fundamental right. This does not necessarily mean that you should have the right to determine what something you don't contribute to is spent. I think Draginol has a valid argument and perhaps some compromise system is possible. What about income from resource exploitation, or company tax?

I don't actually agree with Draginol's suggestion. If such a large section of society are not contributing to taxes then something is wrong. Find out why they are not contributing. Do they earn nothing or just below the tax level? If below the tax level then maybe that should be changed (I'm a big fan of everyone paying tax on every single dollar earned), if they earn nothing then why? Unable to get jobs or not interested in working? Again if that's the problem then something has to be done about it.

As a final note, what would you do with non earners such as house wives? Take the vote off them as well? (be careful with any answer here that implies they owe their vote to the husband!!!!!)


on Oct 10, 2003
With respect, Draginol launches an ambitious assertation, flawed not so much in its development, as in its axioms.

The argument that suffrage ought to be restritcted to taxpayers rests upon an implicit assumption that government is the ultimate expression of economic activity. This is possibly valid under various totalitarian regiemes (Communisim beign the obvious candidate). I suspect that on reflection, even Draginol would agree that such is not the case under any western democracy, particularly not the lassez faire capitalism of the US.

I would suggest, rather, that government here is the ultimate expression of legislative activity (hints may be found in little things like the consitution, or in the nomenclature of the three pillars: judiciary, legislature, executive).

With that in mind, the proposition that "only those choosing to be subject to US law ought to be able to vote in US elections" would possibly incite a more interesting discussion. Of course, you would first have to hypothesis a mechanism for opting out of being subject to the law.

P.S. I don't _believe_ in universal suffrage either, but I do _think_ it's the least of those evils so far suggested. Thanks for the muse Draginol.
on Oct 10, 2003
While I launch a comment flawed not so much by its content as its typos. Apologies all.
on Oct 11, 2003
"... without the right to vote, the 40% is helpless to stop the 60% from making all sorts of crazy laws ..."

Even with the right to vote, which they have, the 40% would be 'helpless' to stop the 60% from passing laws, crazy or not. That is the way Democracy works ... majority rules. It sounds as if you suggest the 40% should be able to stop a law from being voted in, if they don't want it, irregardless of the yays being the majority.
on Oct 12, 2003
The amazing thing about the lingering bad feelings on the election is how it could have been avoided. The Supreme Court came into the picture (and the Florida Supreme Court, for that matter) for bad reasons. The best course of action would have been for all courts to have declared it a legilative (i.e., something that the people can express a vote on in the future) issue. So what happens then? The system works as the Constitution intended. Florida possibly sends two sets of electors (or a disputed set of electors) to the electoral college. When Congress records the vote, guess what? They have the power to declare the Florida electors invalid - in which case, the election goes to the house (i.e., to a bunch of people subject to elections every 2 years). In 200, they would have elected Bush (Republican majority). However - if the population were truly angered by that, they have an easy recourse - the 2002 House election.

Instead, it went through the courts. And in that case, the people have zero recourse (so when anyone on the left tells you they wanted a democratic result, ask them why they took it to an undemocratic institution - the courts - in the first place). Had the election stayed out of the courts, the whole thing would have been decided by people who have to stand for re-election on a regular basis - which is what the founder intended.....
on Oct 12, 2003
By: pictoratus
Even with the right to vote, which they have, the 40% would be 'helpless' to stop the 60% from passing laws, crazy or not. That is the way Democracy works ... majority rules. It sounds as if you suggest the 40% should be able to stop a law from being voted in, if they don't want it, irregardless of the yays being the majority.

the way democracy in the us works is that an active, vocal minority can still be a pain in the butt for the majority. for example: in many states gun control laws polls as somewhat popular to the majority. BUT, attempts to pass gun control laws cause the minority nra members and gunowners to do massive bring out the vote drives to ensure those laws do not pass because they are so passionate about their right to get guns. meanwhile the not so passisonate majority does not come out to vote the laws in. regardless of whether you believe in more gun control or less, the more extremist you are, the more likely you are to vote.

ps: also: 2/3 majority > 66%. so a pissed off 40% can still sometimes stop crazy laws in america (pre-right to vote stripping).

denying the 40% the right to vote means you only need 41% of the total population (2/3 majority of the voting 60%) to make "crazy" changes to the constitution. who's gonna get screwed: voters or non-voters?

{warning: getting on the soapbox}the rights of man are intrinsic. god/nature/whatever did not give each person an opinion and a brain just so that one group can be put at the mercy of another group of people. to say this one group of citizens MIGHT do something "wrong" and thus should not have the vote is against everything i believe is right.{off soapbox}
on Oct 12, 2003
russellmz, you've made my point.
Why do the gun control laws you speak of, or any other for that matter, not pass? Because there were more votes against than for. That is the concept of 'majority rules'.

If one doesn't vote on a particular issue, then one doesn't elect to have a say in the result. I personally think that is a valid choice, not to vote I mean. I prefer to vote. Without casting a vote, what accurate way is there to know what non-voters want? Polls? Casting a ballot is a poll. How many people don't participate in the polls we read of or hear of? Isn't it likely that the same 'vocal minority' are just as likely to participate in polls as to vote?
My point is, without country wide 100% participation in an election, there is no way to know the will of all the people. To say this result or that result is the will of the people when it is but a sampling of opinion is speculative. I have no doubt that if everyone voted, it's likely that a lot of results would turn out differently.

But it doesn't change that the 60% wins over the 40% of votes cast everytime.
on Oct 13, 2003
Why do the gun control laws you speak of, or any other for that matter, not pass? Because there were more votes against than for. That is the concept of 'majority rules'.
But it doesn't change that the 60% wins over the 40% of votes cast everytime.

we're basically talking past each other. you are defining majority as "the ones who actually get out and vote and win the election", while i am talking about the majority in the general population as a whole who have the right to vote. (do you think tax loopholes are built into the tax code because the majority of the population support it? or because the majority who would not support it don't care enough to speak or vote about it, while a minority of those who can take advantage of the loopholes are vocal and dedicated?)

my example with gun control is to show that a minority with a vote can defeat a majority (of the population with the right to vote as a whole). you seem to think statistical sampling polls are not accurate at all in assessing what a population thinks. as someone who has taken several stats courses, i pretty much believe in the math and science behind them. when done correctly, polls are very accurate, and you can even measure the margin of error. if you do not believe polls where consistently (in statistical sampling polls) a majority of people generally speak in favor of stronger gun control laws but not very strongly, then there's not much i can do to prove other than inviting you to go with me as we ask every voter in america.
on Oct 14, 2003
russellmz, yes we are saying essentially the same thing. In a vote, the majority wins. Does this always reflect what the population, as a whole, would want? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

And while I agree polls can be accurate, the 'when done right', is the rub. Not to say the majority of poll takers are incompetent, just that polls are often manipulated by the pollsters in the questions they ask and how the questions are asked. One recent poll that was way off base was the recent poll before the California recall election that showed a very different result than the actual vote in terms of who was expected to win and by how much. While I didn't see the actual questions asked, I have to wonder at the discrepancy. And apparently that vote had a very high turnout.

There was an article I read very recently that focused on why focus groups had results that didn't pan out in reality. Basically the author stated that people were more likely to respond in a focus group (basically a poll) in a manner with how they would 'like' to be, while when it came down to putting their views in practice (voting if you will), they often elected a different path. Perhaps a lot of the people who, when polled, either didn't want Gray Davis recalled or wanted Bustamante to get the seat, didn't feel strongly enough to actually vote or else voted differently than their response in the poll.

As many laws are passed without the voters actually getting to vote on them (how the tax loopholes get in), I really don't understand why people don't vote every chance they get.

Suppose they ran elections like polls, where only a 'sampling' of people got to vote and that determined the outcome. Not that it would happen, but it would be interesting.
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