We are moving in the opposite direction when it comes to voting; rather than making it easier, we should be making it harder—constitutionally, of course. If a voter doesn’t know basic constitutional civics, perhaps he should be barred from voting in any election.
We would achieve this goal via a compulsory passing of a civics exam in order to be eligible to vote.
I know you’re thinking: “Oh, that would be impossible to enact.” It’s only impossible, however, until it’s not, and I’ll show you why it passes constitutional muster.
Voting is not an absolute right universally and uniformly granted in our Constitution. Voting laws have gone through numerous iterations in our history. The framers’ original constitutional standard made clear that states were the arbiters of who is qualified to vote. In our republic’s infancy, most voters were white males who owned property. But some states had different standards: New Jersey allowed white, property-owning women to vote, and freed slaves could vote in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.
Elections have adult consequences and affect all personal and professional aspects of our lives. We all want a more qualified class of politician; but why not a more qualified class of voter?
What are the requirements to be able to vote? One must be 18 years of age, a citizen, and not a felon—although some states allow incarcerated felons to vote, and some automatically enfranchise felons who have completed their sentences. That’s it.
The 15th Amendment (ratified in 1870) made it illegal to prohibit voting on the basis of race; the 19th (ratified in 1920) made it illegal to prohibit voting on the basis of sex (women’s suffrage); the 23rd Amendment (ratified in 1961) enfranchised citizens living in Washington, D.C.; the 24th Amendment (ratified in 1964) prohibited Congress and the states from levying a poll tax to vote in federal elections; and the 26th Amendment (ratified in 1971) lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
A mandatory exam would be publicly-financed and administered (to avoid a poll tax conflict), and would be the same for all, to ensure that voters’ 14th Amendment right to Equal Protection isn’t abridged. The exam would also not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, or age.
It would not be a literacy test, which at one time was designed and used in the South as a de facto means to prevent blacks from voting before the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That Act suspended “a test or device” as a prerequisite to vote. I seek not to prevent anyone from registering to vote, and the intent of the Act was, as I read it, narrow in its scope, having addressed only a literacy test.
If any of these amendments are novel for you, my reply is: Checkmate.
The 10th Amendment and Elections Clause
To realize this idea nationally, it would require another amendment to the U.S. Constitution; this is not impossible, but passing it would be a Herculean task. This is why I am starting closer to home. As a Florida resident, I have begun building the army and infrastructure to place on our statewide ballot, by 2022, a proposed amendment to our state constitution. To pass, Florida amendments require 60 percent voter approval.
Naturalization candidates are legally required to know civics. The civics test for naturalization is not a multiple-choice test; a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer will ask up to 10 questions, from 100 study questions—in English only—from the list of 100 questions on the publicly-available practice test, and the applicant must answer correctly six of them in order to pass the exam.
Enfranchisement is the greatest benefit of citizenship; if those seeking to become citizens must show constitutional competency, why is it not incumbent upon natural born citizens to do the same? The U.S. Constitution is the contract that binds all of us, irrespective of what state we reside in, our income, class, race, ethnicity, religion, or gender.
What kinds of questions would feature on the exam for citizens? Would I consider settling for those on the USCIS exam? Yes, but I’d prefer not to settle for that. That exam, which includes study questions about Martin Luther King, Jr., Indian tribes and geography, is really an “Introduction to the United States 101.”
Here’s what I envision:
One hundred questions, multiple choice, with a “pass/fail” score. The scope of the test would be competency in understanding our Bill of Rights, various clauses, states’ rights, and the limitations placed on government. I don’t want questions that only a constitutional studies professor, historian, or attorney would pass, but I also don’t want questions focused mainly on slavery, either. Study questions would be public information.
Questions would be approved by the state legislature, and each state would determine whether those questions would require a governor’s approval.
If a citizen fails the exam, he must wait a year to retake it.
Those who pass it must take it again every five years.
For citizens naturalized within the last two years of the administering of the exam, they are exempt from taking it—but they will need to take it three years after naturalization.
Nothing in the U.S. Constitution, as I construe it, would render a civics-exam qualifier unconstitutional, and those who fail an exam would be unable to vote in any election—local, state, or national. Further, I see no constitutional hindrance to crafting a civics exam that differs from the USCIS test.
The Suicide of Simple-Majority Democracy
All of which brings me to my denouement: democracy.
What is democracy? Ask this question to 100 voters, and you’ll hear dozens of different answers. Most say, “the right to vote”; or, “having a say.” How most think of democracy is the way they’ve been conditioned by both Democrats and Republicans to think about it: half plus one—a simple majority. The founders closely associated this simple-majority concept with the terrorists of their day: the Crown.
It’s not democracy per se that petrifies me; but simple-majority democracy does.
I share John Adams’s cynicism about democracy—rooted in an accurate reading of history. As he wrote in 1814:
Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.
Simple-majority democracy was anathema to most of the founders. Though Jefferson/Madison and Adams/Hamilton differed on the balance between the federal government and individual states, they were all zealously apprehensive of simple-majority democracy; Jefferson’s lower case “r” republicanism, shaped by natural law, mandated the protection of the rights of the minority from the whims of the majority.
The more populous the United States becomes, the less the voting populace understands, or cares about, constitutional civics. The proof of this is manifest in examples such as the growing zeal to abolish the Electoral College.
Irrespective of the outcome of our presidential, as well as a few U.S. Senate races, over 70 million Americans supported a Democratic nominee who is outwardly and transparently hostile to constitutional rights. Even if President Trump ekes out a 270-electoral vote win, Arizona and Georgia are stark reminders that once-red states will always trend blue and purple when out-of-state transients become permanent residents. Texas’s shift to a purple state is the GOP’s worst-kept secret—and the Democrats will never cease their pursuit of seizing the Lone Star State.
The tumultuous populace of large cities are ever to be dreaded. Their indiscriminate violence prostrates for the time all public authority, and its consequences are sometimes extensive and terrible.
If the voters of cities that have been controlled only by Democratic mayors, and majority or supermajority Democratic city councils, for tens of thousands of consecutive days, had to exhibit a passing competence of constitutional civics, I guarantee that balances of powers in these cities would shift from Democrats (though there is no denying that some Republicans need to brush up on their civics as well).
In Oakland, voters just approved a state ballot measure that allows 16 year-olds to vote in the city’s school board elections; a proposition in San Francisco, which would have granted the right to vote to 16 year-olds for all municipal elections, barely failed.
In Maryland, the state constitution gives municipalities the authority to allow illegal aliens and lawful permanent residents the right to vote; ten municipalities allow either lawful permanent residents or illegal aliens to vote.
If a mandatory civics exam would increase Democrats’ odds of winning more elections, they and the Democratic Media Industrial Complex would have been championing it since the days of President Lyndon Johnson.
Simply put, it is too easy to vote.
And permit me to obviate the “civics should be taught in school” narrative; I don’t disagree, but should we parents really trust that our children’s civics class isn’t just more Ludovico technique/intellect engineering of Democratic propaganda?
The Democrats’ North Star is simple-majority democracy—outnumbering us. Simple-majority democracy is political ransoming.
Where does the tyranny of the willfully ignorant, the hysterical, and the violent wield the most influence? Elections. Quixotic or not, mandating an understanding of constitutional civics to vote is still the best electoral reform idea I’ve heard. Criticize it if you’d like, but only if accompanied by another solution. We nationalists must understand that, if not stymied and effectively thwarted, the tyranny of the Democratic majority will only malignantly strengthen and super-spread, until it has permanently taken control of our republic.