Republicans suggesting a sweeping record of voting legislation at the states, and resisting a national bill to loosen themhave a stage. It’s just not the one they believe. Measured from the structure of these suggestions and the rhetoric which accompanies them, the goal is apparently to keep elections aggressive. That is not an inherent good. But maintaining the indispensably public character of voting is.
To find out why aggressive elections are not a good in themselves, it is crucial to conquer a breed of narcissism endemic for politics. Rather than the cynical assert that most politicians are narcissists–that is both untrue and economical –that the problem is specialist narcissism: the inability to view events via a lens other than that of the chosen line of work. In its political variant, politicians view the world just through the eyes of politicians rather than from the view of voters.
From the view of voters, the goal of elections would be to enroll the deliberate will of the public. From the view of candidates, the goal of elections is still winning, and that divides them into viewing competitiveness because the basis of the game. But politics is beanbag nor fair, nor should it not happen either.
Competitive elections are inherent merchandise only to politicians who view their job as winning journalists and them to whom blowout losses and wins are boring. But if the will of the people is settled in a given place or for a specified interval, the goal of elections is to register that truth, to not make life fair to candidates. You will find solid red and blue states where Republican and Democratic candidates, respectively, have little likelihood of winning. Viewed from the voter’s point of view, there’s absolutely no underlying reason elections at such areas should be forced to be a coin flip.
As for Democrats, this brute force for equity takes the form of campaign-finance regulations seeing elections just from the view of office-seekers, try to level the playing field between candidates while giving them more control on political language. H.R. 1, the”For the People Act,” would consequently clamp down “dark cash .” Yet”dark money” refers to a means of persuading voters. On the voter, what matters is if the material is persuasive. Only the politician cares if the result of persuasion advantages or disadvantages a specified candidate.
Republicans are demonstrating they are vulnerable to specialist narcissism too. Some of those voting reforms they’ve proposed in state legislatures necessarily make sense. However, in the absence of hard proof of fraud, many seem based on a two-step maneuver: assert fraud, then utilize belief in fraud because proof of the necessity of voting limitations. It’s tough to shake the suspicion which these reforms, for example Democrats’ obsession with campaign finance, arise in a narcissistic belief that elections would be uncompetitive with them.
Voting should need effort–perhaps not unreasonable or prohibitive effort, and not attempt that’s deliberately intensified for some groups and not to others, but attempt which reflects the civic importance of the act.Like campaign finance reform for Democrats, restricting voting to create Republicans much more electable is a parasite which risks masking underlying pathologies. Both are the treatments of parties so convinced of their rectitude that just chicanery can explain a reduction. Rather than railing against mysterious fiscal forces which were alleged to restrain Congress for half those eight years President Obama occupied the White House, Democrats would have done better to moderate their policies and inquire how they might be made more attractive.
Likewise conservatives need to face reality: As of 2024, there’ll be eligible voters in whose lifetimes that the Republican hasn’t won a majority of the popular vote for president. Yes, that’s partially an artifact of an Electoral College system which causes Democrats to conduct up garbage-time things in California. Maybe –like the physician who says his medication merely made the patient sicker since the dose was too low–that the problem is that the phantasm of Conservatism Inc. suffocating the authentic voice of populism.
But should the disposition of voting, and then here conservatives are on to something significant. Even the Republican argument for debt reform has gone like that: The pandemic essential emergency expansions of absentee and mail voting, but to prevent fraud, they should be temporary. A better frame is that voting is an intrinsically public act. The individual undertaking it should reflect on its consequences to the public good, not only for himself.
Thus, voting should be available. People who need absentee or mail ballots should get them. But those who can go to a polling place should be required to participate in the civic symbol of casting a ballot at a public atmosphere. If advantage is the sole standard for voting, we should not be surprised if folks vote . If the amount of all ballots cast is that the step of a successful election–a premise reflected from the stern do-gooder reminders which, regardless of for whom or why, everyone should vote–we should not be surprised if what should be serious business is undertaken lightly instead.
Neither needs to be the situation. Voting should demand effort–perhaps not unreasonable or prohibitive effort, and not attempt that’s deliberately intensified for some groups and not to others, but attempt which reflects the civic importance of the act. A person who has to go from her or his way to vote will be likelier to pause for reflection. A voter who stands in accord with her or his fellow citizens at a polling place is likelier to keep their needs–and, more significant, the common good–in your mind.
It’s true that ballots are, and should be, secret. But that’s so Republicans can make a fair decision, free of intimidation, regarding the public good, not so they can escape into themselves. In the ordinary case, key ballots should be cast in general settings. Not everyone can do so. You will find service members who need to vote by a distance and individuals with medical conditions for whom voting by mail is more preferable. They should be accommodated. It doesn’t detract from that requirement or stigmatize these distinctive situations to state the normal requirement for voting should be public.
Voting reform thus presents Republicans having an opening to talk about the public good. When a majority of House Democrats seek to lower the voting age to 16–a age of infamous impulsivity and susceptibility to pressure, to mention nothing of those propagandizing that occurs in public education–they are not merely trying to rack Republicans up for themselves. They’re trivializing the fundamental civic act by divorcing it from both maturity and independence. When they try to make it as easy as possible to vote, irrespective of private demand for accommodation, they are privatizing a fundamentally general activity.
For conservatives to create this argument–voting is a public act which should call for a reasonable level of effort and promotion –they must entertain lodging a few have been hesitant to create. There should be sufficient polling places, together with sufficient staffing, to avoid gratuitously lengthy waits, particularly when they’re unevenly distributed. There’s also a better case than conservatives have acknowledged for making Election Day a federal holiday or moving elections to a holiday that already exists. That would enhance the case for voting requiring public effort.
Recently, Republican state Rep. John Kavanagh of Arizona was derided for saying the silent part out loud when he announced that”everybody shouldn’t be voting.” The grade, not simply volume, of voting matters, he added. That was the significant part out loud. It becomes menacing if elected officials like Kavanagh try to increase”quality” Republicans and impede others on the basis of their partisan or private judgment. But voting regulations should encourage both private reflection and public action. That–that the indispensably public nature of the fundamental civic act–and not specialist narcissism is the prism through which conservatives must view voting reform.