Patterico's Pontifications

4/8/2021

Kevin D. Williamson on Fewer Voters

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



Kevin D. Williamson had a piece at National Review on Tuesday titled Why Not Fewer Voters? Those who actually read the piece quickly learned that it was not a proposal to reduce the number of voters for its own sake, though Williamson would clearly be fine with that. It was, in the main, an argument that voter ID laws, restrictions on ex-felons voting, and similar restrictions involve a tradeoff — but to the extent that they might result in lower voter turnout, that is not necessarily a bad thing in a democratic republic:

Categorically disenfranchising felons has always been, in my view, the intelligent default position, with re-enfranchisement on a case-by-case basis. It is likely that under such a practice some people who ought to be considered rehabilitated would be unjustly excluded. But all eligibility requirements risk excluding somebody who might make a good voter, or a better voter than someone who is eligible. There are plenty of very smart and responsible 16-year-olds who would make better voters than their dim and irresponsible older siblings or their parents. That doesn’t mean we should have 16-year-old voters — I’d be more inclined to raise the voting age to 30 — it means only that categorical decision-making by its nature does not account for certain individual differences.

Similarly, asking for government-issued photo ID at the polls seem to me obviously the right thing to do, even if it would result in some otherwise eligible voters not voting. I’m not convinced that having more voters is a good thing in any case, but, even if I were, that would not be the only good, but only one good competing with other goods, one of which is seeing to it that the eligibility rules on the books are enforced so that elections may be honestly and credibly regulated.

John Scalzi, whose blog I used to read and who I did not realize had become a lazy wokester, took to Twitter to label Williamson’s column “fascist” without further analysis. I called that lazy and hyperbolic, he insulted me, and a good time was had by all. I’ll spare you the details.

In the discussion, one of Scalzi’s fans argued that if felons were treated like adults by the criminal justice system, they should be considered adults for all purposes, including voting. And, of course, any other opinion is fascism. I clarified that he meant that even a currently incarcerated serial child rapist deserves the franchise, and that any contrary opinion is fascism. He agreed. I invited him to humor me by explaining how this is so, according to any definition of fascism recognizable to the average reader. Sadly, he declined. Again, I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow.

But it got me thinking: turning that logic on its head, consider the claim we hear so often from criminal justice “reform” advocates these days, that one’s frontal cortex does not fully develop until age 25. Wouldn’t that be a reason to raise the voting age to 25? I should add that I don’t mean this proposal to be taken seriously; it’s more a jab at those who would largely excuse murders and rapes and torture by 24-year-olds than it is a serious proposal to disenfranchise voters of that age.

Anyway, Williamson has a short piece reacting to the dopey criticism of his original piece, and like the original, it’s worth a read. I don’t know that I subscribe to every aspect of both pieces, but I find them persuasive by and large, and in any event Williamson is a brilliant, provocative, and original thinker and writer.

If you bother to read past the headline, that is.

174 Responses to “Kevin D. Williamson on Fewer Voters”

  1. For what it’s worth, Scalzi has been a lazy wokester for a long time. I enjoyed “An Old Man’s War” and its sequels tremendously, but when I went to hear him speak at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, in 2014, he lost me completely as a fan. He read briefly from his then-new book, but spent most of the hour railing against white men in particular and conservatives generally. I had him sign a book that day, but I’ve never read him again since.

    That performance was hateful, but also an extreme abuse of his position — had he advertised it as a political talk, I wouldn’t have come. The bait-and-switch was in many respects more distasteful than the mere fact of his diatribe.

    I’ll give him credit for a sense of humor, though. My then-4-year-old was with me, and when we got to the desk for autographs, I explained to her that just like she liked to read books about Thomas the Tank Engine, I liked to read Mr. Scalzi. She asked him, “Do you write books about Thomas?” He gave her a big grin and said “Maybe I do!”

    Eliot (0246e7)

  2. But it got me thinking: turning that logic on its head, consider the claim we hear so often from criminal justice “reform” advocates these days, that one’s frontal cortex does not fully develop until age 25. Wouldn’t that be a reason to raise the voting age to 25? I should add that I don’t mean this proposal to be taken seriously; it’s more a jab at those who would largely excuse murders and rapes and torture by 24-year-olds than it is a serious proposal to disenfranchise voters of that age.

    I mean, if consistency is widely accepted as a virtue… yes, voting age should be raised to 25.

    I disagree with that sentiment, but it is a valid position.

    I understood Williamson’s thrust here and his reaction to those dopey criticism is *chef kiss*.

    whembly (a23745)

  3. Here’s a paragraph from Williamson’s response to his critics:

    C

    ontrary to our national political faith, voting is not a precondition of legitimacy. The People’s Republic of China is an awful and evil state in many ways, but it is not an illegitimate one in the estimate of the people who consent to be governed by it. We don’t have to like that to understand it, and we’d be better off understanding it. The European Union is a non-democratic superstate that is legitimate in spite of what some of its leaders concede is a “democracy deficit.” The U.S. Senate was not an illegitimate body when its members were not elected by the people; the Supreme Court is not made illegitimate by the fact that its members are not elected; nobody walking this earth voted for the Bill of Rights — an antidemocratic measure that puts certain things beyond the reach of mere elected majorities — but it is not for that reason illegitimate. Sixteen-year-olds are not oppressed by the fact that don’t have the vote, even though some of them pay taxes. The District of Columbia is not oppressed by its constitutional status. Etc.

    But of course “Legitimate” is a very stretchy word. Do the subjects of a government consider it vaguely fair to be ruled in such manner by such people? It is kind of important, because the more they do, the less killing that the government needs to do to be obeyed. But that has got at least as much to do with custom, indoctrination and convenience than it has to do with justice.

    Even so – and noting that it takes a conservative to truly go all lol moral relativism in service of power – in the modern American context, legitimacy very much includes democratic elections, to the point that even conservatives need to pretend to themselves that they have really won them.

    It is only wannabe aristocrats like Williamson that pretend you can rule 2021 America as an oligarchy.

    At its heart Williamson is the claim that a broad based democracy, sometimes known as the “consent of the governed” or “a government of the people, by the people, for the people” is less important than finally completely totally eliminating the possibility of election fraud or that stupid people, functionally defined as those that disagree with him, are voting.

    This isn’t new for National Review. St. Buckley during the 60’s would claim the problem in the South wasn’t that blacks were prevented from voting but that poor white people were allowed.

    But it takes modern times I guess for a national party and its pundits to sort of give up on the idea that it should actually win a majority of the popular vote and instead openly try to reduce the number of people voting.

    Or you could just fall back on the idea that Williamson is joking, just asking questions, just airily theorizing from his comfy chair in his comfy office somewhere, determined to be all controversial. Except that a lot of people are taking the idea seriously.

    Victor (4959fb)

  4. that would not be the only good, but only one good competing with other goods

    Something that is mostly ignored. Witness the rationale behind lockdowns, or the “if it only saves one child” argument.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  5. Tough argument to make raising the voting age to 30 when 18 year olds can be sent overseas to kill.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  6. But there isn’t really a consistency in arguing for a voting age of 25 on the grounds that some people are arguing that 24 year old murderers should have their age taken into account.

    Of course that actually isn’t the rule anywhere. But the claim is not that they are set free but that they are not executed or given life sentences. It is entirely reasonable to want more certainty regarding a defendant’s mental ability before we kill them or imprison for the rest of their lives than in deciding whether to let them vote. We can take more risks in letting an 18 year old vote than in executing him.

    Victor (4959fb)

  7. There are people who vote on the strangest basis — horoscopes, attractiveness, coin-flipping, a movie star’s endorsement. Yet no one questions whether they should vote.

    To me, what is important is not how they vote (or even why they vote) but that they place some value on that vote. The argument that any barrier to voting is reprehensible makes no sense to me; some slight barrier separates out those who care from those who don’t.

    But if there is a barrier, it should not be one that is racially, economically or otherwise biased as involved voters can come from any background and bring their unique perspective to the polls. I just want them bringing a perspective, rather than just a random vote.

    Complicating this is the rule that people can only vote once, and only certain people MAY vote: US citizens over the age of 18.

    (Maybe not felons, but when those rules were written “felonies” were often capital crimes. Now “lying to a cop” is a felony in places and we have this new thing called “serious felonies.” Needs work. But I digress.)

    So, you need some scheme other than the honor system to deter multiple or other unlawful voting. An ID is one easy way. A thumbprint might work, but government getting biometric data on everyone is a worry. Image recognition? Again, a worry. Right now the best anyone has is an ID card that is easy to obtain. But wait, are you a US citizen? Not only is a birth cirtificate needed for most state IDs, and those are kind of hard for the homeless to obtain, but most states do not indicate citizenship on IDs, even though they have that info.

    It would be nice to see a discussion of the general voting/registration/credentialing issue without it being a partisan debate over this law or that.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  8. Tough argument to make raising the voting age to 30 when 18 year olds can be sent overseas to kill.

    Is the Draft back again? No one tells me anything.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  9. The entire notion of representative government assumes that the actual business of governing requires fewer decision-makers rather than more.

    Question: would government be better if the legislature was replaced by an electronic forum, where any citizen could vote on every measure? Or are we better off delegating these decisions to people who’s job it is to study issues and come to a reasoned majority decision? That they do that job poorly is one strike against, but do they do it better than the masses would?

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  10. “Deserves the franchise” is the wrong framing.

    The people are sovereign, collectively. That includes *everyone*. Everyone has a right to an equal voice.

    The dialectic of ‘deserving’ implies that the franchise is a privilege which can be granted to those who are worthy and revoked from those who are unworthy. But participation in the decision making process of the nation isn’t a privilege, it’s a *right*.

    At least, it is if we are honest when we claim to be a government of the people. If the franchise can be taken away, then we are not citizens, we are subjects.

    aphrael (4c4719)

  11. Old: A “felony” is uncommon and beyond-the-pale behavior we wish to punish severely. Example: rape.

    New: A “felony” is a fairly common behavior that we want to curtail, so we deter it with a harsh penalty. Example: Borrowing money for a down payment and saying you didn’t.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  12. aphrael,

    Does the concept of citizenship enter into your argument somewhere? Surely, we don’t want people voting in airports as they pass through the country. How about people in the country unlawfully? Certainly they have reasons to want to vote. Should they?

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  13. Tough argument to make raising the voting age to 30 when 18 year olds can be sent overseas to kill.

    Is the Draft back again? No one tells me anything.

    No, but even if 18 year old men and women volunteer they should have the right (as they do now) to vote on their future.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  14. Rip, I don’t really dispute that, but the argument you made is straight out of 1968.

    But then, why can’t 18yos buy alcohol? I mean if they can be sent to fight and die….

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  15. Tough argument to make raising the voting age to 30 when 18 year olds can be sent overseas to kill.

    Is the Draft back again? No one tells me anything.

    There should be, but without any exemptions. Despite what SECDEF Rumsfeld said about the quality of Vietnam era draftees (“…adding no value, no advantage, really, to the United States armed services over any sustained period of time….) draftees won World War II.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  16. National Review: desperately seeking relevancy; NR 101: if we can’t handle the program, change the channel.

    And tomorrow, National Review will advocate baseball cut play to two strikes and you’re out for at bats; two outs per half inning; eliminate the shortstop… and smaller ball parks for more home runs– all to speed up the game!

    We’re still here in 2021! Talk about us!

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  17. everyone is enfranchised in china, it’s just that they can only vote for one party

    that’s what democrats want, shielded by nonsense claims of vote suppression and jim crow lobbed at the only alternate party

    they’re so-called election reforms put through congress makes it much more difficult for third parties to get on the ballot, and that’s what democrat enfranchisement looks like

    JF (6fcdbe)

  18. TL:DR Every system has arbitrary rules. But access within those rule should result in equitable results. Given our history this is especially true for minority voting rights.

    Our electoral system used to restrict franchise to white, male property owners. We’ve since recognized that franchise should be more universal and we let women, minorities and the poor vote. We still have rules. In some places against felons, in all places to those over the age of 18. But throughout our history it’s been true that everyone who has the right to vote should have equal access to it.

    Poll taxes and poll tests were never intended to improve the quality of the voter. They were intended to keep black people from voting. We’ve improved tremendously since the Jim Crow era but in many places those improvement have never resulted equitable access to voting for blacks. Any analysis that doesn’t include that in is deeply flawed.

    Democracies derive legitimacy from the consent of the governed. I find 2nd amendment advocates that argue the right is enshrined to help prevent tyranny persuasive, even if a modern military would make short work of the gravy seals. Voting is a large part of that legitimacy. As much as I hold tribalism in politics in contempt I have to admit it’s real. Failing to acknowledge and address what appear to be purposeful efforts to stack the deck against a particular group is a problem.

    Finally, Williamson’s argument about China erodes his point. China is not legitimate. It’s a totalitarian state ruled by force. It’s people don’t question that because doing so is a crime. Pretending otherwise is silly.

    Time123 (7cca75)

  19. aphrael (4c4719) — 4/8/2021 @ 9:57 am

    The dialectic of ‘deserving’ implies that the franchise is a privilege which can be granted to those who are worthy and revoked from those who are unworthy. But participation in the decision making process of the nation isn’t a privilege, it’s a *right*.

    A right that that can be, and sometimes is, lawfully revoked or denied. Which is why framing like this…

    If the franchise can be taken away, then we are not citizens, we are subjects.

    …is neither correct nor helpful.

    One glance at American history will confirm that voting rights have been radically expanded over our 240-plus years. These expansions have ALWAYS been the result of sustained effort (frequently decades of it). Further, they have ALWAYS taken place at state levels before the national level. (For example, African-Americans could legally vote in some states before the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. A like statement is true about women and the Nineteenth Amendment, or people between 18 and 21 and the Twenty-Fifth Amendment). In the last roughly hundred years, we have enacted ten constitutional amendments; THREE of them — four in a sense, if you count the Twenty-Third — have dealt with expansion of the right to vote.

    Voting rights enjoy a curious history, in that they have evolved significantly from their origins. They used to be largely the province of individual states and communities; now they have to a large degree become federalized. They used to be largely the province of propertied white males; now they are constitutionally prohibited from being denied to anyone on the basis of race, color, sex, age (over 18), and non-payment of taxes. But they still can be, and in fact are, lawfully taken away for other reasons…such as the commission of crimes. And they still can be, and in fact are, lawfully denied to a whole category of persons — namely, minors.

    So yes, I would say that voting rights are rights, not privileges. But if your definition of what constitutes a “right” includes the idea that it cannot be legally taken from or denied to anyone, then either your definition is wrong, or voting rights are actually privileges. I urge you to go with the first option.

    Demosthenes (1e7dbc)

  20. China is not legitimate.

    A position the United States has not held for 42 years.

    Demosthenes (1e7dbc)

  21. It sounds simplistic, but I’m with Mr. Murdock on this one. If you are a citizen and you are of an age when you can enlist and defend the USA, you should have the right to vote. If you enlist and are not a citizen, you should have a fast track to citizenship at the end of your enlistment. If you are a citizen imprisoned for a felony, you should have your right to vote restored at the end of your incarceration.

    As Lincoln said, “The Lord must love the common people. He made so many of them.” Witholding the vote is a grave action, and the means for doing so must be carefully drawn and applied. Current efforts to “improve voting integrity” appear to be tailored to affect those at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder, and I think that this is a very dangerous slope to start sliding down.

    While I’m at it, any citizen who is registered to vote should have the right to contribute any amount of his or her personal wealth to any candidate that he or she can vote for. Only individual citizens may contribute to campaigns for political candidates. The primacy of the individual voter in our elections needs to be re-established.

    John B Boddie (55235a)

  22. Breaking:

    Indicted Matt Gaetz Associate Is Expected to Plead Guilty, Lawyers Say
    ……
    The prosecutor, Roger Handberg, made the disclosure about (Joel) Greenberg’s case at a six-minute status hearing at the federal courthouse in Orlando, as did Mr. Greenberg’s lawyer, Fritz Scheller. Mr. Greenberg had been scheduled to go on trial in June, but both sides set a May 15 deadline for a plea deal. If they do not reach an agreement, the case would go to trial, they agreed.

    “We believe this case is going to be a plea,” Mr. Handberg said.

    Added Mr. Scheller: “I expect this case to be resolved with a plea deal.”

    Neither said whether Mr. Greenberg would agree to cooperate with the government’s open investigation. Mr. Greenberg, 36, is likely to face 12 years in prison and legal experts said that if Mr. Greenberg had any hope of reducing that sentence, he would have to cooperate with the Justice Department.
    …….
    Pardon the interruption. Drip, drip, drip.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  23. Scalzi has been fighting monsters and staring into abysses, but he’s forgotten his Nietzsche.

    Davethulhu (6ba00b)

  24. OT – I thought I’d see intra-departmental fragging against J-6ers in the same timeline as this JJE turn by corrections officers:

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/capitol-riot-defendant-viciously-beaten-in-d-c-jail-lawyer-says/ar-BB1fqYoX?ocid=msedgdhp

    urbanleftbehind (2641dd)

  25. @24, that’s horrible. If he was assaulted in the way it appear I hope his assailant (LEO or otherwise) is charged.

    Time123 (235fc4)

  26. At its heart Williamson is the claim that a broad based democracy, sometimes known as the “consent of the governed” or “a government of the people, by the people, for the people” is less important than finally completely totally eliminating the possibility of election fraud or that stupid people, functionally defined as those that disagree with him, are voting.

    You’re diverging pretty far from what he actually wrote into the land of how you’d like to characterize him.

    Patterico (e349ce)

  27. Why Kentucky Just Became the Only Red State to Expand Voting Rights
    …….
    Kentucky on Wednesday became the only state in the country with a Republican-controlled legislature to expand voting rights after a bitter presidential election that tested the country’s democratic institutions and elevated ballot access as an animating issue for both parties.
    …….
    The law in Kentucky establishes three days of early voting in the state; introduces voting centers that would allow for more in-person balloting options; creates an online portal to register and request ballots; and allows voters to fix problems with absentee ballots, a process known as curing.
    ……..
    …..[E]xpanding voting access in Kentucky was a low bar to clear; the state had some of the tightest voting laws in the country before 2020, with not a single day of early voting, and strict limits on absentee balloting.
    ……
    ……Kentucky’s voting rules remain comparatively stricter than those of Georgia, which recently overhauled its electoral system with new restrictions on voting. Even under Georgia’s new law, for example, the state still has no-excuse absentee voting and a much longer earlier voting period than Kentucky.

    Voting rights experts note that three days of early voting is still a short window compared with other states that offer the process, and that the law does not have a provision for no-excuse absentee voting. It also includes restrictions like the banning of ballot collection, a practice in which one person gathers and drops off multiple voters’ ballots.
    ……..
    While Kentucky’s compromise — expanding voting access while enacting some more restrictive policies in the name of election security — could serve as a model for other Republican-controlled states, it is more likely to be a blip in a year of G.O.P.-led pushes for voting restrictions.
    ……..

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  28. Another terrible part of the his reasoning.

    There would be more voters if we made it easier to vote, and there would be more doctors if we didn’t require a license to practice medicine. The fact that we believe unqualified doctors to be a public menace but act as though unqualified voters were just stars in the splendid constellation of democracy indicates how little real esteem we actually have for the vote, in spite of our public pieties.

    The current qualifications for voting is citizenship and adulthood. He’s cowardly in his failure to lay out exactly what additional requirement’s he would like to add on but by contrasting voting with being a doctor it leads the mind to a high level of knowledge about the issues and functions of government. The sounds good on the surface, but why would deny franchise to a tradesman whose primary concerns are that a leader care about people like him and follow the teachings of Jesus?

    Time123 (7cca75)

  29. “Deserves the franchise” is the wrong framing.

    The people are sovereign, collectively. That includes *everyone*. Everyone has a right to an equal voice.

    The dialectic of ‘deserving’ implies that the franchise is a privilege which can be granted to those who are worthy and revoked from those who are unworthy. But participation in the decision making process of the nation isn’t a privilege, it’s a *right*.

    At least, it is if we are honest when we claim to be a government of the people. If the franchise can be taken away, then we are not citizens, we are subjects.

    Do you disagree with age requirements for voting? Registration requirements? What’s your feeling about the example in the post regarding having currently incarcerated serial murderers and child rapists voting from prison?

    I get the idea behind your principle, but unless five-year-olds are going to vote, or currently incarcerated violent criminals, or those who have participated in armed rebellion, or illegal immigrants, then there have to be limits of some sort. And, placing to one side the grand rhetoric about how government cannot limit voting in any way (I am referencing stuff I have seen on Twitter), those limits have to be set by someone. Right? The only question is: what will they be and are those limits justified?

    I think a rational person can argue that such qualifications and limitations ought to be narrow and circumscribed. I think that once you back off of the more literal interpretation of your view as stated above, assuming you do, that will be your argument, and it is a rational argument. But it’s not beyond debate. Felons have had their voting rights curtailed since early in the country’s history, and the authority to do so can be found in the Constitution’s grant of the authority to deny voting rights to those guilty of “participation in rebellion, or other crimes.”

    Patterico (e349ce)

  30. The real case — generally unstated — for encouraging more people to vote is a metaphysical one: that wider turnout in elections makes the government somehow more legitimate in a vague moral sense. But legitimacy is not popularity and popularity is not consent….When people vote, they feel like they’ve had their say, and they are, for some inexplicable reason, satisfied with that.

    Legitimacy flows in part from the belief that you have a fair chance to have your say, the same as any other eligible voter. While I may hate the policy of the winner I at least know that they won a fair contest and that I, and those that share my concerns, had an equal chance. Williamson ignores this aspect of legitimacy. He then either displays or pleads ignorance about why people are satisfied with voting. The answer is simple. We can transfer power peacefully, or not. Most want a peaceful transition and accept that democracy gives them a equal opportunity at having their concerns addressed the next time. it’s flawed, but better then the alternative.

    Time123 (7cca75)

  31. When people vote, they feel like they’ve had their say, and they are, for some inexplicable reason, satisfied with that. We don’t accept that in other areas of life: If Amazon fails to deliver your package, you expect Amazon to actually do something about it — either get you what you ordered or give you a refund. You wouldn’t be satisfied simply yelling at a customer-service representative and thus having had your say — you expect your deliverables to be delivered. It is good to have your say, but that is not sufficient. That holds true almost everywhere, but not in politics.

    This ignorance is painfully forced. In addition to voting people who dint like the outcome organize voter registration drives to being like minded people to the polls. They organize to present their points of view to public to change minds. They write letters to elected officials. They protest and march to bring attention to their concerns. There’s a huge list of things they do other then shut up and take it.

    Time123 (235fc4)

  32. Patterico, I read this piece and the response to his critics, all of whom were apparently so lacking that they failed to present any counter arguments worth considering.

    I took a few minutes to point out some of the issues I had with is point, and his style of argument. There are reasonable cases to be made that we should restrict franchise more. He doesn’t present them head on but does so by implication. He then dismisses the counter arguments as silly and pointless. I honestly think it’s a terrible piece and I’m really wondering what about it you found persuasive?

    Time123 (7cca75)

  33. I do, in fact, believe in universal voting. Even for horrible people.

    This is based on the fact that I refuse to recognize state authority over me without my input. (I recognize it can imprison/harm/kill me, but that doesn’t make those actions legitimate.)

    I see this as a variant of “no taxation without representation.” If you do not allow me a voice in your club, then I’m clearly not a member and am not subject to whatever rules you want to have.

    john (cd2753)

  34. Oh, and I’m sick of the overuse of ‘fascism’, too. There has, in fact, been a rise in fascist activity over the last 4-ish years. But people are using it similarly to a generic 4-letter word. Using it inaccurately doesn’t do anyone any good.

    john (cd2753)

  35. But access within those rule should result in equitable results.

    No, it should approach equitable results. Nothing is perfect, see 2nd Law.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  36. The U.S. government is legitimate to non-citizen immigrants who came to the U.S. as adults–even though they cannot vote–in that they chose to come here and live under the laws of this land. They voted with their feet.

    norcal (01e272)

  37. Kentucky’s voting rules remain comparatively stricter than those of Georgia, which recently overhauled its electoral system with new restrictions on voting. Even under Georgia’s new law, for example, the state still has no-excuse absentee voting and a much longer earlier voting period than Kentucky.

    This is a perfect example of the “liberal ratchet.” Changes that are made cannot be undone, as that would be “turning back the clock” even if the original changes proved unworkable. The only measure that is allowed is “is it progressive”, which is loosely defined as “what we want.”

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  38. @29: Barring “people who already voted” is a limitation, too. How arbitrary is that?

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  39. @37, what has proven unworkable? As you pointed on in an earlier comment the goal is equitable results. Until those have bene achieved we need to continuously improve while balancing competing needs such as cost and security. Of course people who value achieving that will continue to push. Just as people who value security focus on that despite lacking evidence of fraud.

    Time123 (235fc4)

  40. Patterico,

    I agree that my characterization of Williamson was sweeping, but I’m not sure how it misstates the essence of his views. He doesn’t seem to see a particular value in government selected by a broad part of the population but instead seems to be claiming it would equally serve if only a select few made the choice. Apparently the emperor of ancient Rome is equally legitimate as Joe Biden.

    And it’s not really clear on what basis he would make a selection among voters, as his criteria seems to be mostly critiquing groups he feels lacking – ex felons, young people, people without ID. I admit to misstatement in claiming that it’s groups who disagree with him. More accurately it appears to be groups he disdains.

    With specific respect to the issue of felons voting. It’s true that historically felons have been deprived of the vote, and even from protections against slavery, but that same history demonstrates that felon disenfranchisement is intertwined with Jim Crow. It’s not simply by accident that large numbers of black people were judged criminals, used as forced labor and kept from voting, sometimes indefinitely.

    The presumption should be that an adult citizen has the right to vote, and depriving that person of the right requires justification beyond, well that’s the way it’s always been. There may be some justification to that end with respect to imprisoned felon. I’d be open to the argument.

    But once they have served the conditions of their sentence the theory of branding them with some kind of mark of shame makes little sense. And so long as our justice system imprisons some groups of people at higher rates than others, the effect is problematic.

    Victor (4959fb)

  41. I think that some are missing the point. It is not HOW do you limit the vote, but that it is not obvious that limiting the vote is harmful.

    Examples: Suppose you had to be sober to vote. Suppose you had to be able to name the current US President in order to vote. Suppose you had to be able to name the state you were currently in, to vote. I think barring those who failed these tests would improve the vote.

    Not that I’d propose these, but there are limitations (US citizen, 18yo). Some minimum level of verification is necessary, and some protection against multiple voting is desired. It may be that excluding those who have trouble with this process is harmful, but it is not obvious on its face.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  42. As many on the left are fond of saying about the 2nd Amendment, no rights are absolute. In Nevada, a rather libertarian state, I cannot carry a concealed firearm without a permit, and to get a permit, I have to pay to take a class and go to a shooting range. Furthermore, my permit is only valid for five years.

    I could argue that these requirements are overly burdensome, and are designed to make it harder for me to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights. (In fact, they have had that effect. My permit has expired, and because of Covid I avoided attending a class to renew my permit. Mail-in or absentee permits–you know, because of Covid–are not available.)

    I won’t hold my breath waiting for progressives to get as outraged about this state of affairs as they are with Georgia’s voting requirements.

    norcal (01e272)

  43. that same history demonstrates that felon disenfranchisement is intertwined with Jim Crow

    How is that? Felon disenfranchisement was a fact in most places whether the observed Jim Crow or not. Happened during the same period doesn’t mean anything, unless you want to conflate LSD and the Moon landing.

    The exception in the 13th Amendment does not authorize “slavery” as punishment for a crime (and never has been used that way anyway), but it does allow for coerced labor as punishment. There is a vast difference between a road gang and chattel slavery.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  44. @41, All of that sounds fine in theory but one of the problems we have today is that impediments to voting in GA are distributed evenly and black voters have a harder time voting then white voters. Philosophical arguments are fine, but this conversation isn’t taking place in a vacuum.

    Time123 (7cca75)

  45. I do not agree that felons should be granted the vote “when they are released from prison.” I’m open to that when they are finished with any parole or other supervision. But let’s not get so high on out “all rights” bandwagon unless you are willing to let them have firearms then, too.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  46. And so long as our justice system imprisons some groups of people at higher rates than others, the effect is problematic.

    Victor (4959fb) — 4/8/2021 @ 1:13 pm

    Is it not possible that certain groups or cultures commit a disproportionate share of crime?

    norcal (01e272)

  47. black voters have a harder time voting then white voters.

    Why “black voters” ? Do you mean “indigent” or “uneducated” or some other broad type of voter that is disproportionately black? There are poor, stupid and ignorant whites in GA and the3y seem to be able to vote just fine considering some of the folks they elect.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  48. that same history demonstrates that felon disenfranchisement is intertwined with Jim Crow

    How is that?

    Because black people didn’t experience equal justice in Jim Crow? I’m not sure, but would love to know, if there were more explicit attempts to use felony status as part of Jim Crow.

    Time123 (7cca75)

  49. And so long as our justice system imprisons some groups of people at higher rates than others, the effect is problematic.

    Why does the anti-male bias bother you so?

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  50. @48: AIUI, Jim Crow effectively disenfranchised people on the basis of race (several schemes like the Grandfather clause). Can’t see why they’d need to use more than that. If they convicted blacks of felonies more readily (and I would assume they did), it wasn’t to impact their voting rights.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  51. now they are constitutionally prohibited from being denied to anyone on the basis of race, color, sex, age (over 18), and non-payment of taxes

    Demosthenes (1e7dbc) — 4/8/2021 @ 10:57 am

    Does this mean people who owe taxes and haven’t paid, or people who owe no tax under the law? If the former, I’m all for suspending their right to vote until they are current with their tax payments.

    If a person is not paying what is owed to the government, then that person should have no say in how the government is run.

    norcal (01e272)

  52. if more eligible voters go to the polls then the outcome will more closely reflect what the average American voter wants. That sounds like a wonderful thing . . . if you haven’t met the average American voter.

    That’s certainly… one way to think about the country.

    (This is going to be long and I am NOT sorry and do not apologize.)

    …having more people vote is, ceteris paribus, a good thing. Why should we believe that?

    Well, friend, it depends on where your value system is.

    Probably the form of government that is efficiently “best” for the people is a benevolent dictatorship. Generally speaking, we (including people who would be part of the despised above average American voter) having had over 2000 yrs of experience with this system in various forms and places found the monarchical version of this to be at best unreliable and at worst a system in which entire populations could be arbitrarily killed by the government for no particular reason. We currently find this system today with people like Fidel Castro and in a number of African countries. It hasn’t seemed to work out real great in modern versions either. So, strike down the idea of only one vote.

    What about just a reduced number, several hundred to perhaps several thousand votes? That, friend is an oligarchy. We experimented with that too, in various Greek cities, in the formation of the feudalistic nobility, occasionally in the form of merchant rule. This system was also prone to abuses of the general populous, though on a more varied and sometimes less universal scale, but it also led to severely abused “justice” systems and significantly curtailed discovery and innovation by limiting who could or could not advance educationally, socially, or financially. It does tend to create a relatively stable society, though, so if that is the value, then go for it, I guess. We see this in China today.

    However, if solely having a relatively stable society is not your single value, then what about limited democracy? We could just let the “smart” people vote (define smart people) or the “responsible” people (define responsible) or the property owners or any random group we value over any other random group. Why not that? We (in this case directly us as Americans) tried that as well. What it led to was the abuse of people who could not vote. It resulted in chattel slavery and other kinds of labor abuses, minorities not being able to access education, and women having very few rights at all. Williamson in fact uses the example of people voting on slavery, “If we’d had a fair and open national plebiscite about slavery on December 6, 1865, slavery would have won in a landslide” He appears to mean a fair and open plebiscite of people who were allowed to vote in 1865. I think he forgets that a truly fair and open plebiscite would’ve included the slaves, who probably wouldn’t have voted for slavery. The limited plebiscite of 1865 he is talking about is a version of his idea of fewer voters, it might not be the way he would choose to limit the plebiscite today, but is in fact an a example of the problem of a limited plebiscite.

    So, we have seen historically the ways in which limiting the plebiscite to one, or a some, or a set of limited defined categories of people ends up with situations where large segments of the non-voting populations can and are abused and/or oppressed.

    Can such abuses happen under broad sufferage? Yes, of course. They are more limited because those likely to be abused do have a vote for themselves, they can’t just be willy-nilly oppressed without any recourse. We have also set up a system for ourselves in which we put into place people who know more about a subject area or who are more interested in broad governing topics or who we believe have the time and ability to study such things who then do the direct governing who we can then vote out if they don’t appear to be living up to their responsibilities. We have also both put into place ways of limiting the power of the majority to abuse the minority and some difficulty in changing those protections, as well have having entrenched the idea that those protections are inviolable as a societal value. But, you say, that could be done under any of the above systems. It is, I say, far harder to convince a broad and diverse group of people to agree to create an abuse against a societal value than it is to convince a small group of similar and like minded individuals.

    So, why is having more people vote a good thing? Because it reduces the potential for abuse and oppression by the government and other politically empowered persons.

    the republic would be better served by having fewer — but better — voters?

    Define “better”. Williamson appears to prefer that some adult citizens not be able to vote. I do not personally, in this specific case, define him as a better voter than a felon who believes all adult citizens should be able to vote. Should he not be able to vote since I find his belief in this article to be antithetical to the American ideal? Should a person who dropped out of high school to take care of her younger brother after their mother died from cancer, their father died in the line of duty as a police officer and then their guardian died in a car accident not be able to vote (this is a real example of a former student of mine)? “Better” is in the eye of the beholder and any given American’s idea of a “better” voter will be different than any other given American’s idea of a “better” voter.

    all eligibility requirements risk excluding somebody who might make a good voter, or a better voter than someone who is eligible

    Again this undefined term of “better” voter.

    Similarly, asking for government-issued photo ID at the polls seem to me obviously the right thing to do, even if it would result in some otherwise eligible voters not voting.

    Well, we already know that Williamson is fine with having fewer people vote, why would this be different? Why would we expect him to value the right to vote in and of itself?

    I’m not convinced that having more voters is a good thing in any case, but, even if I were, that would not be the only good, but only one good competing with other goods, one of which is seeing to it that the eligibility rules on the books are enforced so that elections may be honestly and credibly regulated.

    Yeah, we know he doesn’t like the average American voter.

    1. It should be possible to both run a regulated election and yet not disenfranchise people.

    2. We are not having a problem honestly and credibly regulating our elections. Election fraud is not a significant problem. Voter suppression is more of a problem, but as Williamson has stated he doesn’t have a problem with that.

    why shouldn’t we also expect them to keep their drivers’ licenses up-to-date

    He is aware that there are aduls in this country who don’t have drivers licenses, yes? Some of them are urban, some of them have seizure disorders or other disabilites, some of them were not good drivers, some of them made poor choices with substance use.

    act as though unqualified voters were just stars in the splendid constellation of democracy

    Define “unqualified voter”. What does this mean? Does it mean stupid person? Define that. Does it mean ignorant person? In what way are they ignorant? Define it. Is it like some Senator and his view on pornography? Do you just know it when you see it?

    It is (ed. voter fraud) — spare me your sob stories — something that should be prosecuted in most cases

    Straw man. No one thinks voter fraud shouldn’t be prosecuted.

    It is a fact that many of the things that would be useful in discouraging and preventing voting fraud would also tend to make voting somewhat more difficult for at least some part of the population.

    Oh, look, a factual thing. At least that’s intellectually honest.

    One argument for encouraging bigger turnout is that if more eligible voters go to the polls then the outcome will more closely reflect what the average American voter wants. That sounds like a wonderful thing . . . if you haven’t met the average American voter.

    Well, I see we’ve reached a point where we might get some idea of what “better” means. Apparently it does not mean the average American.

    Voters — individually and in majorities — are as apt to be wrong about things as right about them, often vote from low motives such as bigotry and spite, and very often are contentedly ignorant.

    Voters sometimes disagree with home and he doesn’t like their motivation. How’s his motivation, I find it suspect myself, under his system, maybe he shouldn’t be able to vote since I don’t think his motivation is pure enough. And, again, please define ignorant. Bob DowntheStreet who works in a warehouse, is probably ignorant of how to run a fortune 500 company. Mitt Romney is probably ignorant of the challenges of raising a family of 5 on a forklift operator’s salary or the workplace conditions of said forklift operator. All of us are ignorant about some things and knowledgeable about others.

    If the question is the quality of policy outcomes, then both major camps have reasons to dread genuine majority rule.

    What is a “quality” policy outcome? Obviously one can think it’s the police outcome we agree with, but is that the objectively “quality” outcome for the entire country? There is no guarantee of that. And the “quality” outcome isn’t one everyone agrees on. What I think is a “quality” outcome is an outcome someone else thinks is trash. Maybe the “quality” outcome is the one that most of the people agree on and can live with, and not always the one that creates the objectively most efficient method of policy. One could argue that the best “quality” outcome for a dead body would be to return it directly to the soil as it is, or to leave it out as carrion, or to render it into soap and/or other practical materials. I don’t think most people would agree that that is a “quality” outcome however. “Quality” outcome and “ideologically pure” are not the same thing.

    The entire notion of representative government assumes that the actual business of governing requires fewer decision-makers rather than more.

    No, it assumes that people don’t have the ability to have everyone doing everything all the time. In a representative Democracy, we pick a person who we believe holds similar values to us to study the issues and the law and weigh the outcomes and advantages and disadvantages and vote in a way that we would also vote if we were able to spend the time doing that job instead of this other job we are already doing.

    Representatives are people who act in other people’s interests, which is distinct from carrying out a group’s stated demands as certified by majority vote

    But are they really? I think there’s some debate on that. Hard to stay elected if a representative is acting in ways the majority of their voters disagrees with.

    we do not extend the vote to them (children, mentally incapacitated people, incarcerated felons, and non-citizen permanent residents)

    He manages to be correct again, we do not extend the vote to people who are incapable of understanding voting, who are currently being punished for being bad citizens, or who have not chosen to be Americans.

    To vote is only to register one’s individual, personal preference, but democratic citizenship imposes broader duties and obligations. When we fail to meet that broader responsibility, the result is dysfunction: It is no accident that we are heaping debt upon our children, who cannot vote, in order to pay for benefits dear to the most active and reliable voters.

    He almost, almost gets it here, but then doesn’t.

    Voting is, among other things, an analgesic. It soothes people with the illusion that they have more control over their lives and their public affairs than they actually do.

    Well that’s… certainly…. a take.

    While it is true that my personal vote doesn’t have much say in presidential policy, there are a lot of people in PA, the upper midwest, GA, AZ, and NV whose votes very definitely did, and you can see it especially in presidential priorities.

    However, my personal vote and voice could have a hell of an impact on local politics, especially in off elections with only a few thousand votes.

    When people vote, they feel like they’ve had their say, and they are, for some inexplicable reason, satisfied with that.

    We don’t accept that in other areas of life: If Amazon fails to deliver your package, you expect Amazon to actually do something about it — either get you what you ordered or give you a refund.

    I’m not sure that Williamson has been paying much attention to political activism? Maybe? Is he aware that people call and write their representatives all the time? That they attend town halls and demand answers? That they protest? That they choose who to give money to or who not to give money to, and where to place their votes next time? Maybe he just forgot. Maybe he’s ignorant.

    the fact is that voters got us into this mess. Maybe the answer isn’t more voters.

    Williamson thinks the voters created a situation he thinks is messy so maybe they should not be able to vote. That’s special.

    Nic (896fdf)

  53. @48: AIUI, Jim Crow effectively disenfranchised people on the basis of race (several schemes like the Grandfather clause). Can’t see why they’d need to use more than that. If they convicted blacks of felonies more readily (and I would assume they did), it wasn’t to impact their voting rights.

    Kevin M (ab1c11) — 4/8/2021 @ 1:35 pm

    What I’m wondering is
    1. Were the crimes classified as felonies increased as part of Jim Crow
    2. Were blacks more likely to be charged with felonies under Jim Crow
    3. Were felons disenfranchised during Jim Crow and is there evidence that it was part of Jim Crow

    Time123 (7cca75)

  54. Damn, Nic. That was epic!

    You should send it to Williamson. He claims to be looking for good responses, and yours is.

    norcal (01e272)

  55. I clarified that he meant that even a currently incarcerated serial child rapist deserves the franchise, and that any contrary opinion is fascism. He agreed

    Then Israel is one of the few non-fascist states. Even the assassin of a prime Minister (Yitchak Rabin in 1995) can vote. But there is virtually no absentee voting.

    It has voter ID but that did not prevent voter impersonation.

    In 1999, a religious party, not confident that students on a stipend would vote, borrowed state IDs (they are religious so they were trusted) and hired others to vote (they had to trust them to vote for their party but they took that risk) lined them up and someone selected people who looked like the voters they were impersonating and sent them off, making sure though they could rattle off without looking their ID number.

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  56. It has proportional representation and at that time only 1% was needed to make it into the Knesset.

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  57. @56

    Proportional representation = giving a 1% group a lever with which to hijack the government.

    norcal (01e272)

  58. People who can’t vote won’t have their interests respected.

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  59. A summation:

    As is no doubt apparent from my comment above, I have several fundamental disagreements from what Williamson appears to be saying.

    1. I believe in the ideal that every adult citizen not currently being punished for a severe violation of the citizenship standards should have the right to vote for the person who represents them in government.

    2. I do not believe that the value in democracy is in achieving outcomes I agree with. In order to say that one values democracy, one must be able to accept that sometimes the outcomes will be outcomes that one thinks are absolutely the wrong ones, sometimes even all of the outcomes might be outcomes one thinks are the wrong ones. The value in democracy is in the community working together to achieve outcomes the community as a whole can come together enough on to mostly agree to be able to live with most of the time. It does not require perfection or purity.

    3. If there are concerns about election security (which is not really a significant problem, but lets just posit that it is for the purposes of this discussion) standards should be put into place that both work to secure the election AND maximize enfranchisement. I don’t think we should just put ill considered (or well considered ones that block the “right” kind of legitimate voter 😛 ) security standards into place and say “whatever losers” to anyone who is a legitimate voter but has difficulty getting their bureaucracy together enough to be able to vote.

    Nic (896fdf)

  60. Good comment Nic.

    Time123 (235fc4)

  61. Kevin M (ab1c11) — 4/8/2021 @ 9:54 am

    That they do that job poorly is one strike against, but do they do it better than the masses would

    You coulld use the combination of repeated lotteries and selection that the Republic of Venice used.

    https://rangevoting.org/VenHist.html

    Thus the process for electing the Doge, as of 1268 (when it was employed for the election of Lorenzo Tiepolo), had reached this amazing almost-final form [Lane p.111; also described by Lines p.156]:

    Choose 30 of the Great Council members (of whom there were 1000-to-1500, typically; all male) by a random process;

    Reduce them to 9 by random processes;

    The 9 name 40 nominees;

    The 40 are reduced to 12 by a random process;

    the 12 name 25 nominees;

    Reduce them to 9 by random processes;

    The 9 name 45 nominees;

    Reduce them to 11 by random processes;

    The 11 named 41 (all of whom had to be age ≥40 years);

    The 41 elected the Doge (from among nominees they chose; any of the 41 could write a name on a slip of paper, and from then onward, that name was a candidate) by range3 voting!

    This choice theoretically was subject to approval or veto by the mass of the people (assembly) but I am unaware of any instance in which that veto was exercised. This perhaps meant this step was a mere formality with the People not really having any power. But another interpretation is that the threat of a veto kept the Grand Council honest in its choice – they refused to risk the embarrassment of a veto.

    In this process, only the penultimate step – the election – “really mattered” – the rest was mainly intended to make the identity of the 41 unpredictable hence making the process (hopefully) uncorruptible. The 41, during their deliberations, were sequestered rather like the juries in modern-day big-time criminal cases. This again was presumably intended to insulate them from corruption.

    The voters employed “range3″ voting to elect the Doge. That is, each voter gave a score from the 3-element set {-1, 0, +1} to each candidate (this was accomplished via a scheme involving balls you could put into boxes, where there was one box for each candidate). The candidate with the greatest score won. However, there was also a supermajority requirement: in order to win, you had to get at least 25 “approval” (i.e. +1) votes. This, note, exceeds a bare majority (which would be 21). If the winner did not achieve this 25-approval threshold, then deliberations by the 41 would continue with re-votes as necessary until somebody achieved the threshold. Incidentally, by a coincidence (?) or brilliant design (?) the 25 threshold is exactly the greatest integer below 63.2% of 41, and a paper by A.Caplin & B.Nalebuff: On 64% majority rule, Econometrica 56,4 (1998) 787-814 claims that 63.2% has theoretical advantages as a threshold. (Specifically, “preference cycles” of 63.2%-supermajority preferences are impossible under certain assumptions about voter distributions. This theorem seems unlikely to me to have much practical importance.)

    I would have though 61.8034% (phi) was a good threshold but maybe 63.2% is better.

    Why it ended:

    Rowson is of the apparent opinion that Venice gradually became corrupt. The problem was that their democracy was intended to be for the benefit of the rich male “nobles,” which was not the same as for “everyone.” That may have been good at first because those were the smartest most successful people in Venice and their interests coincided well with “everyone’s.” But toward the end, they weren’t the smartest who got rich due to their shrewdness and merchant success; they were just the ones who happened to be born into the right family lines, and they stayed rich by corrupting government power (e.g. customs duties) for their own purposes.

    According to Rowson, “Venice was being bled dry so that the aristocrats could keep gambling at the tables.” And, we might add, cavorting with prostitutes. By the time Napoleon the juggernaut came, the once-huge Venetian navy was down to only a few ships and there was nothing they could do to defend themselves.

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  62. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to research criminal disenfranchisement as thoroughly as I’d like, but I would at least like to show that my view that it is intertwined with Jim Crow is not just my own opinion:

    It wasn’t until the end of the Civil War and the expansion of suffrage to black men that felony disenfranchisement became a significant barrier to U.S. ballot boxes. At that point, two interconnected trends combined to make disenfranchisement a major obstacle for newly enfranchised black voters. First, lawmakers — especially in the South — implemented a slew of criminal laws designed to target black citizens. And nearly simultaneously, many states enacted broad disenfranchisement laws that revoked voting rights from anyone convicted of any felony. These two trends laid the foundation for the form of mass disenfranchisement seen in this country today.

    https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/racism-felony-disenfranchisement-intertwined-history

    For one particular example, the Alabama 1900 Constitutional Convention that had as one of its purposes making sure black people didn’t vote anymore also expanded the scope of felonies leading to disenfranchisement. The 1901 Constitution stated the following: “The following persons shall be disqualified both from registering, and from voting, namely:

    All idiots and insane persons; those who shall by reason of conviction of crime be disqualified from voting at the time of the ratification of this Constitution; those who shall be convicted of treason, murder, arson, embezzlement, malfeasance in office, larceny, receiving stolen property, obtaining property or money under false pretenses, perjury, subornation of perjury, robbery, assault with intent to rob, burglary, forgery, bribery, assault and battery on the wife, bigamy, living in adultery, sodomy, incest, rape, miscegenation, crime against nature, or any crime punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary, or of any infamous crime or crime involving moral turpitude; also, any person who shall be convicted as a vagrant or tramp, or of selling or offering to sell his vote or the vote of another, or of buying or offering to buy the vote of another, or of making or offering to make a false return in any election by the people or in any primary election to procure the nomination or election of any person to any office, or of suborning any witness or registrar to secure the registration of any person as an elector.”

    I am not saying that Jim Crow was the sole historical basis for disenfranchising criminals. But to my best understanding its use was increased drastically post Reconstruction, and particularly in the South.

    Victor (4959fb)

  63. @Norcal@54 Thanks. IMO Williamson wrote a massively condescending piece of ill thought out and poorly reasoned blather than I have fundamental disagreements with. It might have irritated me a little.

    @Time@60 Thanks.

    (and that’s what the universe gets for making me sit at home recovering from dental work 😛 )

    Nic (896fdf)

  64. Define “better”.

    White men with property and single-shot Brown Bess muskets at the ready; squirrel stew for supper washed down w/warm ale and rum from lead-pewter tankards served by buxom wenches tired from churning butter all day while the darkies picked the cotton.

    You know… 1789.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  65. @Sammy@61

    cavorting with prostitutes

    Listen, Veronica Franco appears to have been a fairly intelligent person. Maybe she gave good political and economic advise.

    @DCSCA@64 Ah, but Williamson didn’t define it that way. He didn’t explicitly define it at all.

    Nic (896fdf)

  66. Excellent job nic.

    Kevin,

    As for anti male bias. If legislatures were predominately women and had been for some time, and if one party was predominately associated with women and the other not, and if there was some history to suggest that women were using felony disenfranchisement laws as a means of supporting their continuing political dominance, why then yes I would be worried about anti male bias in the laws.

    History is important. It’s annoying but it’s not ignorable.

    Victor (4959fb)

  67. “No amendment to the Constitution is absolute.” – President Plagiarist, 4-8-2021

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  68. @65. Well, it’s the logical starting point for his pitch— unless he wants to go fullback and scrimmage w/Mel Brooks in Magna Carta times…

    “When Things Were Rotten” – ABC TV, 1975

    😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  69. No one can really argue that Chinese rule in Xinjiang is legitimate (it is accepted as legitimate because U.S. foreign policy generally is against breaking up foreign countries, and when it does advocate that it is to avoid or settle a civil war and even then it is for not merging the broken piece with another country and so far that hasn’t happened. The idea is this policy prevents wars.)

    The government in Xinjiang (once spelled Sinkiang) is considered legitimate – with the asterisk that the regime is committing genocide (not the colloquial definition of genocide but the one in the genocide treaty so we can call it genocide in the second degree)

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/04/12/surviving-the-crackdown-in-xinjiang

    https://www.newyorker.com/news/a-reporter-at-large/china-xinjiang-prison-state-uighur-detention-camps-prisoner-testimony

    The government in Hong Kong is also considered legitimate (if that’s the right word) except that China is violating an agreement (= treaty) it made with the United Kingdom before the turnover. Rule by Great Britain would be considered much more consensual than what they have had since – even though colonial powers, even if democratic and generally kind have from time to time made horrible decisions for the people affected. Free and fair elections tend to prevent that. If they happen.

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  70. Kevin M (ab1c11) — 4/8/2021 @ 1:25 pm

    There is a vast difference between a road gang and chattel slavery.

    Yes, I must correct myself.

    I think a road gang was what Joe Biden was accusing the Republican Party of wanting for blacks in 2012. Slaves were whipped.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gII8D-lzbA

    I also think that, taken by the opportunity to make a play on words, Joe Biden probably came up with that at the spur of the moment. He was after all, saying that to an affluent, educated audience.

    Political donors.

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/biden-tells-african-american-audience-gop-ticket-would-put-them-back-in-chains Biden told more than 800 ticketed supporters that Romney wants to repeal the financial regulations enacted after the Wall Street crash of 2008. “He’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules – unchain Wall Street!” Biden said. Then he added, “They’re going to put you all back in chains” with their economic and regulatory policies.

    Now maybe Biden tried that a few times before being stopped by the uproar. I don’t know.

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  71. Breaking- two mass shootings:

    5 dead, including 2 kids- in SC; another w/6 victims in Texas- one dead, 5 wounded; developing stories.

    Yep. America is back!

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  72. Victor,

    I think you may have missed Kevin’s point. Like me, he was responding to this statement of yours:

    And so long as our justice system imprisons some groups of people at higher rates than others, the effect is problematic.

    Your statement seems to imply that there is systemic racism because certain groups are incarcerated at a higher rate than other groups. My point is that some groups (or cultures) may commit a disproportionate share of crime, and would thus be rightly incarcerated in larger proportions.

    Men are incarcerated at a much higher rate than women. Does that mean there is systemic sexism going on?

    norcal (01e272)

  73. Men are incarcerated at a much higher rate than women. Does that mean there is systemic sexism going on?

    norcal (01e272) — 4/8/2021 @ 3:35 pm

    Here’s what one feminist had to say. TL:DR Yes.

    Time123 (ae9d89)

  74. Patterico, at 29:

    > Do you disagree with age requirements for voting?

    Yes and no. It’s complicated. :)

    As a matter of principle, children are part of the community, they are as much sovereign as you or I. As a *practical* matter, children do not have the capacity to form or exercise judgment in a meaningful way *on the kinds of issues that a sovereign people must decide*. An arbitrary age line is a proxy for that capacity, and while we can generally agree that an eight year old doesn’t have the capacity and in general a thirty year old does, I think there’s room for debate about where the line in practice falls — and since all in the nation are effected by the decisions we make as a nation, the line should be drawn to exclude as few as possible. I’d support lowering the voting age to 16, for example.

    > Registration requirements?

    I support registration requirements that are nothing more than administrative procedures needed to make sure that decision making runs smoothly. There are a lot of us, and any process involving this many people needs administrative procedures for it to be *functional*. But I want them to be as minimal as possible to achieve the goal.

    > What’s your feeling about the example in the post regarding having currently incarcerated serial murderers and child rapists voting from prison?

    They are part of the sovereign public and should be allowed to vote. They should be required to vote at their address prior to incarceration, because they have no actual interest in local affairs in the place where they are imprisoned and aren’t actually part of that community, but they’re part of us, and in order for them to be subject our laws, they have to have a say in the making of the laws.

    > I think a rational person can argue that such qualifications and limitations ought to be narrow and circumscribed.

    As a matter of principle, they have to be as minimal as they can be, because *otherwise* they cease to be rights and become priviliges that can be granted or taken away at the whim of the public.

    If the franchise is *not* universal, than those who are ineligible are not citizens in the full meaning of the world; they are subjects, ordered about by those who have the power to make orders and, ultimately, unfree to order their own affairs.

    aphrael (4c4719)

  75. Demosthenes – I think it’s quite clear that in the day when voting rights were not universal, those who did not have voting rights were not citizens in a meaningful sense, and that they were subjects of those who did have voting rights.

    aphrael (4c4719)

  76. Kevin M – fair point that those with transient connections to the community are not part of the sovereign people and so don’t get to participate in our decision making.

    But at the same time, I think it’s reasonable for a city to say, hey, the people who actually live here, regardless of national citizenship, are part of the community and should have a say in *local* decision making.

    I voted against the initiative to do that in SF school elections entirely for process reasons (maintaining two voter rolls in the same election is a pain and error prone, if we want to have different eligibility for different elections we need to deconsolidate them).

    aphrael (4c4719)

  77. Patterico — i’d add, a more interesting and difficult question is people who are sufficiently mentally deranged to be unable to relate to reality in any way.

    they’re part of the community. morally they have an equal share to me in our collective sovereignty. but they’re incapable of exercising it. but how do we *determine* that, and how do we make the process for determining that robust against abuse?

    aphrael (4c4719)

  78. I’m not convinced that having more voters is a good thing in any case, but, even if I were, that would not be the only good, but only one good competing with other goods, one of which is seeing to it that the eligibility rules on the books are enforced so that elections may be honestly and credibly regulated.

    KW’s framing is doing a lot of work. Unfortunately it’s a straw man, so it loads the rhetorical deck. The question of how much democracy is optimal is interesting but academic. We answered it with a Constitution and 230 yrs of SCOTUS jurisprudence. We can still argue around the edges, but voting is firmly established as a fundamental right of citizenship. It’s that individual that needs to be weighed in the election law wars, not KW’s abstract general one.

    Compare the gun rights debate. Gun control advocates argue restrictive regulations are needed to limit the harm from easy availability of guns. Applying KW’s framing, the pro-gun counter-argument would be “guns are good, so more guns are better.” But that’s not the argument we make. The actual argument is that the RKBA is a fundamental constitutional right, and if you want to regulate it, that’s what has to be weighed in the tradeoff, not the abstract matter of how many guns in society are optimal. “Should we have so many guns?” is an interesting question, but it was rendered academic by the Second Amendment.

    The correct framing of interests weighing against these pro-regulation, harm reduction [gun deaths/election fraud] ones are fundamental rights [RKBA/right to vote], not abstract calculations of the ideal quantum of guns or democracy.

    lurker (59504c)

  79. *It’s that individual right that needs to be weighed…*

    lurker (59504c)

  80. If you pay taxes in any way, shape or form, you should have the right to vote, be it kiddies buying Bazooka bubble gum or befuddled Uncle Joe purchasing a new pair of green-shaded aviators.

    Think of it as a “Poll Tax.”

    Oh…

    Wait…

    😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  81. Demosthenes – I think it’s quite clear that in the day when voting rights were not universal, those who did not have voting rights were not citizens in a meaningful sense, and that they were subjects of those who did have voting rights.

    aphrael (4c4719) — 4/8/2021 @ 4:43 pm

    Again, if throwing out an unqualified universal statement is the tack you’re going to take, then there’s really no way for you do dodge the response that “the day” you’re talking about is TODAY, as well as all our yesterdays. Voting rights are not, have never been, and never will be “universal.”

    I really don’t know why I am bothering to respond, since your comment at #76 shows you — on your own terms, mind you, not mine — to be a hypocrite. You admit to being willing to keep others as subjects in matters that you tacitly imply really do concern them, while you take your part in exercising the collective sovereignty of a community you share with them. Apparently, their moral right to help guide the education of their children should give way before your mere process concerns.

    I mean, I don’t have a problem with your vote, or your reasoning. But you should.

    Demosthenes (b3a5d9)

  82. Patterico, I have known John Scalzi through friends of mine (you know the details) for many years. A fine writer, but absolutely a wokester. And just as John McWhorter argues, progressivism is too often a religion. John genuinely believes that his opinion is natural law.

    If I had known you were dueling with him, I would have urged you to save the electrons. After all, not only does that particular metaphorical “pig” like it, but he consistently brags to his congregation how he outargues others. He is just as tiresome as poor David Brin.

    I just want to bray “Four legs gooooood…two legs baaaaad” when I see them opine.

    I knew them way back when. Oh well. They are famous. But at least I don’t call people “fascist” when I mean “I don’t like you.”

    Best wishes.

    Simon Jester (b44756)

  83. > He is just as tiresome as poor David Brin.

    what’s your beef with Brin? *curious*

    aphrael (4c4719)

  84. I have known Dave for thirty years. He has always had, um, a high opinion of his own opinion. But as he wrote less and less, he became more and more political. More and more certain of his own near religious righteousness. He stopped listening and began talking over others.

    So now he spends most of his time arguing and name calling. I had to quit staying in contact. Which is a shame.

    Me? I remember his fabulous short stories, and fun advice about life.

    I miss that David Brin.

    Simon Jester (b44756)

  85. What I’m wondering is
    1. Were the crimes classified as felonies increased as part of Jim Crow
    2. Were blacks more likely to be charged with felonies under Jim Crow
    3. Were felons disenfranchised during Jim Crow and is there evidence that it was part of Jim Crow

    1. No, at least not as they would affect whites.
    2. I would think so.
    3. Yes, and no that was not the thrust.

    My point was that Jim Crow already prevented blacks from voting, law-abiding or not. They didn’t need to pile on with felonies to do that. They convicted blacks more easily for other racist reasons (e.g. keep the black man down). It was unrelated to whether it would impact their right to vote.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  86. If there are concerns about election security (which is not really a significant problem, but lets just posit that it is for the purposes of this discussion) standards should be put into place that both work to secure the election AND maximize enfranchisement.

    I am actually more concerned about electoral disenfranchisement — it is a far bigger problem than fraudulent ballots — but I disagree that voter IDs are necessarily the evil here. I have posted several ways that being ABLE to submit an ID with an absentee ballot can decrease disenfranchisement for certain voters.

    I think there were literally hundreds of thousands of valid ballots that were disqualified due to signature mismatches in the last election. Elderly whose signatures had deteriorated, for example. The subjective process with standards that vary from county to county, and from worker to worker, and is overtaxed in an election like 2020 will result in massive false negatives.

    This isn’t about who should have won (hint: Biden won; it’s done), but the idiocy of using such a fallible and subjective method to validate ballots. There are better ways. I think that GA is trying another way. I also think it’s not that good.

    Again, see this long and detailed examination of absentee ballot validation by the non-conservative L.A. Times.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  87. So, let’s say that voters don’t need to possess ID and can register to vote on election day by simply claiming the right. What limitations would more liberal folks put on this? Would they need later to produce some document of some kind? Or, do we just do this on the honor system?

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  88. I read more than I do anything else. Nothing by Scalzi or Brin. Not ever. You can tell a book by its cover, yes, yes, you can, trust me on this.

    When Tor bought Scalzi, and I mean that literally,

    Patrick Nielsen Hayden, the executive editor for Tor, said the decision was an easy one. While Mr. Scalzi has never had a “No. 1 best seller,” he said, “he backlists like crazy.”

    “One of the reactions of people reading a John Scalzi novel is that people go out and buy all the other Scalzi novels,” Mr. Nielsen Hayden said.

    What that means is that John Scalzi needs to maintain positive name recognition with the kind of people who read Tor’s progressive weird tales. Wokesters. Ergo, ….

    nk (1d9030)

  89. Second, what is the problem with the current ID system that prevents some from obtaining ID? Should there be a national, permanent ID that can be retrieved biometrically, saving everyone a lot of ongoing bother with birth certificates and state IDs? Or is the problem with the current system that some people just don’t WANT an ID, or don’t want to take the time to get one?

    I read that some don’t have a current ID (although GA, at least, does not require it to be current). I read that many don’t “ready access” to their birth certificate. I think the government has such, but they do make it a bother. Can we fix that? Maybe everyone gets a personal ID number and pin and that can gather up all one’s records? As someone who spent some time getting hold of my late father’s WW2 discharge papers, I can see how that might be helpful.

    It’s easy to say “Getting an ID is hard” or “These folks are less likely to have an ID” but this is something many people do every day. What’s broken? What do we do to fix it? Just throwing up our hands isn’t the answer.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  90. There are a lot of writers who don’t embed their politics in their books. Or mostly don’t. Brin, well, his non-fiction is less believable than his fiction. His “Uplift War” is really quite good. His later work is ignoreable for other reasons (e.g. bad).

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  91. nk, I used to write fiction, and I know some of these people. And OMG, the nuttiness.

    Me, I just want to read fiction that I enjoy. I don’t care to be preached at from the page. Or if I am going to be preached at, can it at least be entertaining and engaging?

    Simon Jester (b44756)

  92. Kevin, I adore many of DB’s short stories. Such fun.

    And I agree that the Uplift War is awesome.

    Simon Jester (b44756)

  93. I like Charles Stross, too, although a couple of his books (5 & 6 of the Clan Corporate) were terrible anti-W, anti-America tirades that pretty much destroyed his series. But mostly he doesn’t do that. His “Laundry” books are wonderful.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  94. I think we are currently in CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN and don’t even know it, Kevin.

    Simon Jester (b44756)

  95. I disliked Brin’s recent “Existence” Tedious bore, and thought his “Infinity’s Shore” to be a terrible conclusion to a fine series. Deus ex machina squared.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  96. I think we are currently in CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN and don’t even know it, Kevin.

    Well, our Demon lord has been replaced by the Lizard people. I swear I’ve seen Biden’e eyes blink sideways.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  97. I try not to think about it, Kevin. Like “Press Enter” by John Varley, I do NOT want to know more.

    Simon Jester (b44756)

  98. Biden as the sleeper in the pyramid. 😀

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  99. That’s why I have installed pirated firmware all around my house, running SCORPION STARE.

    Simon Jester (b44756)

  100. ‘…in any event Williamson is a brilliant, provocative, and original thinker and writer.’

    ‘In 2018, Williamson briefly joined The Atlantic. His employment was terminated following public criticism of a 2014 Twitter discussion in which he suggested hanging as a criminal punishment for abortion and his reiteration of this suggestion on his National Review podcast in 2014. Williamson later wrote that his comments had been intended to “mak[e] a point about the sloppy rhetoric of the abortion debate” rather than to promote capital punishment, noting that he had previously expressed strong reservations about capital punishment in general.’ -source, wikibio.skewered

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  101. @Kevin@86 I am not necessarily against voter ID, but I’m against a lot of ways people have wanted to do it, plus it is a process fraught with possibilities for abuse.

    “We’re going to put our Cascade regional center in Redding. It has open hours from 6AM to 9PM, Saturday from 8-5. We will have satellite offices in Weed, Eureka, and Susanville open weekdays from 10AM to 4PM. You will need an official copy of your birth certificate, a photo ID (Driver’s license, real ID, passport, or military ID) your social security card, proof of current residence (mortgage statement or current lease agreement in your name) and a notarized signed copy of this statement which you can either print out or pick up at once of our offices. You must do this every time you change addresses. Figure it out.” (for frame of reference the proof of residence about 10% of our students’ parents provide is a note from a friend or relative that says they live with them and a copy of the friend/relative’s utility bill). Looks reasonable on the surface, but on a practical basis I have now significantly disenfranchised this heavily Republican area of the state of CA.

    For all the non-California people I put the main office in the center of northern 3rd of the state, which is a mountainous area that can take hours to drive across (Redding straight north to the CA/OR border is about 2ish hrs via I5 and it is the only freeway in the region) and has limited crossing points and the satellite offices out in the middle of no-where. It looks vaguely geographically reasonable on a map, but really really isn’t.

    To do voter ID correctly, so that it wasn’t disenfranchising people, would take a lot of planning, a lot of outreach, and a lot of money. And I think there are an unfortunate number of people who want to pass voter ID without that kind of care.

    Nic (896fdf)

  102. If I weren’t certain that Mr. Williamson was basically trolling the libs being tongue in cheek, I would send him a calendar with a note that we are in 2021 not 1821.

    nk (1d9030)

  103. @102. ROFLMAO

    Thread winner.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  104. R.I.P. James Hampton

    Taps for ‘F-Troop’ Bugler, Trooper Dobbs.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  105. @89 The problem with our current ID system is that it is slow, cumbersome, and annoying to navigate. Office hours and placement changes, and it is not set up for anyone who can’t take an hour off during the work day and needs to be able to get a picture ID quickly. I did check the CA Real ID process and at least they’ve updated it to be quicker from what they required last fall (no I haven’t gotten mine yet, I have a passport so it hasn’t seemed urgent) but it’s still a time consuming and annoying hassle. 😛

    Nic (896fdf)

  106. @105. The ‘problem’ -for better or worse- is it is ‘broken up’ state by state, like DMVs– and not a Federal system, which is more or less the intention. ‘Course overseas, we could obtain an international DL, valid in nations recognizing same. We could just issue everyone a SS# and a photo ID and passport, a medical booklet, national health card and a gun permit at birth and have them renewed every few years if needed and at 16, a standard nationwide DL, but most states- and likely insurance companies as well- would fight that. 😉

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  107. @DCSCA@106 My national ID card arrived at my house on my 13th birthday without any effort on my part (or my parent’s part) at all. Of course at the time and on the daily, I was already carrying a US Military ID, a NATO ID, an identifiable by the MPs official school bus pass, and (when traveling) a passport, so it was just one more thing to stuff in my wallet (no, we very much Did Not Lose our stuff. It was a Big Deal.). I do not personally have a problem with national ID, but I’ve had them before. (I am contemplating getting a passport card as well the next time I renew my passport, in case I want to wander into Canada at some point when traveling further north.)

    Nic (896fdf)

  108. Question: I think liberals want IDs to be necessary for getting a Covid vaccine, and everybody to get one, including illegal immigrants. How is this actually working out? Nobody ever writes about this. Do they relax the ID requirement for some people?

    https://www.boston.com/news/coronavirus/2021/04/07/walgreens-vaccine-massachusetts-id-policy

    Walgreens reminds staff that ID isn’t required for vaccine in Massachusetts, after some residents were turned away

    “Our policy is to not turn away individuals who do not produce an ID.”

    ….Individuals are required to sign an attestation form confirming they are among the groups currently eligible to make vaccine appointments in Massachusetts, but state officials have repeatedly said that “no additional proof is needed.” And though residents are asked to bring their ID and health insurance card if they have them, state rules are clear that they’re not required. And the federal government also has mandated that the vaccine is free to all eligible residents, regardless of immigration status.

    “You can get a vaccine even if you do not have insurance, a driver’s license, or a Social Security number,” notes one document on the Massachusetts state website.

    That hasn’t prevented some apparent confusion.

    In one example, Rastegayeva said, a Portuguese-speaking man who had booked an appointment at a Walgreens in Worcester said he was turned away after providing a Brazilian passport when asked to show ID. Massachusetts COVID Vaccination Help subsequently directed him to go back to the pharmacy and two volunteers explained the state rules to the store’s staff. Eventually, after filling out some additional forms, the man was able to get his shot, Rastegayeva said.

    Apparently no ID is actually required, and no insurance information either (even though that’s how they decide who pays for it) but they underpubicize that fact.

    Same thing in Wisconsin:

    https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2021/04/07/no-id-needed-get-covid-19-vaccine-wisconsin-official-says/7128860002

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  109. > Nothing by Scalzi or Brin. Not ever

    That’s a shame, honestly. _Startide Rising_ and _The Uplift War_ were *absolutely fantastic*. _Earth_ was really good, but has somewhat been outrun by events. _Glory Season_ was fascinating and well executed. I have a real soft spot in my heart for _The Practice Effect_.

    The second Uplift trilogy wasn’t as good but I still enjoyed them, but he hasn’t put out any truly interesting fiction in a long time.

    aphrael (4c4719)

  110. @107. I do not personally have a problem with national ID, but I’ve had them before.

    Me neither. And they literally ‘open a lot of doors’ too. But we’ve been exposed to more of the world than some suspicious, lifelong resident of Upper Sandusky, Ohio who’d balk at the invasiveness of the ‘papers please’aspect of the thing. I found them quite useful to access everything from airport, hovercraft and train terminals to hotels and banks for currency exchange or just to impress some British ‘dolly bird’ w/ID at a pub. The only issue we had w/t UK papers was the requirement to carry their ‘little green booklet’ as resident aliens, which had to be reupped every 3 years, and produce it ‘on demand’ to any officials- police or otherwise– who asked. It was a bit annoying; the document was cheaply produced- simply unprotected paper- w/a b/w photo stapled into it w/a official stamp across it- and of course subject to a lot of fraying and pocket wear and tear- and you always feared it would be overlooked and go through the wash–so we’d inevitably keep them in a geeked-up buttoned in a breast or pants pocket or a wallet liner. But generally, the int’l IDs were quite helpful. Like my old CBS ID- as CBS was a ‘patron of the arts’ in NYC, it got myself and a guest into all the NYC museums for free and good deal on Broadway tkts.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  111. The conservative position falters on the belief that the court of last resort is the supreme court. As in the dred scott decision and in the rodney king decision the opposition appealed to a higher court. In the dred scott decision it first was appealed at harpers ferry and then antiem creek and finally cemetery ridge. Truck driver reginald denny found out the hard way that the street is the highest court in the land. From lexington green to the stone wall inn the street decides. Go to haarlem, south side of chigago or south cental LA. Put up a stand and broadcast why to many of “them” voting is a good thing. As paul newman said to richard boone in the movie hondo. “Hey I got a question how you going to get back down the hill?” As Malcolm X said by any means necessary! Conservatives may think they can get away with stoping black voting in texas or georgia because corporate democrat joe biden’s donor class will try and play it safe and just ask for cheese with their whine. But the left (AOC will bring latinx along) and blacks stacy abrams thats 3/4 of the democratic party will demand action as the radical republicans did by sending in the troops during reconstruction despite andrew johnson being president.

    asset (885710)

  112. @111, I think the violence at harpers ferry had more to do with whether new territories would enter as slave states or free states then run away slaves. Either way, equating modern conservative issues with the abolitionist movement is silly.

    Time123 (b4d075)

  113. Well, back in the day, only land-owning white men were allowed to vote, not women and certainly not slaves (African and Irish). That’s why there was an abolitionist and a suffrage movement from the beginning. It just took more than a few decades to sort everything out. And it’s still not sorted out.

    I’m opposed to restrictions on voting, because I believe in free and fair elections. But here’s a radical proposal: only taxpaying citizens should be allowed to vote. It is their money the government is spending, after all.

    Old enough to work and pay taxes, old enough to vote. That would lower the minimum voting age to 16.

    Of course, this proposal does come with complications. What about women who left the workforce to raise children? What about the unemployed or those on welfare? What about reformed felons who work and pay taxes? Do sales taxes count? So many questions, so few answers.

    This is why we need serious reforms in our country, on just about everything.

    Gawain's Ghost (b25cd1)

  114. Kevin,

    You make this statement:

    My point was that Jim Crow already prevented blacks from voting, law-abiding or not. They didn’t need to pile on with felonies to do that. They convicted blacks more easily for other racist reasons (e.g. keep the black man down). It was unrelated to whether it would impact their right to vote.

    The point being made in the article I previously cited to you is that “Jim Crow” was not a sudden complete quick move to segregation and voting suppression but the accumulation of policies, laws, and violence that took place together over the 25 years or so from the end of Reconstruction to 1900. Notably that large numbers of black men were registered to vote in Alabama (or perhaps Mississippi, I don’t have the reference right in front of me) right through the 1890’s, despite violence, and that number only dropped precipitately when new election laws were passed making it more difficult to register or vote.

    As for the connection with felony disenfranchisement, I give you this sequence of events in Mississippi:

    In 1896, the Mississippi Supreme Court considered a challenge to the state’s 1890 constitutional convention, which had explicitly barred individuals convicted of certain petty offenses from participating in elections. The selected offenses were almost exclusively applied against African Americans, while crimes of which whites were regularly convicted (including rape and even murder) did not affect voting rights. In endorsing this seemingly bizarre duality, the court declared that race affects the type of crime to which one is prone:

    “The [constitutional] convention swept the circle of expedients to
    obstruct the exercise of the franchise by the negro race. By reason of its previous condition of servitude and dependence, this
    race had acquired or accentuated certain peculiarities of habit, of
    temperament and of character, which clearly distinguished it, as a
    race, from that of the whites—a patient docile people, but careless, landless, and migratory within narrow limits, without aforethought, and its criminal members given rather to furtive offenses than to the robust crimes of the whites. Restrained by the
    federal constitution from discriminating against the negro race, the convention discriminated against its characteristics and the offenses to which its weaker members were prone.”

    Remarkably, Mississippi continued to allow many violent offenders to vote while disenfranchising many minor offenses until the late 1960s, when all ex-felons were excluded from voting

    https://www.nypl.org/sites/default/files/manza_uggen_-_chapter_2.pdf

    Whites in Mississippi may not have “needed” any single part of the Jim Crow system but they used all of them together to enforce white supremacy.

    Victor (4959fb)

  115. @114, Vitor, that’s pretty compelling evidence that Mississippi used the criminal justice system to keep blacks from voting.

    Voter suppression wasn’t a bright line that created a full stop in blacks voting. It was (is?) a series of filters. Each one blocks some people and in isolation is harmless and defensible. But the sum total adds up to a meaningful impact.

    Time123 (b4d075)

  116. Gawain, I think only 5 states lack a sales tax.

    Time123 (b4d075)

  117. Victor,

    I think you may have missed Kevin’s point. Like me, he was responding to this statement of yours:

    And so long as our justice system imprisons some groups of people at higher rates than others, the effect is problematic.

    Your statement seems to imply that there is systemic racism because certain groups are incarcerated at a higher rate than other groups. My point is that some groups (or cultures) may commit a disproportionate share of crime, and would thus be rightly incarcerated in larger proportions.

    Men are incarcerated at a much higher rate than women. Does that mean there is systemic sexism going on?

    Norcal. I said the effect was problematic, not a conclusive sign of invidious discrimination. I assume there are probably very few small children in prison either, or people who are deaf and blind.

    Is sexism the reason for the greater number of men in prison, or is it a consequence of biology and culture – i.e. macho culture that valorizes fighting.? I don’t know. But the additional claim you seem to be making is that there is something biologically peculiar about black people that predisposes them to crime. Or perhaps that there is something about American culture that pushes black people to commit more crimes. I reject the former outright and will not try to engage with you about it. As for the latter, I’d need more evidence, but even if it were, than that American culture would itself be apparently implicated with systematic racism.

    But on the question of systematic sexism in the system? Again, it simply does not concern me because in every other aspect our system is sexist the other direction, most particularly in who runs the government, and has been running it since the beginning. I can’t actually be worried about the system, as a whole, discriminating against men until there’s some sign that men aren’t the ones running the system.

    Victor (4959fb)

  118. Time123,

    Thanks. An interesting part of the article I cited noted that the U.S. is apparently one of the few countries, perhaps the only, that continues disenfranchisement after leaving prison.

    And those “sob stories” Williamson refers to re voting prosecutions. Perhaps he’s talking about Crystal Mason, facing five years in prison because she voted a provisional ballot while on supervised release, at the urging of her mother:

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/mar/20/crystal-mason-texas-upholds-sentence-voter-suppression

    The vote was never counted because provisional and Mason was ineligible. Mason claims she was unaware she was still barred from voting and there’s evidence to support that. The prosecutor still thought it was a good idea to send her to prison for five years.

    Victor (4959fb)

  119. Is it fair for you to vote yourself access to other people’s money? Be it through broad-based entitlements, subsidies, licensing restrictions, tariffs, price fixing, etc. I think if we scratch through Williamson’s core argument…..it’s about the power of government….and how elections have become an advance auction sale of stolen goods [hat tip to H. L. Mencken]. Now it’s not just progressives with free college, free health care, a $15 minimum wage, and on and on and on….but corporatists trying to gain market advantage….at the cost of everyone else paying a bit more. The federal government has long ago gotten away from its limited constitutional mission….and the genius of having most decisions kept closest to the people those decisions effect.

    Fundamentally who would disagree with everyone eligible having a say about their representation? But who also doesn’t agree that the voting process should be fair…and that there should be some minimal threshhold for testing eligibility and windowing when we have voting? It should be on political parties to Get Out The Vote….and assist people with registration and securing a basic ID….like the one needed to buy Sudafed cold medicine at the local pharmacy…or prove your identity for any legal proceeding. We the people through government can compel people to have ID’s to buy guns or booze, but we can’t turn around and require the same for voting. Seems odd.

    Still, the problem isn’t numbers…per se….but that there are moves afoot for numbers to matter more (National Popular Vote Initiative, killing the filibuster, court packing, …) and to dilute the inspired countermajoritarian design of the Constitution. It should be hard for you to take my money to enrich yourself personally. I want civil liberty origanizations to care more about that….

    AJ_Liberty (a4ff25)

  120. AJ

    The filibuster is not part of the inspired countermajoritarian design of the Constitution. In fact I think Madison would probably have disapproved.

    Court packing is completely consistent with our inspired Constitution, and perhaps an important check against an unelected, antidemocratic and too powerful Court.

    And you know, if you put together the right ID for a beer or a smoke or for Sudafed, then you get a beer or a smoke or a Sudafed. But when you vote, what do you get? Not much. Inconvenience, an I voted sticker and the near infinitesimal possibility that your vote effected an election. Perhaps we’d like to encourage people to vote by making it easier than getting a beer, because it’s not really going to be as rewarding.

    Victor (4959fb)

  121. Court packing is an important check but the filibuster ain’t nothing…

    But when you vote, what do you get? Not much. Inconvenience, an I voted sticker and the near infinitesimal possibility that your vote effected an election. Perhaps we’d like to encourage people to vote by making it easier than getting a beer, because it’s not really going to be as rewarding.

    Actually, people who see it this way shouldn’t vote. If the vote isn’t inspired in a love for the country, seen as a patriotic duty, and showing ID is realy harshing their mellow, dude, then the act is going to be transactional, full of voting booth ‘decisions’ (guesses).

    Voting is hard work if you do it right, meaning thinking and reading and asking yourself what is right. It is a lot harder than flashing an ID that all true voters have.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  122. @121, Dustin, I don’t know if you saw it, but in the previous thread I found evidence showing that there is already a disparate impact based on race in voting in GA. I thought you point that no one was proving that while demanding that you prove fraud was a good one.

    On this comment specifically I think people who have a understanding of what they want and a simple way to finding it should have the same right to vote as people like you or I who find it interesting and dig into the details.

    I have a friend, he’s a good guy. Helps his neighbors, goes to church occasionally, helps with kid activities like sports. From what i know of you I think you’d like him. He’s an avid outdoorsman who loves to hunt and fish. Politics bores him. When we get together I don’t bring it up and he doesn’t talk about carving pipes by hand. They’re not touchy subjects. It’s just boring. He does vote though. Every general election he goes in. Votes party line GOP and yes to any attempt to give money to schools. He told me once he votes GOP because of guns and Church, mostly guns. He votes to increase school funding because “stupid people are annoying”. He’s middle class and lives in an exurb so there aren’t any real impediments to him voting. But I don’t think black guy who lives in the city and has to move frequently to keep rent low should have a much harder time of it then my friend.

    Time123 (c9382b)

  123. Victor, you would acknowledge that the filibuster IS countermajoritarian…with its goal to compel compromise and give the minority some leverage? And current motivations to end it are driven by a desire to expand the welfare state? Again, the desire to spend other people’s money is strong….and it’s a powerful tool for getting re-elected and holding power. My point wasn’t about “is the filibuster called out in the constitution”…but is abandoning it and moving toward a more pure democracy a good thing? I would say such a move will signal our political system….premised on compromise….is heading to the precipice….hence the nuclear option.

    With regards to “what someone gets voting”….you’re missing my point….someone is hoping for free tuition, free child care, a bump in wage. Voting in many respects is now about redistribution and what side of the issue you stand on. Why exactly do we need to further incentivize it…like bribing a child to do something? And why do we have to infantalize people about ID’s? You can’t vote multiple times….you can’t vote if you are not registered…..how do you police any of that if you can’t reasoably ask someone to confirm their identity? Again, why can’t the GOP and DEM’s use their considerable resources to help people accomplish those basic tasks? The last 50 years has seen an amazing simplification to voting….yet still more than a 1/3 of people choose not to do it. It seems like that in itself is a vote to not engage….why force them?

    AJ_Liberty (a4ff25)

  124. AJ
    I’m not going to get into ID with you right now, I don’t have the patience. Perhaps I’ll put a response in later.

    As for the filibuster, it doesn’t have a “goal”. It’s an accidental byproduct of Aaron Burr’s desire to simplify Senate rules by getting rid of methods of calling the question. During most of its history, say 1880’s through 1960’s, its principal purpose was not to “compel compromise” but to give a stubborn minority the ability to block legislation it detested, and that stubborn minority was usually Southern senators blocking civil rights bills.

    The current Democratic problem with it goes way beyond money bills, which can be kind of shoehorned into reconciliation if necessary. HR 1 has nothing to do with money and everything to do with making voting accessible, fair and secure across the country and getting rid of crappy antidemocratic features like gerrymanders. And its fortune right now is tied to the filibuster, i.e. even if the president, a majority of the HOuse and a majority of the Senate want it to happen, representing a big majority of the country, a stubborn minority will block it.

    If Republicans wanted to demonstrate a purpose to the filibuster they’d be trying to work out a compromise. But they’re not going to. The filibuster is the tool they have to stick a spoke in the wheel, and that’s pretty much it.

    As for ending the filibuster means we become a “pure democracy”? Sigh. No filibuster means that a bill is passed if the president, a majority of the House (which is heavily gerrymandered) and a majority of the Senate (which is tilted against Democrats because of empty Western states) agree to it and the Supreme Court isn’t upset with it. This is not easy to do, and it’s a long long way from a “pure democracy”. We’re a representative democracy, not a pure one, but for reasons having to do with history we’re not even prepared to actually to let a majority of our representative wield actual power.

    Victor (4959fb)

  125. Dustin,

    I disagree that unpatriotic uninspired people shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Of course I am influenced by the fact that those breaking into the Capitol on 1/6 had just been told by their president that they were inspired patriots.

    Victor (4959fb)

  126. The thing that creates the most burden on voting in Georgia is long lines, which the new bill does virtually nothing about, except to prohibit private parties from giving money to election jurisdictions they select (instead a fund to be distributed across the state is authorized to be created) It does allow in certain circumstances a state takeover of a local election jurisdiction.

    But the long lines are created in election jurisdictions run by Democrats. I guess they don;t want to covert money, and maybe it is better for political hacks to have fewer voters.

    If there weren’t long lines there wouldn’t be this issue about water.

    It’s not clear who is responsible for this.

    https://www.npr.org/2020/10/19/925501018/why-georgia-is-facing-long-lines-at-the-polls

    KATHY: Stephen, who’s responsible for these decisions to close these polling places or not add additional ones? And what do they have to say about these findings?

    FOWLER: Well, there are bipartisan county elections boards that make these decisions in conjunction with their hired supervisors and the county commissions that provide funding for their budgets. It’s important to note that this is an issue that affects both white Republican areas of the state as well as Black Democratic strongholds, so it’s not a partisan issue. It’s ultimately about resources. And what we’ve seen in the numbers here in Georgia is that Black voters in particular are hit the hardest by not having the same access to resources as white voters.

    Do they get centrally funded by the state? I don’t think so. He just said county commissions provide funding. So Democrats are responsible for making it difficult and time consuming for Democrats (particularly black Democrats) to vote. Maybe that’s good for the incumbent politicians in local primary elections.

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  127. Jim Crow already prevented blacks from voting, law-abiding or not. They didn’t need to pile on with felonies to do that

    When you examine it closely, I think the claim is made that felony disqualification, or the creation of more felonies, was instituted before Jim Crow, even before the “redeemers” took control of the states.

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  128. However, the current dysfunction in our political process isn’t there because of the filibuster. There’s no compromise because of political polarization…in large part created by media and social media bubbles. Few on the Left were calling for the end of the filibuster when the GOP controlled all three branches of government and wanted to aggressively act on illegal immigration….or fight terrorism….or modernize corporate taxes. Ending the filibuster does nothing to address the underlying problems….there’s very little room to be a moderate and to find compromise….FNC and MSNBC will eat you alive. The same with trying to de facto end the Electoral College by constitutionally suspect interstate compacts. Choose candidates and platforms that appeal more broadly…..there’s no mystery that the popular vote doesn’t elect the President.

    Ending the filibuster means clanking back and forth between political extremes. Why wouldn’t the party in charge…even by an infinitesimal majority…..of both houses swing for the fences….and why would we EVER have compromise? It will lead to greater extremism and even further polarization. Voting is very accessible…in most states you have over two weeks and can vote absentee….with a lot of voting by mail. This is another cynical manufactured crisis that is an insult to actual Jim Crow abuses.

    AJ_Liberty (a4ff25)

  129. R.I.P. Prince Philip, 99.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  130. Actually, people who see it this way shouldn’t vote

    Most don’t. They have better things to do. And I see no reason to plead with them to share their poor judgement with the rest of us.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  131. I disagree that unpatriotic uninspired people shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

    Well, that’s not what Dustin said. He said that they probably shouldn’t vote, not that they should be prevented from voting.

    What you argue is that any barrier to voting (e.g. a line longer than 3 people) is a bar to voting, and what I (and likely Dustin) say is that some effort on the part of the voter is a good thing.

    As I said before, we don’t have to send a limo. You called that hyperbole, but everything you post makes me think not.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  132. AJ, Voting in GA is not equally accessible.

    https://www.npr.org/2020/10/17/924527679/why-do-nonwhite-georgia-voters-have-to-wait-in-line-for-hours-too-few-polling-pl

    The metro Atlanta area has been hit particularly hard. The nine counties — Fulton, Gwinnett, Forsyth, DeKalb, Cobb, Hall, Cherokee, Henry and Clayton — have nearly half of the state’s active voters but only 38% of the polling places, according to the analysis.

    As a result, the average number of voters packed into each polling location in those counties grew by nearly 40%, from about 2,600 in 2012 to more than 3,600 per polling place as of Oct. 9,

    onathan Rodden of the data collected by Georgia Public Broadcasting/ProPublica found that the average wait time after 7 p.m. across Georgia was 51 minutes in polling places that were 90% or more nonwhite, but only six minutes in polling places that were 90% white.

    Time123 (c9382b)

  133. Kevin, I didn’t see your post when I replied to AJ. But there’s documentation in my comment to him that the issue is more than ‘a line longer then 3 people’ as you dismissively put it and that the issue has different impacts based on race. Your assertions that people concerned about this are being unreasonable is false.

    Time123 (c9382b)

  134. When you examine it closely, I think the claim is made that felony disqualification, or the creation of more felonies, was instituted before Jim Crow, even before the “redeemers” took control of the states.

    Well, then what? During Reconstruction? If then, it would be difficult to say this was about disenfranchising blacks. Before the war? Not much more “disenfranchisement” you can do to an enslaved person.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  135. Time, I was responding dismissively to Victor, who has no problem trumping anything up or painting his opponent with things they never said.

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  136. @128, Winner take all seems to work with a parliamentary system because of it’s multi-party nature. the need to make a coalition damps extreme policy swings. I agree with you that winner take all in a 2 party system would be a problem. Given that many congressional elections are over in the primary I think it would work out horribly.

    Time123 (c9382b)

  137. Kevin, Here’s some evidence that in Mississippi there was an intentional link between felony disenfranchisement and keeping blacks from voting.

    In 1896, the Mississippi Supreme Court considered a challenge to the state’s 1890 constitutional convention, which had explicitly barred individuals convicted of certain petty offenses from participating in elections. The selected offenses were almost exclusively applied against African Americans, while crimes of which whites were regularly convicted (including rape and even murder) did not affect voting rights. In endorsing this seemingly bizarre duality, the court declared that race affects the type of crime to which one is prone:

    “The [constitutional] convention swept the circle of expedients to
    obstruct the exercise of the franchise by the negro race. By reason of its previous condition of servitude and dependence, this
    race had acquired or accentuated certain peculiarities of habit, of
    temperament and of character, which clearly distinguished it, as a
    race, from that of the whites—a patient docile people, but careless, landless, and migratory within narrow limits, without aforethought, and its criminal members given rather to furtive offenses than to the robust crimes of the whites. Restrained by the
    federal constitution from discriminating against the negro race, the convention discriminated against its characteristics and the offenses to which its weaker members were prone.”

    Remarkably, Mississippi continued to allow many violent offenders to vote while disenfranchising many minor offenses until the late 1960s, when all ex-felons were excluded from voting

    https://www.nypl.org/sites/default/files/manza_uggen_-_chapter_2.pdf

    Victor had provided this previously but I think you missed it.

    Time123 (c9382b)

  138. @135, I’ll bow out, because I’m making a similar to point to him I’m taking your comments as directed at me when they’re not. I think this is an interesting topic though.

    Time123 (c9382b)

  139. But I do not agree at all with the “disparate impact” = “racial discrimination” argument. Some things just have disparate impact. Poor people are more affected by cash bail. Or rent control. To the degree that the poor are disproportionately black, this affects them more, too. But it is not clear that either of those things are inspired by racism.

    Should all disparate impacts be eliminated from society? How? The reducio ad absurdum is “Harrison Bergeron.”

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  140. I disagree that unpatriotic uninspired people shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

    OK clearly, because you think people showing an ID, like they would for beer, are too burdened to do this supposedly miserable and unrewarding work.

    I think voting is fun, I enjoy reading about the issues, and knowing what I think. I think voting is easy. Stand in line for a while (we have phones so even this is nothing) show an ID, mark a ballot. I don’t understand your argument, perhaps because you didn’t really articulate it.

    What’s the value in someone who doesn’t want society to thrive, is not patriotic, having a voice in the election? I understand they have an intrinsic right to a vote, but that’s not what you said. What’s the value?

    Dustin (4237e0)

  141. @137: And again, that the white supremacists used something to further their subjugation of blacks does not mean that that tool was created for that purpose.

    The selected offenses were almost exclusively applied against African Americans

    Like literacy tests they were not applied uniformly. What you argue is that they used new laws that they targeted at blacks to disqualify them from voting, but if not that it would have been something else. If they made “voting while black” a disqualifying felony, that does not mean that they were using felonies to disqualify people. They were just finding a reason where the normal ones didn’t work. My objection here is that conflating felony disenfranchisement with racial bias is cherry-picking history. Much earlier felonies disenfranchised people primarily because they were either executed, or serving long sentences in conditions that would kill them.

    Classically, the “grandfather clause” was adequate. Only people where citizens before the war, or whose ancestors were, could vote.

    A half-dozen states passed laws that made men eligible to vote if they had been able to vote before African-Americans were given the franchise (generally, 1867), or if they were the lineal descendants of voters back then. This was called the grandfather clause. Most such laws were enacted in the early 1890s.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/10/21/239081586/the-racial-history-of-the-grandfather-clause

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  142. *where = who were

    Kevin M (ab1c11)

  143. But I do not agree at all with the “disparate impact” = “racial discrimination” argument. Some things just have disparate impact.

    It’s just a fact that many demos are impacted by many things, and a selective analysis of voting on this basis is electioneering. Someone (probably you) mentioned men are incarcerated more than women. No one cares. Men have a shorter lifespan too. No one cares. Blacks are incarcerated more than whites. Suddenly this is a voter rights issue.

    Granted it is easy to identify racism related to voting rights, but that’s why we need a simple, common sense test.

    Can anyone easily vote, or not?

    Dustin (4237e0)

  144. Kevin M (ab1c11) — 4/9/2021 @ 9:23 am

    What you argue is that any barrier to voting (e.g. a line longer than 3 people) is a bar to voting, and what I (and likely Dustin) say is that some effort on the part of the voter is a good thing.

    But what that does is help bad incumbents, political machines and public employee unions, particularly the teacher’s unions.

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  145. Kevin and Dustin, I’m not asserting that all disparate impacts are a problem. I’m asserting that in a state with a history of trying to keep black people from voting, where there has never been a time where voting access was equitable between races, the fact that we can still document that it’s harder for black people to vote is a problem worth working on.

    In a previous thread Dustin complained (rightly IMO) that people opposed to increasing security demanded that security improvements be proven to be necessary while not providing evidence to support the need to increase access to franchise. I’ve provided evidence to support the assertion that in the state of GA blacks faced greater burden then whites in voting in the most recent primary.

    Time123 (c9382b)

  146. 134. Kevin M (ab1c11) — 4/9/2021 @ 9:34 am

    During Reconstruction? If then, it would be difficult to say this was about disenfranchising blacks. Before the war? Not much more “disenfranchisement” you can do to an enslaved person.

    One year I seemed to hear was 1866. It was a failed attempt to avoid certain election outcomes. It’s hard to find out. They actually didn’t need that till 1870.

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  147. You’ve made some great arguments, time 123. I just can’t keep up honestly.

    We must abolish elections and go to the random-phonebook-acracy. I also would like to institute thunderdome law. Bust a deal face the wheel, for example.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  148. Dustin, No worries man. I (like you) enjoy talking about this. For me it’s educational and helps me work out my thoughts on the matter. For instance I’m not concerned about the ID requirements in GA based on specifics in the law; it can be expired, it can be from a different address etc. Other parts of the law seem like problems to me. Allowing the legislature to take over local elections, reductions and roadblocks to getting to the polls both seem like a problem to me. Much of that I wouldn’t have worked out if you and Kevin hadn’t been stating your points as you had.

    I’m in for thunderdom IF it’s televised. I got 20$ says Hunter easts Jr’s still beating heart to cement the election for Joe.

    Time123 (c9382b)

  149. does Hunter eat anymore? He doesn’t seem to have teeth. That meth life yo.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  150. R.I.P. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; British royal, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, 99.

    Two steps behind in the wife in life; two months short of his 100th birthday.

    Condolences to Liz; Rule Britannia, girl:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB5Nbp_gmgQ

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  151. @149, exactly. He’s a strung out crazed tweaker powered by meth and psychosis. Don Jrs a high functioning coke head.

    It’s no contest.

    Time123 (9f42ee)

  152. R.I.P. DMX, an extremely talented rapper whose personal life got the best of him in the end

    Icy (6abb50)

  153. When you examine it closely, I think the claim is made that felony disqualification, or the creation of more felonies, was instituted before Jim Crow, even before the “redeemers” took control of the states.

    Well, then what? During Reconstruction? If then, it would be difficult to say this was about disenfranchising blacks. Before the war? Not much more “disenfranchisement” you can do to an enslaved person.

    Time, I was responding dismissively to Victor, who has no problem trumping anything up or painting his opponent with things they never said.

    Like literacy tests they were not applied uniformly. What you argue is that they used new laws that they targeted at blacks to disqualify them from voting, but if not that it would have been something else. If they made “voting while black” a disqualifying felony, that does not mean that they were using felonies to disqualify people. They were just finding a reason where the normal ones didn’t work. My objection here is that conflating felony disenfranchisement with racial bias is cherry-picking history. Much earlier felonies disenfranchised people primarily because they were either executed, or serving long sentences in conditions that would kill them.

    Kevin,

    I am hurt, mildly, that you would find my contributions so lacking. Can you tell me what you think I am trumping up? You denied there’s a connection between felony disenfranchisement and Jim Crow. I supplied what I hoped was at least some evidence to the claim. What do you think I’m exaggerating?

    As for your further arguments, if you read the articles I’ve been citing, the point is made that Jim Crow was developed in state laws following Reconstruction, over a period of years, ending in constitutional conventions, at least in some states, in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s. And also as noted, felony disenfranchisement predated the Civil War but even then had some ties to racism. There were free black men in nearly every state, and there’s at least some evidence that rules set in place to restrict their ability vote included felony disenfranchisement.

    But the bigger point is that felony disenfranchisement became a much bigger deal after Reconstruction, and at the same time as a host of other measures whose effect was to reduce the number of black men voting.

    Now your point seems to be that that may be true, “but if not that it would have been something else”. So what? If felony disenfranchisement was one of the various tools that was actually used, then it is part of the history of Jim Crow that actually happened. That’s not cherry picking history, except to the extent that I’ve not supplied you with an exhaustive history of felony disenfrancisement laws in every state because, …it’s exhausting. I’ve given you a good example, Mississippi. If you can find states where felony disenfranchisement had nothing to do with race, throughout its history, then we can get a comprehensive view. But to simply lob an accusation of cherry picking without backing it ups seems to me,.. oh, inappropriate.

    Dustin,

    I think voting is fun, I enjoy reading about the issues, and knowing what I think. I think voting is easy. Stand in line for a while (we have phones so even this is nothing) show an ID, mark a ballot. I don’t understand your argument, perhaps because you didn’t really articulate it.

    What’s the value in someone who doesn’t want society to thrive, is not patriotic, having a voice in the election? I understand they have an intrinsic right to a vote, but that’s not what you said. What’s the value?

    I will try to articulate my argument better. You are projecting your feelings about voting into a universal truth. As it happens we are agreed – I also enjoy voting, and trying to have some impact on the country. When Washington had in person voting I enjoyed the interaction with poll workers, and now that it’s all mail in voting, I enjoy filling out the ballot and putting it in the mail.

    But we are not the world. Democracy is not justified on the idea that it only works if everybody in a society is an informed passionate voter. It’s justified on the idea that government should operate with the consent of the governed, even if some of the governed would prefer to do practically anything else with their time except think about politics. They will still have opinions about roads, taxes, schools, air quality, child care, war and epidemic disease. And their desire to have these opinions translated into government action are still valid even if they don’t like the politics of how it happens.

    I grew up in an America where it was taken as a matter of course that democracy, despite its imperfections, was still the way to go. We believed, like Churchill:

    “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

    Victor (4959fb)

  154. AJ Liberty,

    There’s much to respond to you in your post, but I guess I will just say that the filibuster, in its current form, does nothing to reduce political polarization. It just ensures that electoral majorities aren’t allowed to govern.

    Victor (4959fb)

  155. You are projecting your feelings about voting into a universal truth.

    It’s called CONFIDENCE.

    But point taken.

    Democracy is not justified on the idea that it only works if everybody in a society is an informed passionate voter. It’s justified on the idea that government should operate with the consent of the governed

    Well said. And I agree, every lawful voter who wants to vote should be able to do so fairly easily. That’s enough for me to see consent. I don’t want people who … basically do not care, to be shoved into a booth to guess what some proposition means or pick a random name for the Railroad commissioner. To me, it’s fair to keep the test pretty basic, and even to scoff at the notion of making voting … easier than showing an ID. Like it’s not getting a beer, you know. People live and die off this decision.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  156. It just ensures that electoral majorities aren’t allowed to govern.

    Victor (4959fb) — 4/9/2021 @ 10:32 am

    the filibuster ensures mere majorities cannot rule, that senate changes require compromise, every time.

    I’m not sure if it’s a good idea because we have such a trash grade of Senator by and large. It’s like putting monkeys in an SR-71 and complaining when it crashes.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  157. I was discussing the lame duck federal executions with my daughter, and she brought up the the “cortex before 25″ argument. I countered with Greta Thunberg being only sixteen, so why were people treating her seriously? My daughter’s reply was that that’s different — Greta was concerned about her future.

    He may run that readeth it. All this “idealistic” horsesh!t is just a disguise for perceived self-interest.

    nk (1d9030)

  158. Time, I agree that politicians should reasonably address issues of long lines…and so the part of the GA law that seems to exacerbate this I think was wrongheaded. But I don’t think that there is anything preventing people from voting early (including weekends)….or voting by mail. There doesn’t seem to be a great rationale for not letting local officials coordinate the number of local polling places especially for high population density areas…..provided there are sufficient election officials to monitor.

    AJ_Liberty (ec7f74)

  159. “the filibuster, in its current form, does nothing to reduce political polarization”

    But that’s a function of the current political environment…..with moderates being savaged. Let’s take one case in point if the filibuster was abandoned. It is entirely reasonable if not 100% certain that Obamacare would have been repealed in its entirety in 2016-17…..and now reinstated in its entirety this year. We would see the same on immigration laws….gun laws….and every and any additional hot-button issue. Such abrupt shifts in policy is bad on several levels, but particularly will building good faith and cooling emotions. Yes, the filibuster may create grid lock but we the people have to insist on compromise. Right now, ideological bubbles operate against that. The nuclear option will only enflame polarization.

    AJ_Liberty (ec7f74)

  160. @158, I kind of view as GA has a problem they need to fix. They passed a law on that subject that that wasn’t really intended to be a fix, though parts of it will be an improvement.

    Time123 (af99e9)

  161. Dustin,

    Currently it takes a “mere” majority of the House and the Supreme Court, along with a popularly elected president (whose majority is 7 million voters plus) to even get a bill into the Senate. And given that the Senate is malproportioned, a “mere” majority of the Senate itself can represent 40 million or more voters than the other 50, or 49 senators. I don’t see that as “mere”.

    But more fundamentally, I do think mere majorities should get to choose who is president and what the statutes of the country are going to be, subject to limitations about some important issues, like constitutional rights, or impeachments or foreign treaties perhaps. Requiring a supermajority for every single issue, though, is just another way of installing an oligarchy.

    And I would love to see an example of the filibuster, at least in the last few years, forcing legislators into a compromise on some major piece of legislation. I am not obsessive with politics, so maybe I missed one. But I can;t really think of any. If it were going to happen anywhere, it would have been with immigration where, at least once upon a time, there were Republican moderates and Democratic moderates interested. But even then…

    Victor (4959fb)

  162. Congratulations on a fine post, Patterico. It has led to the production of some fine, well-reasoned, discussion. I have enjoyed reading these comments. My thanks to everyone involved.

    felipe (484255)

  163. Off Topic: Excerpt from medical testimony (using the videptape) on how George Floyd died. Jurors took extensive notes. It wasn’t the opioid because there was no slowdown in attempted breaths. The whole trial is televised in Minneapolis.

    https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/pulmonologist-martin-tobin-testimony-derek-chauvin-trial-transcript-floyds-respiratory-rates

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  164. Re: The one big thing maybe they did about long lines was requiring counties to keep a record of lines that lasted more than one hour.

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  165. And given that the Senate is malproportioned, a “mere” majority of the Senate itself can represent 40 million or more voters than the other 50, or 49 senators. I don’t see that as “mere”.

    That’s how the body was designed. Trump and Biden both, and Obama too, are not trying to compromise to get a deal done. Bush was a better president because Texas’s government is similarly ‘unfair’. The benefit is that sudden wild changes are harder to do. If you do not think that’s a good thing, much like Hunter Biden’s teeth enamel, you do not agree with the current situation.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  166. “And I would love to see an example of the filibuster, at least in the last few years, forcing legislators into a compromise on some major piece of legislation”

    It doesn’t work like that. Every Senator knows that they must get to 60 votes to get cloture on anything but judicial nominations or reconciliation bills. This by its nature compels compromise, except for the bills simply intended for show (like the GOP trying to eliminate Obamacare some 50 times). So if you know you have to get to 60, you have to moderate and attract those across the aisle. Usually an actual filibuster would occur because no attempt was made to address the concerns of the minority. Certainly civil rights legislation are controversial examples but prior to this century…..there were always periods where compromise was possible….and legislators were willing to take half a loaf.

    AJ_Liberty (ec7f74)

  167. The fact that the Senate was malproportioned from the beginning doesn’t make it better. I think Madison was right to object, and he did, strenuously. And even if the Framers were ok with some malproportionment, i.e. the biggest state, Virginia, being about 12 times the size of the smallest, that’s not really a good precedent for today, when California is what, 80+ times bigger than Wyoming?

    And for both AJ and Dustin, the biggest argument I hear for the filibuster is that it “promotes compromise and bipartisanship” except, in fact, it doesn’t. You can’t even point to an example. As far as I can tell there is no compromise on HR 1 that would attract a single Republican senator, let alone 10. There’s been no move by any R senators on the infrastructure/investment bill either. The only move on the stimulus bill was to offer 1/3 the size of the final bill and then walk away, and it wasn’t even clear that that offer was going to get ten R senators. Mitch has demonstrated exactly zero interest in compromising on anything at all.

    Right now the concern of the minority is to block the majority. That’s it. Point to me any serious move by the R’s to compromise their position and I might change my mind.

    Filibusters don’t happen because of failures to negotiate. Filibusters don’t even really cause much negotiation. Filibusters just mean that, contrary to the implications of the Constitution, ordinary legislation requires 60 votes. Meaning 41 senators hold the whip hand, and use it.

    By the way, if I was going to pick something that probably should require a supermajority it would be appointing federal judges to lifetime positions. But just because that’s so important to everyone, we give up on the idea of “compromise”, and let majority rule. Funny that.

    And as long as I’m typing – the R’s weren’t serious about eliminating Obamacare? Why didn’t they tell us. It’d saved some stress.

    Victor (4959fb)

  168. The fact that the Senate was malproportioned from the beginning doesn’t make it better.

    remember that thing about how I was taking my personal preferences and acting like they are just universa truth?

    The Senate representing geographic states instead of pure democratic numbers of people forces a tension in the houses. That tension is what forces compromise, slowing down government from severity. This makes government better. It will never seem so in the short term because what I want or what you want just NEEDS to happen. In the long term, the benefits are impossible to ignore though.

    Dustin (4237e0)

  169. The Senate is effectively randomly apportioned, and had more competitive elections because there are so many smaller states where campaigns cost less and because each election is more important because there are fewer Senators and because the rules of the Senate make each Senator important. (you could have a House controlled by its speaker with most members having little input with only 51 members. You;v got to get down to about 14 for numbers alone to make the difference.)

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  170. *about 15. Anything larger tends to form committees.

    Sammy Finkelman (6975b4)

  171. Victor, we must live in alternate universes. The Senate Majority Leader….in coordination with the Senate Whip…will know pretty closely how many votes they have going into a vote on a controversial piece of legislation. That’s their job to know….keep all their team on board and try and attract persuadable votes. If they don’t have 60, then they have three options….pull the bill….push forward and lose by not making cloture…..or stop and horse trade with the persuadable opposition to make the bill more palatable and hopefully get to 60. So, for instance in 2017, there was no obligation on Senate Democrats to offer an alternative to the “skinny repeal” of Obamacare to make it palatable. The obligation was on the sponsors of the bill….the GOP….to attract votes without sacrificing the substance of the legislation. The same here with HR1. What compromises are the DEMs willing to give to attract votes? Well, if they want much of the substance, then they will consider tweaks that might get your Maine Senators, Romney, etc. on board. The reality is that the media and the respective bases punish compromise because there is no quiet place where deals can be made….but this environment is not created by requiring a super-majority because we’ve had decades upon decades of major pieces of legislation that do manage to get through despite requiring a super-majority.

    Major legislation should be bipartisan…so both parties have buy in and some responsibility for its success. That’s why Obamacare was doomed. Requiring a super-majority to move forward on this legislation compels the majority to find ways to attract those in the minority. Sometimes the minority is unwilling to deal….and if the legislation is popular, then the majority will use it to campaign against an obstructionist minority and seek to grow its majority. That’s our system. As I stated upthread…moving to majority votes will swing legislation back and forth….because you are reducing the need to compromise at all (just witness the House).

    AJ_Liberty (ec7f74)

  172. @112 You clearly don’t understand john browns raid on harpers ferry. He captured the armory to pass out guns to the slaves so they could shoot their way to freedom. No one then or now thought this was about protesting the kansas nebraska act. Then as now as samuel johnson said to boswell when asked what he thought of the american revolution going on. “I observe those who scream the loudest about freedom and liberty are the slave holding southerners!” Consevatism then: states rights! to protect slavery. Conservatism now: states rights to control and surpress black voting under the guise of non existent illegal aliens voting.

    asset (71f17c)

  173. It is entirely reasonable if not 100% certain that Obamacare would have been repealed in its entirety in 2016-17…..and now reinstated in its entirety this year. We would see the same on immigration laws….gun laws….and every and any additional hot-button issue. Such abrupt shifts in policy is bad on several levels, but particularly will building good faith and cooling emotions.

    This makes sense. I don’t want to see extremist, knee-jerk legislation by the thinnest of majorities in response to every topic du jour. And, I don’t want to experience whiplash every four to eight years.

    The filibuster ensures that only legislation with broad support gets passed. Of course, this will frustrate progressives who believe that utopia would be attainable if we just got rid of the filibuster, two Senators per state, gerrymandering, etc., and replaced them with a President and Congress that were elected by a national, popular vote.

    It doesn’t take tremendous imagination to realize that, with a filibuster, legislators have to craft legislation that has a chance of winning over some on the other side. Of course, if the proposed bill is just for posturing, then make it as appealing to one’s base as possible.

    I find you to be one the most, if not THE most, reasonable commenters here, A_J Liberty.

    norcal (01e272)

  174. But the additional claim you seem to be making is that there is something biologically peculiar about black people that predisposes them to crime. Or perhaps that there is something about American culture that pushes black people to commit more crimes.

    As for the latter, I’d need more evidence, but even if it were, than that American culture would itself be apparently implicated with systematic racism.

    Victor (4959fb) — 4/9/2021 @ 6:21 am

    I reject the notion that there is something biological that predisposes one group to commit a higher rate of crime than another group.

    Likewise, I oppose the idea that if one group commits a disproportionate share of crime, it is only because American culture pushed them to do it.

    norcal (01e272)

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