Want to Vote? Pass the History Test First



Want to Vote? Pass the History Test

There was a book written some years back called , "The Celestine Prophesy" one filled with metaphysical nonsense woven into a story line. I did garner some interesting morsels of spirituality though, one that suggests that there is no such thing as "coincidence" that events that occur by happenstance or unexpected surprise are part of the Universe's plan. Say you are traveling out of state and you round a corner and there is a friend or neighbor right there. The book counseled that this was not a chance encounter, you were not only meant to meet this way, but that they had a "message" for you. Even a chance encounter in the grocery store was to be taken as an opportunity to receive this message. If you stopped and received this message, you would soon find the these "chance" encounters would increase.


It doesn't cost a cent to linger for 30 seconds or even a full minute on these occasions, so I follow up every time, and found that yes, they do continue to surprise me. Always fully immersed in politics (and Facebook posts on the subject) I posted this morning about the frustration (shared by many) that too many uneducated, uninformed, even illiterate souls had the same rights to vote as those who took the time to read, watch and listen, consider the positions the candidates held, and then cast a ballot based on an informed decision. A friend's father suggested that only intelligent people should be allowed to vote. I thought about this and being a school psychologist trained in the administration of intelligence tests (aka IQ Tests) thought this might be a way of determining who had the right to vote. Do we allow individuals with Down Syndrome with IQ's hovering in the 40's and 50's to vote? Should we? How about people with "mild intellectual disabilities" folks with IQ's in the 50-80 range? Many could not process a high school text book or a news magazine or newspaper. If I HAD to make a hard choice, I guess I would have to say "low average to above" IQ's 85 and above.


Let me make myself PERFECTLY CLEAR. I am not advocating this at all. But I did come up with an idea this morning about requiring a test, a history test before opening the curtain to the ballot box. The test would cover basic facts about the government, how it is set up (thee branches) how many Senators, and Congressional Representatives, you know the basic stuff. My argument was that if you were required to pass a drivers test on the basic rules of the road (stop lights, yellow lines, yield signs) the highways would be much safer, why not require voters to understand the rules of the government? I threw this out there as much to stimulate a discussion as advocating for the testing requirement.


I then retired to the reading room to take care of my daily duties and picked up my November 7, 2016 The New Yorker (you can tell it's been in my bathroom for a while), and turned to the next story entitled "None of the Above- The case against democracy." David Estlund a political philosopher at Brown talked about democracy and its failings and balancing fairness with good decision making. Sometimes it might be better to, "...try a system that's a little less fair but makes good decisions a little more often." He coined the term, "Epistocracy" meaning government by the knowledgeable.


This seemed to make sense on the surface, though he reminded readers of where this lead; disenfranchising historically disadvantaged groups such as African Americans or women, though he conceived of a method of providing the greater weighting for their votes. What surprised me most about opening my magazine to this very page, this very article within minutes of my post...well that seems to have been one of those "chance encounters" I spoke of.


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