The Cepia Club Blog

The Cepia Club Blog: The Cepia Club believes individual awareness and activism can lead to a peaceful and prosperous world. This blog contains the pertinent literature, both creative and non-fiction, produced by the Cepiaclub Director and its associates.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Critique of Politics #4: Voting as a Privilege But Power of Consent as the Future of Freedom

Critique of Politics #4: Voting as a Privilege But Power of Consent as the Future of Freedom
By Tim Krenz
December 3, 2018
For: Hometown Gazette

In this fourth part of the critique of politics, we must first dismiss the absurd view that every person has an inalienable, natural right to vote in elections. None can claim the right by any definition other than as human-made and therefore a legally transient, even temporary privilege, when using ballots cast by qualified electors. No right given by nature, and therefore above the laws made by men and women who can revoke them, guarantees the exercise of voting in a democracy, or in a republic, or in any type of government. Partly for this reason, voting itself will not make a better future. Why?

Voting simply comes by way of extended privileges, granted by an authority seeking the approval of those it governs for the actions it takes. Those entities extend a franchise to electors so that it can narrowly define and limit the question of “who gets to choose.” By doing so, the system limits choices by default. On the other hand, the natural right of consent of the governed for its government exists outside of the human-made laws, and the act of giving or withdrawal of that consent remains a pure and inalienable right of citizens. This distinction of natural versus human-made laws and rights looms large in implication for the future of freedom everywhere, and also for continuing the republic of the United States of America, specifically.

Why does voting not exist as a pure and natural right? First, the entity, whether a government or a private body, may set the terms and limits of an election. Doing so, that corporate body (public or private) can by its own laws—and even sometimes by quite arbitrary decisions—decide who can vote, where, when and how. That decision-making body can also enfranchise OR disenfranchise voters by the same means. For example, it can set the following: age limits, property requirements (not only for stockholders in private enterprises), proper permits to vote (“voter identification” laws), race, gender, levels of literacy, criminal record, etc.

All of these limits and disqualifications to vote at one time existed under the Federal constitution within U.S. territory Most of the otherwise limiting restrictions for keeping voters disenfranchised, particularly age, race, gender, and literacy and property requirements, got fixed or redefined by amendments to the Federal constitution or via Federal statutes. (For example, the “Voting Rights Act,.” first passed in 1965, came over 100 years after the ratification of the 15th Amendment supposedly removing voter discrimination related to race, etc.).

Still, why a legal privilege and not a pure, natural right? Statutory codes, ordinances, even constitutions, come by way of political compromises between men and women. Where voting in the U.S. mostly, and correctly, expanded the limits of citizens qualifying as electors who can cast ballots in elections, men and woman can also undo those laws and constitutions. Everything in the United States Constitution (ratified in 1788-89) and all amendments remain temporary and may one day get revised or voted out of existence. We shudder to think of that, but it still remains entirely possible, even if improbable.

Where humans agree to create something, humans can agree to destroy the same. The same logic applies to voting. Having made democratic elections part of the Federal system, as a compromise system of government, the rights of the Constitution made the privilege of voting a norm. Sometimes people take norms for granted, in an act of misplaced complacency about politics. The compromise that created the Constitution may one day compromise the end of itself and of the voting privilege. No natural law or natural right, above a human ability to allow something to replace it, protects the Constitution as a permanent feature of government in the United States. In this sense, as in the Civil War from 1861-1865, only the force of armed force would ultimately determine its fate.

Opposing this stark reality, citizens in the United States have another means to exercise control over those they elect to conduct government over them, a means based on the pure natural right of the consent of the governed. As implied above, a natural right exists above and beyond the ability of human-made law to disqualify, suppress, oppress, or destroy. A natural right survives all attempts at compromise and it exists in perpetual form, not as a privilege but as a fundamental right of human existence.

Natural rights transcend everything. And consent or withdrawal of consent comes as a choice, a duty, a service, and an obligation. This demands more than group action at election time. The right of consent or its withdrawal demands an extremely personal vigilance and a very personal action. It means the oath to defend for all each and everyone's freedom from fear, from want, and for speech and for worship. These freedoms that would not harm others or steal from anyone make up the essence of peace and liberty for the world.

Consent of the governed comes in many ways, not just in voting but it involves voting. In this commitment, the moral consent of the ethically governed stands as the greatest tool, or the best weapon (in a non-violent sense), that can protect the body politic. That body, the whole of a citizenry, needs constant protection from the diseases of power which infect the powerful people who may govern. To prevent compromises from overwhelming the delicate balance between individual liberty and the needs of the community as whole, everyone must make this personal commitment. In this singular and most serious act, people everywhere--every citizen, anywhere—has to defend the high moral of rights for all and the ethics of freedom for all against any enemies who would subvert these.

How to make consent a practical way of change? First, each person individually must make the voting count. Do not perpetuate an evil or a corrupt system, or ill-defined choices within it. Vote on the extreme merit of conscience—for any candidate or cause that makes sense to a person's reason, and for ones that advance their consent for right and against wrong.

Second, protect the system of voting by voting at every opportunity. Never let anything steal a person's voice in the casting of ballots, through ignorance of choices or by apathy of means. Keep the privilege alive by exercising it.

Third, and importantly, without harming others or destroying their property, take every action within the limit of human-made law to call fraud a fraud and then support good with good. Exert the moral force of peace and non-violence in all manners of resisting an evil or a corrupt system. Stay creative.

Fourth, demand better choices, in and outside of elections, by voting with feet, money, and consent, or its withdrawal—at any time and any place—for the public actions of public servants and public persons. Work to create alternatives and then exercise the choice of them.

With enough people doing these things, all of the time, the future of freedom prevails, but only if people make the ultimate commitment of their conscience.