The right to vote is a freedom afforded by democratic rule, and has seen many civil conflicts fought to establish or maintain its integrity. While different social demographics have historically been denied this right on the grounds of race or sex at some time or another, the contemporary idea of democracy is inclusive of all individual factions and their belief systems, and seeks to discriminate against no single group or social circumstance. However, if we accept that the idea of voting is a privilege afforded by democracy, then there is an argument to ensure that citizens have earned and appreciate this right.
Balancing Democracy With the Well Being of the Country
While it is undoubtedly undemocratic and abhorrent to discriminate against voters on the generic grounds of race or sex, this is because it degenerates a specific social group without genuine purpose or foundation. However, this does not necessarily mean that every individual should automatically be afforded the right to vote, especially where they have chosen to segregate themselves from general society or hold divisive views that oppose the principles of democratic rule.
A similar logic applies to those who have a minimal interest in or knowledge of politics, who although retain the right not to vote are often pressurized by social expectation to do so. In this instance, individuals may vote without a broad or appreciable understanding of the prevalent social issues, which means that their input is misdirected and that the chosen government of the US may not be a reflection of their true support. Put simply, the drive to ensure that citizens vote could prove to be detrimental to the integrity of the final result.
Any of these circumstances can deter the course of democracy, and create a situation where the elected government regime is either unrepresentative or reflects the interests of those opposed to democracy. What the US and other democratic nations therefore need to assess is whether allowing everyone the right to vote is in the interests of society as a whole, and whether creating stipulations for eligibility could ever be enforced in a liberal rule. What must be elevated above all else is the integrity of the election process, and the importance of selecting a desired government.
A Privilege of Liberal Rule
So, what can be done to ensure a fair election process that reflects the desires of knowledgeable and enthusiastic voters? Firstly, the continued drive to encourage citizens to vote could be somewhat curtailed, as it unfortunately leads to decisions that are ultimately meaningless but still have a significant influence on the outcome of a specific election. Surely, it is better that the nation records a low voting turn out that secures a result of worth and integrity, rather than seeing a high proportion of votes that include many based on ignorance or supposition.
Some would disagree, but though individuals go to great length to support the right to vote, little is done to enforce the rights of those who choose not to. In many ways, these individuals are making a considered decision to protect the interests of the country that they live in, by refraining from participating in an event of which they have no knowledge or interest. However, the refusal to vote is often perceived wrongly as an act of negligence, and the ultimate insult to those who risked their own liberty to secure an equality amongst voters.
In terms of those who wish to vote but carry a deep resentment of democratic values, the issue is far more complex. With the number of hate groups on the rise in the US, and particular tension still prevalent between the representatives of Christianity and the faith of Islam, there is clear evidence of extremism or intolerance being in existence throughout society. Despite the fact that these factions and their representatives are inherently opposed to democratic freedom and its ideals of multiculturalism and choice, they are allowed to take advantage of its privileges and cast their votes against a system that they ultimately seek to destroy.
Maintaining an Undiluted Democracy
Unfortunately, the nature of democracy is entirely opposed to any form of repression or authoritarian rule. This means that it is almost impossible for it to make a stand against groups that infringe its principles without them becoming significantly diluted, and this would make any rebuttal of undemocratic views far more damaging to liberal rule than the opinions themselves. The debasement of democracy cannot be allowed at any cost, which makes it almost impossible to enforce restrictions on the eligibility of the right to vote.
In this case, the US government must strive to improve the levels knowledge and interest towards politics within society, to at least maximize the quantity, quality and integrity of the votes that they receive in an election. This can be achieved through a focus on teaching more politically orientated classes at High School, with a view to capitalizing on the curiosity of young minds and inspiring an interest in politics and its related social issues. Indeed, education is key, as it is through responsibly educating children that generational small mindedness can be eradicated and prejudice can be consigned as a thing of the past.