Should Stupid People Be Allowed to Vote…?

Posted: June 26, 2016 in (All Things) CULTURE, (Politics) CURRENT AFFAIRS
Tags: , , , , ,

brexit-churchhillquote

This actually isn’t a facetious question.
And it isn’t meant to be condescending to anyone. It is actually a serious consideration in the context of how potent or effective a democracy can be if stupid people control too much of the vote. And actually, I do have a partial solution.

And this isn’t just a case of bashing Brexit voters – nor is it even a comment on the pros and cons of Brexit versus Remain. Really, it’s more a point that if too big a percentage of the voting population is uneducated (on the subject at hand) or just plain stupid then it is utter insanity to give them a vote on one of the most important political issues in decades.

Whether you’re pro or anti EU, this vote result is going to change the course of Britain’s future, determine the prospects for the younger generations (who overwhelmingly voted Remain), lead to a possible destabilization of the European Union and possibly have a big effect on the course of Western civilization.

And yet here we had a decision of that magnitude being handed over to the whims of everyone, including the local thug and the Village Idiot.

And I don’t just mean the xenophobes and racists who took both the campaign and now the Brexit result as legitimisation of their views and carte blanche to begin abusing Polish people and Muslims, nor just the so-called ‘Little Englanders’ who mistrust the world and want a return to fish and chips and the 1950s.

It is reported that on the day AFTER the referendum vote, the most popular Google search term in the UK was ‘WHAT IS THE EU?’ That was the day AFTER the vote. If it had been the day before the vote, I would still despair – but the fact that so many people were typing that question into Google the day AFTER the vote definitively demonstrates that stupid people shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

It gets worse. The day of the Brexit, news outlets were full of people panicking at the outcome: people who voted LEAVE but now regretted it. There was a whole section of voters, it emerges, who voted LEAVE as some kind of misplaced ‘protest vote’ against the Establishment… but didn’t think Brexit would actually win. It seems to have been the case of enough people that it picked up its own hashtag, #Bregret. It’s these guys – people who wanted to be edgy and anti-establishment at precisely the wrong moment, even though this was a vote that could drastically alter the course of society, politics, international relations, stability, etc – who are more stupid than anyone. At least the proper Brexiteers were sincere.

 
brexit-funnymeme
 

In one sense, I can understand why both sides of the Referendum debates chose to dumb down their arguments so much and resort to scaremongering and trying to manipulate people as if they were dumb children – because so many of their target audience ARE like children and they can be very easily manipulated on just a few key issues. One side won this way – but it could’ve just as easily been the other.

So again, should stupid people be allowed to vote?

Don’t get this wrong: democracy should always prevail, and I don’t propose to deny anyone their democratic right to vote. What I advocate is a screening process in the form of a test.

In other words, everyone has to qualify to register their vote by passing some form of intelligence test. And it doesn’t need to be an IQ test or anything like that, but rather a test more directly significant to the vote itself. So in this specific instance of the EU Referendum, people would’ve had to take a short written test of, let’s say, 10 – 20 questions. Not difficult questions necessarily, just fairly basic stuff (like ‘WHAT IS THE EU?’, for example). Anyone who answers 50% correctly or higher qualifies to vote – anyone who doesn’t is denied the right in that instance.

They wouldn’t permanently be denied the right of course; and they could even be allowed to go away for a few hours, do some quick studying, and then come back and *pass* the same test and be allowed to vote.

This way, the ignorant, the ill-educated or the terminally stupid, can’t be allowed to impose their will on the rest of the country or set the parameters for entire generations of people.

With a particularly tricky election coming up in the United States in a few months too, I would think this suggestion would be especially useful. Also, for the record, when I say ‘ill-educated’, I don’t mean formal education – I simply mean people who don’t have any or enough basic knowledge or understanding of the issues they’re expecting to vote on. This isn’t a class thing; most of the most intelligent and savvy people I’m aware of are not people with degrees or significant formal education.

And I’m not for a moment suggesting that people should be dissuaded from voting based on their outlooks either: I maintain that racists, even the Far Right, have a democratic right to vote. So long as they can demonstrate even just a basic level of understanding or knowledge of significant facts.

________________

Two nights after the vote, I was listening to Cristo Foufas’s call-in show on LBC, in which he asked Leave voters to call in and explain what made them vote against EU membership. Aside from all the confused, barely literate calls that ensued, as well as UKIP-brainwashed folk over-fed on slogans and not enough information, no one was able to offer a sensible reason for why they voted for a Brexit.

In a FOUR-HOUR show, not one person could provide a reason that the presenter wasn’t able to debunk, factually disprove or otherwise expose as nonsense. The closest we got was someone complaining about EU regulations about the height of ladders (which he eventually admitted was actually probably a good idea for safety reasons). Another didn’t even know that we elect MEPs.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t actually legitimate and intelligent reasons for voting out of the EU (because there are) – but instead I’ve heard an endless stream of people talking about immigration, telling anyone brown-skinned or Polish-looking to ‘go home’, and some very overdone ‘Independence Day’ rhetoric that ended up encouraging over-zealous people to go out into public places and celebrate victory by abusing foreigners.

 
brexit-racism
 

Which is not to tar everyone with the same brush – I’ve no doubt that very intelligent people voted Leave for very logical reasons, while lots of Remain voters might’ve voted without much understanding too.

But the point stands – a democracy isn’t helped by the participation of people who have no idea what they’re voting for or against and who have no understanding of any of the issues.

And an intelligence test – as proposed above – would help screen them out: and therefore protect the integrity of the democratic process. This way also, all kinds of false propaganda can also be screened out of the actual final process – and even if someone is subject to that propaganda, they would only get to vote if they *also* displayed some basic, requisite knowledge of the facts as well.

If 16 and 17 year olds (including very intelligent young people) aren’t allowed to get a vote, then why should stupid people get one…?

You might think I’m being facetious, but this isn’t satire. Nor is it a protest against Brexit or a pro-EU statement. It’s just simple clarification that we live in a country of too many dumbed down, unintelligent people who don’t know enough to justify being able to influence the course of history.

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Comments
  1. Mark says:

    Of all votes etc, this Ref. might become the one most indicative of your reflection. Believe – almost certainly – we’ve ‘been well and truly had’. Like ‘in the manifesto’ and puff-all gone, post-election.

    As far as informed decisions go? Two takes: our mostly fault/s -vs- intricate and intense deception. Media-control. Without scuffing p.responsibility, the later, ever-shocks me at the extent of its powers.

    The ones that ‘get me’ are the smart, educated who watch Question Time but a ‘little above this level of insight’. Got educated. Intellectual and confident at that. At least those not pretending to know-so and care, bit more honest. As for the clever dix? This lot, are most-bonkers. Because they still refuse to countenance the simplest of conspiracies. Holding on for all their might – “I… Am right”. Got a tweet just now, proclaiming we get what we believe for by wishful thinking. “And this will win the day”..? There’s that. Magic. “If we ‘believe’ elections etc are by the genuine for the…” All be/well.

    If only we are prepared to engage in disagreement, whatever is more true, most-likely will arise.

    Having gone through post traditional-evengelical Christian cultural ways, re-developing some degree of beliefs etc – I learnt to be wrong. Plus a messy-made life. But back to this last most-churching time; part-arranged and sat in lots of – actual and formal – debates, with those asking from outside-church and on the edges-in. Gabbing about all sorts of nitty gritty. This and further wanderings into Anarchy and here and there – finally/reluctantly waking to truths in plain sight but hidden – really helps. To be more open with conviction – re-shaped. To ‘be wrong’, more likely get-right.

    What’s top-draw about this article, is it ‘asks’ a lot. Not box-able. What it says to me, is we need more/better/questions. Find the security to ‘disagree’, as Scott Peck/Different Drum wrote, ‘gracefully’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ‘Learning to be wrong’ is a particularly good point too. I’m encountering way too much dogma; where the idea of doubt or changing your mind on something is attacked or condemned as either hypocrisy or betrayal.
      Or simply walking a middle path and trying to keep one’s thoughts open and responsive to circumstances, rather than over-committing to one side or the other – even this is frequently seen as a negative; when in fact I am more likely to trust someone who is, as you say, ‘open with conviction’ or willing to be wrong, than to trust someone who thinks they’re absolutely right and everyone else is blind.

      Like

  2. Completely disagree. Qualifying for voting is a sure fire way to slide into a fascist/authoritarian state. Ever heard of a little thing called poll tax? Millions of voters wiped off the voting register cos they couldn’t afford the tax, many of whom only just regained their vote in Scotland after an amenesty prior to the Scottish Referendum. You might be suggesting it need only be on a vote by vote basis but how easy would it be to make it permanent from there.

    The problem with this EURef isn’t just that the electorate were largely ill-informed or even uninformed, it was that we were quite deliberately rushed into it and given only 4 full months in which to debate it. Before last years general election the tories were promising an EURef before the end of 2017 but when they unexpectedly gained control of parliament they then rushed into it, not just the vote but the negotiations with the EU too. We should have been asking why the rush and demanding more time to debate. Just compare this with the Sottish Independence Referendum, we had years to debate the pros and cons which resulted in an electorate that understood exactly what they were voting for. They were given a clear plan of action by both sides of what the result of the vote will mean for them and their country.

    I do agree however that it is bad for democracy to have an uninformed electorate but instead of trying to sort the wheat from the chaff we should be asking ourselves “why is the electorate in this state”. The answer is that they have been systematically dumbed down and distracted which allows the political system to carry on as they please, aided by the mainstream media. It’s not a change to the electoral system that we need now, although we do perhaps need proportional represention, it is a change to the political system itself which gives far too much power to those we elect. We have become less and less involved after we place that x on a ballot paper. The leave campaign repeated throughout the debate, like a mantra, that we need to take back control. Well they are right. We the people need to take back control from those that are supposed to represent us but instead rule over us not in Europe but in the UK.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Trinkats Jewelry; no worries, I wasn’t really expecting you to agree with this. And I know a post like this is destined to go down like a lead balloon anyway. I’m mostly just playing devil’s advocate – and somewhat despairing at the mental-level of so much of society.
      It’s good to hear someone say, however, that it’s those here in the UK and not necessarily in Europe who we need to worry about – because there’s hardly anyone in ‘alternative media’ who will admit that our own national establishments are just as big a problem – and probably *more* a problem – than what goes on in Brussels.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. M Semet says:

    This issue I have here is this: intelligent people are just as capable (and in some cases, even more so) of fucking shit up than stupid people. Who tanked the world economy in 2008? Who planned all the imperialist wars that have destroyed Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. etc. ? The psychologists who created the torture program for the CIA are hardly stupid. Some of the shittiest people in the world are extremely intelligent.

    Look, I don’t like stupid people. I get your frustration. But if you look at history, if you look at the facts, you will see that intelligence doesn’t mean better outcomes. Hillary Clinton is not stupid at all, and there is no way I would ever have her make any decision that would affect my life if I can help it. Yes, stupidity can hurt others, but don;t forget it’s just one of many dangers we have to navigate in the landscape of human relations. Donald Trump isn;t stupid either. Plenty of cowardly people of high intelligence will vote for the status quo, simply because they are too chicken shit to risk any failure or disappointment.

    I get it, knowing the issues are important. But what happens when someone knows the issues, but votes purposely to enrich themselves and inflict harm on others? This happens all the time. It could be argues that these people are actually doing more harm than the ones who are voting and have no idea what they are doing (though of course that’s harmful too).

    This isn;t a defense of stupidity, or an attack on intelligence. Though intelligence and knowledge is important, it is far from sufficient. intelligence without backbone and guts is worse than useless–i’ve seen stupid people with gumption achieve more good than smart people with no spine or moral compass.

    Stupid people are here to stay, like it or not. I’m sure they feel the same way about smart people (lol).

    Liked by 5 people

  4. My birth country (Norway) voted twice not to join the EU. Does this make Norwegians doubly stupid because they ignored the diktats of their intelligent betters?

    Your thinking smacks of eugenics and is typical of a new wave of poisoned logic. “You are stupid, because I’m more clever than you! After all, I have a degree in sociology, whereas you failed your 11 plus!”

    A democratic vote was held to stay/leave the EU. The exiters won. If the positions had been reversed do you think the remainers would have put up with all of this nonsense?

    I mean, come on, how can anyone take your argument seriously? You’re the guy who reads comic books and watches sci fi stuff! That is such a juvenile thing to do and, using your logic, stupid 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill, I apologise if you’re offended – as I know this post is a little contentious.
      Firstly, it wasn’t a comment on Norway – but specifically on some of what appears to have happened in this British vote. I don’t know where ‘eugenics’ comes into it; and I specifically said it had nothing to do with formal education, but was about awareness of basic facts.
      Can you really say there isn’t a problem when people are typing ‘What is the EU?’ into Google the day after a Referendum on EU membership?
      I can tell you’re emotional and wound-up about this; so I apologise for any offense.
      Also, I don’t see what liking comic books and sci-fi has to do with anything.

      Like

      • No, I’m not being emotional about this, so please don’t try and make it sound like I’m a hysterical maiden aunt!

        Like you I was bending the facts to suit my own truth. In this referendum everyone has been guilty of that, so stop being selective and patronizing.

        I’m sick to death of being called a “little Englander” or, the favourite one hurled at me by left wing intellectuals, “a racist” simply because I do not want to be ruled by. an unelected and unaccountable elite (TTIP springs to mind as a sly example of Brussels ignoring its citizens).

        In any democracy you will always have stupid people, on both sides. They cancel themselves out. The way Britain is heading, led by a certain vociferous and nastily virulent section of society, democracy will be replaced by mob rule!

        Oh, and by the way, I’m an immigrant myself. When I pointed this out recently I was (seriously) informed “you’re white though!” Who is the racist?

        An osession with comic books could indicate mental and emotional immaturity and therefore be viewed as stupid. Not by me of course 🐸

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bill, again I apologise for any offense caused. In actual fact, I wasn’t calling Leave voters stupid – I was specifically talking about (1) racists, (2) people who had to Google ‘What is the EU?’ and (3) young people who voted Leave as a misguided ‘protest’ when they actually wanted to Remain.
        Surely you can agree that all three of the above qualify as ‘stupid’. As far as I can tell, you don’t sit in any of those categories – therefore I wasn’t talking about people like you.

        Like

  5. Ivan K. says:

    BBB,

    I find it funny to see the extent to which you have to apologise and explain yourself here – after reading a discussion where most posters think (quote): “We are nation of idiots.” (1)

    By the way, the Churchill quote with which the article starts is a misattribution. (2)

    Your suggestion for a test is basically good, I think. I’ve come across a seemingly better one: just solve a puzzle, a simple puzzle of the type “prove that you’re human.” Each voter would be given a randomly chosen such puzzle.
    The idea is, rather than to select for intelligence, or knowledge, is to select for, and stimulate, sobriety.
    A problem with tests of more complex kinds is who’ll control their composition and assessment (3).

    (1) http://notthetalk.com/discussion/all/38170
    (2) https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Winston_Churchill#Misattributed
    (3) http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=1B3A2A3B1C3FF4FDE2538BC691985E58

    Like

    • Thanks Ivan K. Sorry for the misattribution.
      Actually I’ve gotten used to apologising – I’ve had to apologise so much just for daring to say any vaguely positive things about the EU (even though I’m not necessarily pro-EU).
      Yes, your idea would probably be less controversial or offensive, and probably less dangerous – though, thinking about it, it wouldn’t help demonstrate whether or not the voter understands the thing he/she is about to vote on. But you’re right – there would be a problem of who is controlling the assessment.
      Thanks for the links too.

      Like

  6. Eli says:

    Wow, I can’t believe how rude and defensive people get when they disagree. And at that one guy saying people who read comic books are stupid… real insight there, you honestly look like a fool. anyways, just wanted to tell the author i agree with many of your points and keep pushing the boundaries of what society is comfortable talking about.

    Like

  7. dananos says:

    I totally agree with this idea. Obviously the test must be simple, factually based, Yes / No question(s). i.e. Is USA part of the EU?, Anyone who says yes, gets disqualified from the vote. A subjective answer would be impractical and less democratic.

    I have to admit also voting in previous referendums (not brexit) without fully understanding what I was voting for or against, and I felt that my feeling of duty towards the democratic process would be counteracting somebody with a real opinion in the matter.

    Obviously this works both ways, and plenty of remain voters would have also been disqualified, but I do believe that democracy should ignore the answers of people who do not understand the question.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Marcos Reynolds says:

    The problem is that you can never tell who’s really stupid or are just faking it.

    Like

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