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.
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.
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.