Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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October 20, 2008
needed: national remedial civics lessons

(one topic among many)

"voting is a right" = 508     kiloGhits today

"voting is a privilege" = 19.7 today

Which is it?
(in the USA)

sample argument in favor of latter position:
For a democracy to be properly empowered, each of the voters should be educated (at least knowledgeable) property-owners and tax-paying citizens. It should be considered inappropriate for people to vote when they contributed nothing to society. Voting is a privilege.
from ltte, Tuscaloosa News, 3 wks ago

Roger     Clegg's support of same general view summarized from 2001      here, and 2 weeks ago here.

Which is it?

Is it both?

Quotes in support of both sides of the question presented, here, via

Memories of junior high school classroom debate, here.

Which is it?

US Constitutional analysis here and here.

Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. in 2004:
Despite the relentless urging to exercise our "right to vote" in recent weeks, that "right" is a myth. What we have is a privilege, granted or withheld at the discretion of our state and local governments.

Which is it?

Substantive (possibly better?) questions: Which should it be? And for whom? Under what circumstances?

(& what embedded assumptions and competing subdefinitions are at work? e.g., By "right" do we mean "property"? Do we mean "contract"? Something else? If so, what?)

Meta question: How many debate the question without the self-conscious awareness that they even are debating the question?

Procedural questions: How open, blunt and honest should the debate be? Who benefits, and how, from playing coy about it, with others and ourselves?

[update 10/30/08:

The above post's glaring omission is consideration of the possibility that in today's USA a vote is (or ought to be) neither a right nor a privilege.

For example, it could be a duty. Or a crime. Or a commodity.]