Wisconsin’s Republicans want to require a state-issued photo ID to vote in order to stop rampant voter fraud. Democrats oppose the measure, claiming that tens of thousands of voters would be disenfranchised – all Democrats, of course. Both positions are overblown, and neither can claim to be driven by noble principle with a straight face.
When all the partisan spinning, posing, and posturing are done, here’s the deal: Republicans don’t want elections decided by Mexicans, and Democrats don’t want any restriction on their ability to fabricate vote counts. There’s your moment of clarity. If either party was truly interested in expanding voter empowerment, they would drop the rules put in place to stifle independent candidates and third parties.
Republicans are more than a little paranoid on this whole Mexican thing; millions of Mexican nationals are not pouring across the border hoping to work their way up to Wisconsin in time to vote against Paul Ryan in the next primary; they just want jobs in Arizona and Texas. And felons and FIBS are not the reason that Gwen Moore and Tammy Baldwin have lifetime tenure in Congress; we could require a DNA match and carbon dating at the polls and it would not change the margins of victory that gerrymandering has engineered for them.
Democrats are even more disingenuous; the No-Chad-Left-Behind crowd is having kittens over voter ID while it is hell-bent on disenfranchising every single worker in the country by eliminating secret ballot union elections. Is there really an oppressed “community” who do not drive, fly, work, buy cigarettes, cash checks, fish, hunt, buy liquor, use credit cards, rent apartments, take out loans, get married, go to the library, or request a public record – all of which require a State-issued photo ID – but do vote religiously? Hard to cram all that on a T-shirt and still have room for a rainbow.
Libertarians can come at the voter ID issue from either direction, but is frankly hard to get all indignant about something we are happy to do to get our hockey tickets at the Will-Call box. On one hand, we reflexively oppose any form of “human license” required by the capital “S” State; on the other hand, we revere the Constitution and take the rights and responsibilities of citizenship quite seriously. The Supreme Court ruled decisively in 2008 that state voter ID laws are constitutional (national REAL ID is a whole different subject), so it really comes down to a pragmatic question: how much additional hassle should we impose to discourage and prevent vote tampering?
Here’s what I think: in a Constitutional democracy, voting is sacrosanct. The United States of America was founded on the principle of self-sovereignty, where the authority to act is delegated to government from fully empowered citizens, not the other way around. Choosing the people who will hold temporary stewardship of those delegated powers is the most solemn obligation we have as citizens of our nation. It is not unreasonable to insist that only eligible citizens participate in our only civic sacrament.
Surely the danger posed to society from vote tampering is far greater than that posed by an underage puff on a Camel. Acts of voter fraud are certain to occur in each election cycle, while acts of terrorism are ridiculously improbable; and yet the government makes me show it a state-issued photo ID, a travel voucher, and my unit before I can fly on plane that does not belong to them.
Voter ID is not an undue hardship and the only class of people who will be disenfranchised when it is enacted is vote-riggers. They will have to move back to Illinois, and we will take the businesses they are taxing out of their state. Good trade.
“Moment Of Clarity” is a weekly commentary by Libertarian writer and speaker Tim Nerenz, Ph.D. Visit Tim’s website www.timnerenz.com to find your moment and order his new book, “Tooth Fairy Government.”