David Marion’s column: Voting rules and rational self-government | Chroniclers

There is ample evidence that the Constitution was intended to promote informed deliberation and decision-making aimed at advancing the “common good”. The goal was to establish a consent-based government that would not quickly sink into anarchy or give rise to tyranny, the usual history of democracies. Competent self-government requires the kind of reasoned deliberation and voting that sets the stage for prudential decision-making and policy-making.

Who, after all, wants incompetent, ill-informed or ad hoc governance, deliberations, votes or decision-making? While perfectly rational decision-making will never be accessible to fallible beings, it is possible to structure behavior in a way that promotes more, rather than less, competence when it comes to nurturing a civic order that enriches society. life of its members.

Take, for example, the voting rules. If a close approximation of competent self-governance is our collective goal, then a one-year residency requirement to vote in local and national elections deserves serious consideration – it takes time to become familiar with the challenges and opportunities. that contextualize decision-making at all levels of government. While we should never forget the abuse of literacy tests before the civil rights movement, we should not allow historic wrongdoing to make us abandon the cause of rational self-government.

In fact, the voting rules are inherently restrictive – and for good reason. The reasoning behind these rules mirrors the reasoning behind the drafters’ decision to create a constitutional republic rather than pure democracy. They believed that government legitimacy is the product of popular consent, but of the consent of people who understand what it takes to have a government up to the task of protecting fundamental rights and freedoms or the conditions that allow flourishing. human.

Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera