Sunday, March 13, 2005

Liberty, Democracy, and Voting Rights

I wrote recently that
we have come to [the regulatory-welfare] state because public opinion, elite opinion, and the media have combined to undo the great work of the Framers, whose Constitution prevented tyranny by the majority. Unchecked democracy has become the enemy of liberty and, therefore, of material progress. As Michael Munger says, "The real key to freedom is to secure people from tyranny by the majority, or freedom from democracy."

The last best hope for liberty and prosperity lies in the neutralization of public opinion through a renewal of constitutional principles.
A post at the now-defunct Blogger News Network caused me to leave this comment (edited lightly):
Restrict voting to persons aged 30 or older whose adjusted gross income in the preceding year was no less than one standard deviation below the mean for all filers of Form 1040 (or one of its variants). A registrant must be able to pass two tests: (1) a standardized literacy test at a level of comprehension equivalent to that of the average graduate of a suburban high school in the Midwest, circa 1955; and (2) a test of constitutional literacy, consisting of 25 multiple-choice questions on such topics as the functions of the three branches of the federal government, the rights reserved to States and people, and enumerated powers.

In other words, voters ought to have a real stake in the outcome, a modicum of intelligence, and an understanding of the proper role of government. Our drift away from those three principles that has brought us to the point where democracy -- as it's practiced in the United States -- is the enemy of liberty.