Right or Privilege

November 1st, 2005
by Alfonso Ebanks

[private] v3-11-Our Islands It is always about this time every election year that we hear people saying things like: I’m not going to vote because neither party is going to give me anything! Another popular trite expression is: I’d rather not vote than vote for either of them!

In spite of all this negative language, most of us do make the sacrifice and end up casting our ballots. More than ninety percent of us however will vote according to tradition because the way we vote is predetermined at birth it is like something genetic that we inherit from our parents.

Most people take the privilege of voting for granted, they don’t realize that this whole process is not a right, but a privilege.

They must remember that suffrage is a relatively new experience in human social evolution and it can best be defined as a political privilege granted by law and in so being it is subjected to qualification.

These qualifications have been liberalized in some parts the world in the last part of the previous century, but there are still countries that have restrictions towards some of the voting public.

Some of these countries deny the vote to women and there are other nations that often make literacy a qualification for the privilege of voting in a public political election.

The majority of the free countries of the world have only two requirements: you must be a citizen of that particular country and have lived long enough to acquire a minimum voting age.

I believe that in all countries there should be more than just a citizenship and age qualification. These two requirements are an oversimplified approach to a very important political decision that can have a detrimental effect on an entire country and its future.

Because of the consequence of making a bad choice in this process I have come to believe that the privilege of determining a country’s future should only go to qualified persons and not left to individuals that acquired that “right” merely through an accident of birth and the fact that they did not become a statistic of our high infant mortality rate.

If I had to select the qualifications that would enable persons to acquire the privilege of casting a vote, I would not base these requirements on race or color, neither would religion play a role in my decision. I would grant the right to vote to sentient, literate and fairly intelligent people, they would not have to be rocket scientists, but they would have to understand the importance of the process and they would have to possess the ability to make decisions based on reason and logic and not on sentiment.

Most importantly they would have to be taxpayers (and I don’t mean a sales tax payer), because in my opinion people that do not contribute to the wealth of a nation should have no rights when it comes to deciding its future.

Maybe we should make the poll tax a requirement again. Well so much for that, and I know that what I consider to be as a voter’s utopia would probably be considered by others a politician’s nightmare.

Would you let the crew on the back deck of your boat select your captain? Let’s get back to reality and let us all turn out on the Novembers 27 to vote.

Let us not forget the real issues and try hard to refrain from personal attacks on our candidates and remember that a vote left blank is a complete waste of time and an insult to your dignity.

By the way, if your man wins don’t come around later expecting gifts and favors in exchange for having been permitted by the law the privilege of casting your vote. [/private]

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