Asks Ezra Klein, “Should the votes of the young count more than the votes of the old?”:



If your response to this is that it’s crazy and offensive, that all American adults are equal and so is their vote, you might want to familiarize yourself with the U.S. Senate, where a Wyoming resident’s vote is worth almost 70 times as much as a Californian’s, or the electoral college, where the presidency could be won by a candidate who loses the popular vote 4:1.

All of which is to say, we already reweight voting in this country. But we do it to give residents from small states more power. Does that really make more sense than reweighting by age, education, race, income or some other demographic characteristic?

Update, 3:15 p.m.: Some people seem to think I’m advocating reweighting votes by age. I’m not. I’m pointing out that weighting votes by state, which is what we currently do, doesn’t make any more sense. It was an important political compromise that helped coax concerned states into the union, but a lot of time has passed since then, and now it’s an anachronism that unwisely gives a resident of Montana a more powerful vote than a resident of Michigan. I’m for unweighting votes entirely, and anyone who feels themselves getting angry at the idea of tilting democracy toward the young or the college-educated other group should ask themselves whether they aren’t, also.

[my emphasis]

Yes, Ezra. A lot of time has passed — something like, over a hundred years, even! — but what you call “an anachronism” the founders and framers (some of whom were maybe even as smart as you, and perhaps a handful of whom put almost as much cogitation into how to form a nation around the idea of individual liberty and protecting natural rights as you yourself have in between Georgetown pomegranate martinis and self-congratulatory tugs on your rhetorical junk), thought was a good idea, a way to protect individual states from an overreaching central authority, which they correctly feared would eat away at our freedoms. That idea was weakened, of course, when the Constitution was amended to move the Senate elections to a popular vote — and I suspect your end game here is to posit an extension of that initial populist mistake by laying the ground work for an argument for the abolition of the Electoral College, creating a “truer” form of democracy, and a country run by the voters in urban centers, where the federal government can provide the most concentrated largess in exchange for votes.

Me, I say rather than treat as some sort of outmoded nonsense standing in the way of a benevolent central government’s longing to move us toward a progressive Utopia the bicameral idea used to forge a compromise between the federalists and anti-federalists, we cease pretending, in the courts and elsewhere, that the Ninth and Tenth Amendments don’t exist, and that they don’t exist precisely to protect the states from a voracious central authority, as well as minorities from the whims of the majority.

That is, to protect non-leftists from the statists and their apparatchiks like you, Ezra.

In other words, rather than double down on an idea that leads us away from individual liberty and toward an all-powerful central government that seeks to regulate and control our every move out of a couple of marble-adorned buildings in DC, we revisit the 17th Amendment and move to repeal it. Such an idea is equally as valid as one in which, as you favor, we do away with the Senate itself — because that is in effect what a “unweighing” vote requires — in the process, doing away with state sovereignty, as well.

And then we can all live in a paradise where Barack Obama can, in fact, tell governors like Scott Walker, for instance, how he must run that particular one of Obama’s 57 states. JOY!

Or, here’s David Harsanyi’s idea, which may be even more practical than my own, and one that I can get behind, if we concede that a sort of intellectual poll tax is out of the question:

Klein might want to re-read the Federalist Papers, but nevertheless, it’s an interesting thought to ponder. How about this one: Since he’s so concerned with the consequences of political decisions, why not give proportional weight to the votes of the productive and unproductive. The more you pay in taxes the more your vote counts. This way those who vote to increase the size of government but contribute little to keeping that government afloat can sit on the sidelines? You know, just a thought.

Skin in the game, baby.

Where’s the shared sacrifice?

Asks Ezra Klein, “Should the votes of the young count more than the votes of the old?”


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