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You buys your ticket and you takes your chances

Yesterday, the Boston Herald published a column in favor of a plan to grant the vote to non-citizens. It's a very limited proposal -- only those here legally would be given the franchise, and only in city elections -- but it's still a step in the wrong direction.

It's a compelling argument. These resident aliens are playing by the rules, came here legally, and pay their taxes and contribute to the society. Why shouldn't they get some say? As the columnist says, isn't this a violation of the "no taxation without representation?"

Yeah, in a sense it is, but there's a bigger issue here.

The right to vote is part and parcel with citizenship now, and I think it ought to stay that way. Part of the process of becoming a citizen is renouncing one's ties to one's mother country and investing in your new country's future -- investing both your own life and that of your descendants. You are committing yourself, completely and irrevocably, to the future of your new nation. At that point -- and only at that point -- should you be given a voice in how that future unfolds.

When a non-citizen is given a vote, they can cast that vote with impunity, safe in the knowledge that they are not bound to live with the consequences of their votes. If things get too bad, they can bail out and return to the land of their birth, leaving the poor bastards shackled with citizenship to pick up the pieces.

The author's "unfairness" argument does have some merits, but I think he is grasping for the wrong solution. Yes, the time, energy, and money involved in becoming an American citizen is very high. But the answer is not to bypass some parts of it, but rather to look at what makes that process so costly -- and see if there are places where we can streamline it.

I have tremendous respect for those who have become naturalized American citizens. They know precisely the cost of that which I have taken for granted all my life, and as such have a greater appreciation for it than I do. Further, considering how many aliens come here illegally, and how easy it is, it takes a great strength of character to "do it right," as the people the columnist wishes to reward with the vote.

I can sympathize with him, and understand his instinctive move towards rewarding those playing by the rules. But I can't help but conclude that it's the wrong cure for the problem.


Comments (15)

I know 16 year old kids who... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

I know 16 year old kids who pay taxes and are US citizens. The 16 year olds are not allowed to vote. Why not? They pay taxes and are US citizens......

I think it is just fine, as... (Below threshold)
kim:

I think it is just fine, as long as they are white, male, and landowning.
==========================

I think it is just fine,... (Below threshold)
mantis:

I think it is just fine, as long as they are white, male, and landowning.

Kickin' it old school, eh kim?

Hey, go tell us if you like... (Below threshold)
kim:

Hey, go tell us if you like Richardson on the Governors of Border States thread.
===============================

I don't think foreigners vi... (Below threshold)
Publicus:

I don't think foreigners visiting our country should be waterboarded without reasonable cause, but I don't think they should get to vote either. Human rights is for everyone. Voting is for citizens.

This whole issue is so easi... (Below threshold)
horse:

This whole issue is so easily shown to be stupid. By their liberal rational all the people who work in NYC and pay their huge taxes should be able to vote in city elections, even if they live in NJ, CT or upstate NY. Or pick one of thousands of other examples.

Also, this is what you will get with amnesty/guest worker program politics. Leftists will always be able to show something "isn't fair." The only answer is, so what if its not fair, they can go back home if they don't like it. Just like people working in NYC but commuting from NJ. Don't like NYC taxes without a vote, don't work there.

I agree with your point, bu... (Below threshold)
Rance:

I agree with your point, but part of your argument doesn't make it.

You say "When a non-citizen is given a vote, they can cast that vote with impunity, safe in the knowledge that they are not bound to live with the consequences of their votes. If things get too bad, they can bail out and return to the land of their birth, leaving the poor bastards shackled with citizenship to pick up the pieces."

Since the voting in question is on city issues, anyone in the city can cast a vote and then escape the consequences of their votes by move to the 'burbs or another town. That's on of the reasons a lot of cities are in trouble today, people voted to run the cities on the cheap, and when services broke down, they fled.

I have a property tax payer... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

I have a property tax payer in the state of Vermont for 26 years- I pay far more than the average homeowner - and I can't vote there.


That's obscene.

And I am a US citizen.

I voted when I was in colle... (Below threshold)

I voted when I was in college and felt that it was simply wrong for me to vote on city issues despite the fact that I lived there and could have vote on them.

I voted for the state and national offices and left the rest blank.

It just seemed very wrong for me, as a temporary resident, to vote on something like how many people would be required to be on garbage truck crews. (That was actually on that ballot more than 20 years ago.)

Voting is coersive toward other citizens. It decides their future. If someone hasn't made a commitment and thrown in with their fellow citizens then it's not fair.

Where do you vote, drjohn? ... (Below threshold)

Where do you vote, drjohn? Will you give that up?

Ehh. I'm undecided on this ... (Below threshold)
89:

Ehh. I'm undecided on this one. Green-card holding aliens can enlist in the US Army (as a private or other non-commisioned member), but they can't be officers without citizenship. Several other countries have participation in local elections for non-citizens too. I'd say both ways are fine, if not for the tendency of the US to take things to extremes. I see this as a slippery slope to giving voting rights to illegal aliens too - so I'd have to say "no". If it was a country without a Lonney-Tunes electoral system and level of public discourse, I'd say "yeah maybe".

Green-card holding alien... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

Green-card holding aliens can enlist in the US Army (as a private or other non-commisioned member), but they can't be officers without citizenship.

All to easy to infiltrate high levels. But I'm sure Congress wouldn't mind giving equal opportunity to high ranking military position to Iranians applying for the job.

And anyway, military service accelerates your eligibility for citizenship.

I'm not a citizen of Canada... (Below threshold)

I'm not a citizen of Canada... can I vote in their elections?

I'm not a citizen of Great Britain... can I vote in their elections?

I'm not a citizen of France... can I vote in their elections?

I'm not a citizen of Iraq... can I vote in their elections?

See a pattern here?

Definitely a move in the wr... (Below threshold)

Definitely a move in the wrong direction.

Where do you vote, drjoh... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Where do you vote, drjohn? Will you give that up?

Posted by: Synova at May 8, 2007 04:24 PM


In CT.

Give it up?

Not unless the illegals vote away my rights.




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