The founding fathers believed that a representative democracy could only flourish if the voters had a vested interest in the long term health of the country. It is often the case that the long and short term interests are opposite one another. Some men are willing to delay gratification in order to enhance long term benefits, while others seek instant gratification at the expense of long term health. Our founding fathers understood that allowing everyone to vote was a recipe for disaster. Too many voters would opt for instant gratification regardless of the longer term costs. It was almost self evident that any system embracing one man one vote was doomed to fail.
The fathers wanted to insure that only voters with a long term interest qualified to vote. Because women were considered ignorant in the ways of government and business, and a man not owning property was thought to be too young and inexperienced to cast a thoughtful ballot, or simply unqualified by virtue of his station in life, they were excluded from voting. Land was prized above most things (this was a time when Ben Franklin said of our agrarian society, “All wealth will come from the ground.”), so that or a minimum amounts of land, savings or taxes paid were used as a criteria to qualify to vote.
Below are quotes illustrating the thinking at that time. It applies today as much as it did then. My thesis is that if only people with a vested interest in the long term survival of the US were voting, this aberration of an Obama re-election could never have happened.
'Property requirements were widespread. Some colonies required a voter to own a certain amount of land or land of a specified value. Others required personal property of a certain value, or payment of a certain amount of taxes. Examples from 1763 show the variety of these requirements. Delaware expected voters to own fifty acres of land or property worth £40. Rhode Island set the limit at land valued at £40 or worth an annual rent of £2. Connecticut required land worth an annual rent of £2 or livestock worth £40.
John Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence and later president, wrote in 1776 that no good could come from enfranchising more Americans:
Depend upon it, Sir, it is dangerous to open so fruitful a source of controversy and altercation as would be opened by attempting to alter the qualifications of voters; there will be no end to it. New claims will arise; women will demand the vote; lads from 12 to 21 will think their rights not enough attended to; and every man who has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other, in all acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and prostrate all ranks to one common level.
The true reason of requiring any qualification, with regard to property, in voters, is to exclude such persons as are in so mean a situation that they are esteemed to have no will of their own. If these persons had votes, they would be tempted to dispose of them under some undue influence or other. This would give a great, an artful, or a wealthy man, a larger share in elections than is consistent with general liberty.”
Interesting that the quote above believes limiting who can vote would protect against wealth having an undue influence. What has happened since the one man one vote policy was adopted is not that wealthy individuals have gained undue influence, but the government itself has become the wealthy force that trades favors for votes. The never ending expansion of the social programs has provided a framework for Democrats to gain and expand power. These programs have proven to be cancers destroying the nations economic and social fabric under the false banner of compassion, but they succeed in garnering votes.
Most Democratic voters have no idea what philosophy the party employs, they don’t know who the Vice President is, who their senator is, or anything else related to the economy, civics or the legal system. But they do know how to apply for welfare, food stamps, aid to dependent children, heating subsidies rent subsidies and Obama phones, and they know what party to vote for to insure the money for these programs keeps flowing.
Whether these laws limiting voting accomplished their purpose, or could have been crafted better is open to debate. Even if there was merit at the time to the prohibition on women voting, it certainly would be an absurdity today. But the idea that letting the entire public vote would destroy the democracy is as true today as it was then. In order to expand the class of uninformed voters, the Obama crowd routinely insults our intelligence with nonsensical claims such as arguing that identifying oneself at a polling place is undemocratic and an undue burden. To the contrary it is both democratic and a small step in the right direction if this nation is to survive.
Early critics of a democratic system said a democracy can only exist until the voters learn they can vote themselves the other guys money. I fear our system, one man one vote, will prove those early critics right. We are seeing it in real time with the election of the most unqualified, most dangerous, man to ever run for much less hold the office of the President. He is an ideologue with no sense of history, no experience in the real world, no understanding of capitalism or any other economic system, whose world view has been shaped by intellectually arrogant and intellectually bankrupt, unaccomplished, fringe radicals.