Democratic elected officials and groups that consider themselves “progressive” gathered at the state Capitol the other day to perpetuate the myth that people are oppressed in Connecticut because it’s too difficult to register to vote here.
Actually registering to vote could hardly be easier. You just visit town hall during regular business hours, which cover about 250 of 365 days per year, present identification, and take an oath.
But the elected officials who gathered at the Capitol — Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, state Sen. Matt Lesser, state Rep. Brandon McGee, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal — and were joined by representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, argued that legislation to make voter registration even easier should be raised in a special session of the General Assembly.
Their bill would require most state agencies to press voter registration forms on all visitors, hasten procedures for last-minute registration on Election Day, and allow criminal offenders on parole to vote.
There’s nothing terribly wrong about these measures but nothing compelling about them either.
The first two aim at uninformed and indifferent people, admittedly an ever-increasing number. As for parolees, hastening their re-enfranchisement would devalue their sentences and paroles. Of course former offenders should be reintegrated into society but sentences and paroles should stick. The real problem with such people is not the temporary impairment of their voting rights but that Connecticut has too much criminal law, especially drug contraband law. With less criminal law there would be fewer parolees.
The big problem is the uninformed and indifferent. Registering them to vote when they walk into a state Labor Department office looking for a job or into a state police office to apply for a gun permit won’t make them better informed or cause them to start caring about their town, state, and country.
That is the work of upbringing and education, and the half-century-long decline in the proportion of eligible adults registering to vote and participating in elections is a good measure of the failure of upbringing and education. Indeed, today most people, even most college students, cannot identify the three branches of government or answer basic questions about the country’s history. But then why should they when, thanks to social promotion, anyone in Connecticut can get a high school diploma without learning even to read, write, and do simple arithmetic, much less mastering civics?
There is oppression here but it has nothing to do with voter registration. It is the proletarianizing of society by a government that knows that its power is better secured by dumbing everyone down.
The leftward scramble among the Democratic presidential candidates includes clamor for financial reparations for slavery, as if government isn’t already reparative in everything it does to help the disadvantaged regardless of race.
But these days slavery isn’t the proximate cause of racial disparities in income and general well-being. Those disparities are caused mainly by family-destroying policies like drug criminalization and welfare for childbearing outside marriage and by local zoning policies that hinder people in finding homes in better jurisdictions and building property wealth.
The best reparations would be just to get rid of those policies. Doing so wouldn’t cost anything. Indeed, it would save a lot of money.