James Leroy Wilson's blog

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Citizenship

I saw the movie Starship Troopers today for the first time. It was decent television fare for a lazy weekend afternoon. Not having read Robert Heinlein's novel, I'm relieved to learn that it is not much like the movie at all.

But there is one common theme, apparently, in both the novel and movie. It is the idea that citizenship should be earned. To have the right to vote, one must volunteer for some sort of national service for a couple of years. But this service is open to everyone, no one is required to join, and one can quit at any time. To be a citizen means to be personally responsible for the safety of the community. Another way to look at it is, one does not have the right to legislate other people's lives if they haven't put their own lives on the line.

It can and should be mentioned that no one has the right to legislate other people's lives in any case. Nevertheless, to the extent government does exist, an earned citizenship through service sounds fairer than allowing any idiot the right to vote his prejudices or interests. (Or, as some on the right have proposed, to weigh voting rights with how much in taxes one pays.)

This does not mean I endorse some sort of "national service" on the federal level in exchange for citizenship. I much prefer democracy at the "town meeting" level. But at that level, I could see allowing voting on public affairs only to those who are willing to serve the community in various capacities: organized militia, firefighting, law enforcement posse, disaster relief, jury duty, etc. The more governmental services are provided by volunteers, the lower taxes would be. This doesn't mean they would be entitled to separate laws for themselves. Non-citizens would have the same rights, including the right to bear arms to defend themselves, their homes, and families. It's just that those who do not put in the time or put their lives on the line on behalf of the community wouldn't have the power to determine the course of community affairs.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    I believe I had similar thoughts when watching (then reading) Starship troopers.

    Frankly, I'm all for restricting the right to vote--as long as it is done in a way that anyone can reasonably rise above the restrictions. For example, some countries require you to vote in every election, or no elections (I think).

    Basically, there are too many morons who only vote because they believe that they should (though they don't believe that they should stay informed about what's going on).

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