Universal Suffrage?

Ever wonder whether it really makes sense for everyone to have the right to vote, especially given the results of our last disastrous election? Make no mistake, I support universal suffrage fully, completely. However, our friend Hugh raises some salient points that, while they do not change my mind, they do provide food for thought. Please take a few minutes to read his thoughtful and thought-provoking post! Thanks, Hugh!

hughcurtler

One of the very thorny problems the English (and later the Americans) worried about in the nineteenth century was the question of suffrage: who should vote? The question centered around the issue of whether only those who know best should vote or whether everyone should vote. The concern expressed was whether those who are “ignorant” — i.e., uneducated or the “luckless poor” in the words of Thomas Carlyle — should be allowed to make political decisions that affect the entire nation.

George Eliot dealt with the question in her novel Felix Holt: Radical and it seemed clear from that novel (if good novels can be said to make any single position “clear”) that Eliot was in favor of extending the vote to all men regardless of whether or not they owned property. Interestingly, however, Eliot, despite her liberal leanings, did not think women should be given the vote. In fact…

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