So topic of the day: Voting
In class right now we're studying the Civil Rights movement, today's planned discussion revolved around some of the ways voting was limited like the poll tax and literacy tests in order to vote. The talk started to morph into what if we had some sort of test like that for today's elections. One very vocal kid in our class was saying that we have to get rid of arbitrary votes and there should be some sort of test to see if you understand what is going on in the election. We had a fairly heated debate for the rest of class which boiled down to this: If you are an idiot you shouldn't be able to vote. My side of this is that everyone should be allowed to vote, regardless of your intelligence or knowledge of the issues.
I've been tossing these questions and debates around in my head all day, I knew that straight from the beginning something made me distinctly uncomfortable about the argument. I know that nothing like this was likely to happen and that our voting system isn't going to change but there was still something uncomfortable about the whole thing. What I realized is that I was seeing the beginnings of discrimination in my classroom. We've been talking about racism all week in class and how we're all trying not to have this preconceived ideas about people yet still do. We've talked about how we're always working to get rid of these biases. However today I saw a classroom full of elitists who thought that they knew better and that this was how things should be run. I saw how racism and prejudice could get started.
I don't know if you guys are familiar with the concept of group think. If you're not, it's basically how ideas spread through a group. There are a few different ways it works like during the witch trials when people would really and truly believe that someone was a witch because so-and-so had seen them do such-and-such soon everyone is convinced of the validity of the statement. It made me squirm to be in class today because in some ways that is what was going on. It seems perfectly sensible that we shouldn't have arbitrary votes if we want a valid election, however when you think about it, what counts as arbitrary? How do you test for that? By the end of class our teacher was saying to everyone, "You're an idiot, you can't vote!" I don't think it is possible for anyone to define what qualifies you to vote, beyond your age. Intelligence, race, religion, hair color and shoe size should not limit the democratic process; everyone should be able to vote.
I truly hope that history is not doomed to repeat itself and that we are making more progress in eliminating prejudice rather than creating it.