Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Jonah Goldberg dances around the politics of giving freed ex-felons the vote—Marion Barry! It's a Democratic ploy! Hillary Clinton! Advocates are exaggerating! Willie Horton! Opportunistic Blue-state federalism! What's racism got to do with it? It's a stalking horse for letting prisoners vote! Did I mention Marion Barry?—before reasonably settling on federalism as the best way to deal with the issue. Then he closes with this:
The principle behind Clinton's proposed legislation […] is that the nation's democracy is "enriched" when more people vote.
Who says? If you are having an intelligent conversation with somebody, is it enriched if a mob of uninformed louts, never mind ex-cons and rapists, barges in? People who want to make voting easier are in effect saying that those who previously didn't care or know enough about the country to vote are exactly the kind of voters this country needs now.
While Goldberg's distaste for Jeffersonianism is touching (as is his bizarre analogy of voting as "an intelligent conversation"), his description of what enfrancishement advocates "are in effect saying" is wrong, at least in my case. The principle isn't that ex-sodomites or first-time drug offenders who've served their time will vote well, or Democratic, or even at all, but rather the quaint notion that taxation of free citizens should be bundled with at least the option of representation. Also, there are way too many damned felonies.