Billionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins raised the Internet’s collective eyebrows last week when he said Americans who don’t pay taxes – he likely meant income taxes – shouldn’t get to vote. (It didn’t help that Perkins had recently compared efforts to fight inequality to Kristallnacht). “The Tom Perkins System is: You don’t get to vote unless you pay a dollar of taxes,” Perkins said during a speech in San Francisco. “What I really think is, it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes. How’s that?” The audience laughed, and Perkins later implied he was being deliberately provocative. But the “Tom Perkins System” has its roots in some long-standing conservative thinking about the purpose of voting. And versions of that thinking continue to play a role in today’s heated debates over voter ID and other restrictive laws.
Progressives think of voting as a right. It’s the way a society of equals makes decisions. That’s why progressives generally see bringing new voters into the process as a good thing in itself. The more people involved, the more democratic the process, and the more legitimate the outcome.
But as the election law scholar Rick Hasen has written, many conservatives have tended to think about voting differently. For them, it’s a means to an end. And that end, an entirely reasonable one, is making an informed collective choice that will produce effective government and promote the common good.
Full Article: The conservative case to limit voting | MSNBC.