It has become apparent that I am going to have to reform the government of the United States. Frankly I’d rather remove one of my lungs with a ballpoint pen. Still, I’m nothing if not perfervidly public-spirited. I will not stand around like Nehru fiddling while Rome burned. Noblesse oblige, that sort of thing.
To begin, we have much too much democracy. We need to discourage people from voting. In fact, the gravest obstacle to the restoration of civilization in North America is universal suffrage. Letting everybody vote makes no sense. Obviously they are no good at it. The whole idea smacks of the fumble-witted idealism of a high-school Marxist society.
At least eighty percent of the electorate lives in blank medieval darkness regarding any matter of public policy or history. They might as well vote on the incisions needed in cardiac surgery as try to govern themselves. Poll after poll shows that even graduates of America’s pathetic Halloween universities (where the young disguised as students are hornswoggled by mountebanks disguised as professors), which means most of the universities, do not know who fought in WWI, or within a century when the Civil War took place, or who Galileo was. These are the better informed. The rest barely know what century they live in.
Unalloyed ignorance is not an obvious qualification for governing, despite all appearances.
Only two possible reasons exist for universal suffrage, both bad. The first is that if you let idiots vote, the Democrats will sometimes be elected. That is, it is a sort of affirmative action for the Democratic National Committee; this is perhaps slightly more desirable than, say, price supports for hemorrhagic tuberculosis. The only good thing that can be said about Democrats is that, when they are in power, the Republicans are not.
The second reason is that, in principle, the idiot vote will keep idiots from being maltreated by the bright. It does not, however, keep the bright from being maltreated by idiots, who are far more numerous. They run the schools, for example, which is why students often can’t read after twelve years.
Obviously we need to restore something like the old literacy tests for voting. I’m not suggesting that we ask hard questions like “What German Jew ruled Egypt during the Eighteenth Dynasty?” (Surely you have heard of the Teuton Kamen.) Or “Translate from the Latin: ‘Civili si ergo fortibus es in ero; nobili deus trux.’” No. I wouldn’t even ask simple questions like when did Reconstruction end, or who was Neville Chamberlain.
However, potential voters would be required to find the United States on an outline map of the world. This would eliminate half the public. Ask them to find Japan and you would be down to ten percent. Then I’d have them read a randomly chosen paragraph from the Constitution and see whether they had the foggiest idea what it meant. Few would. (Think I’m kidding? In 1993 the level of functional illiteracy in Detroit was forty-seven percent.)
Next, nobody under the age of twenty-five should vote. A recent college graduate is a sorry cheese-brained late adolescent. With maturity he may be approximately rational, but at twenty-one maturity he don’t got yet. And he hasn’t seen squat of the world. Some will say, “Well, he’s old enough to die for his country, so he’s old enough to vote,” a thought that would embarrass a special-ed termite. A toddler is old enough to die in a car crash, which doesn’t establish that he should have a driver’s license.
Next, only foreign correspondents should be permitted to run for president.
Reflect how we choose today’s candidates. They are either useless gigolos like John Kerry, or pampered drunks inflicted on the polity by Texas in revenge for the Civil War. If they are not unmitigated brats, they have worked their way up in politics. This means that they began as second-rate lawyers, attached themselves like ticks to some party or other, and spent thirty years learning to lie, steal, manipulate, and suck up. Politics is a sieve eliminating the honest. It assures that you get what you don’t want. When these moral flatworms are finally nominated for The Big One, they know crooked dealing. It’s all they know. How much sense does this make?
Now consider the veteran correspondent. He has spent three years each in, say, Buenos Aires, Teheran, and Singapore, and speaks a couple of the languages. He actually knows something about the world outside of the United States. A reporter spends his time learning about things, not in buying votes or grinning like a mental defective. The reporter’s instinct, though seldom that of the publisher, is to find the truth.
He knows the cities and governments of Asia, Africa, and Europe, the bars, villages, economies. He has seen wars at the level of ruptured abdomens and probably isn’t enchanted by them the way some draft-dodging amateur from Houston might be. He knows the people of these countries, and knows that they are people, which seems never quite to penetrate to jejune occupants of the great double-wide on Pennsylvania Avenue.
A foreign correspondent of course has worked as a reporter in America, probably on a large metro daily, which is how you get to the foreign desk. This means that he has covered things like municipal government, that he has ridden with the police and written of the courts and actually knows what goes on and how things work. This sounds like a qualification to me.
Finally I’d set out to promote aristocracy. Though the Floundering Fathers didn’t intend it, we now see that representative government quickly turns into the dictatorship of the proletariat. If you doubt this, I congratulate you on not having a television. Today, the worst impose themselves on all, because they can.
We need to encourage the establishment of sharply delineated social classes to include silly titles and knighthoods and crowns. (I want to be the Duke of Guadalajara.)
Aristocrats are not necessarily brighter or more tasteful than the lower classes. The British royal family is conclusive evidence. Yet aristocrats very much want to think that they are superior. To sustain this illusion they will support opera and literature that many of them don’t like, so as to distinguish themselves from hoi polloi. One thinks of JS Bach at the court of Frederick the Great, or Wagner and Ludvig II. Then one thinks of the White House. Then if one can, one ceases to think.
I cannot imagine that the foregoing recommendations will not be enacted by a grateful country. In anticipation I am going to get a coat of arms from a mail-order company and begin building a castle.
Typical Americans. Would you want these people to vote?
Fred Reed is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well.