Of course, no one wants to ban the vote. Voting should remain available for sporting and recreational purposes. But certain types of votes clearly should be curtailed—"assault votes," for example, in which the only purpose of the vote is to harm others. One thinks of the angry, impulsive voters of Youngstown, Ohio, senselessly returning James Traficant to Congress. And although we hear a great deal about campaigns' being too expensive, there is an equal concern that candidates themselves will be cheap and dangerously unreliable. So-called "First-Tuesday-in-November Nothing-Specials" should be banned. As should imports of low-quality candidates from foreign sources. Hillary Clinton in New York State comes to mind. And extra penalties should be meted out for crimes committed with a vote, such as the Volstead Act and the law that makes flush toilets not flush a damn thing.
The League of Women Voters, Rock the Vote, leaders of local get-out-the-vote campaigns, and other members of the pro-vote lobby would have us believe that the "right to vote" is somehow a sacred part of the American system. But constitutional scholars—especially after they've been at the Warren Harding Club for a few hours (Freshen that up for you, Judge Bork?)—agree that there is no absolute constitutional right to vote. The Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-fourth, and Twenty-sixth Amendments to the Constitution merely state that possession of the vote cannot be denied on the basis of race, sex, failure to pay a poll tax, or having pierced eyebrows, listening to Tori Amos, and wearing pants that expose the midriff down to the knees. Otherwise voting qualifications are left to the states, with a Fourteenth Amendment provision that, to the extent that states limit the vote, congressional representation shall be reduced proportionately. If California had simply restricted its franchise to adults who can go ten minutes without talking about themselves, California would have no congressmen, and the whole gruesome Gary Condit scenario would never have occurred.
In fact, contrary to the supposed constitutional prohibition of vote control, every state in the Union except North Dakota practices voter registration. From there it is a small step to requiring background checks and instituting sensible waiting periods. Imagine how happy the family of Al Gore would be today if Palm Beach County voters had had a chance to pause and reflect and remember who Pat Buchanan is before marking their ballots.
Every vote should carry a serial number, so that responsibility for harmful or careless use of the vote can be traced. Concealed voting should be outlawed. No secure society is possible when we cannot know which of the people we encounter in public places might suddenly vote for H. Ross Perot.
And even toy votes must be kept out of the hands of children. Nothing has been more destructive to the fabric of American life than universal what's-for-dinner suffrage and majority control of the TV remote. No nation can prosper on Lucky Charms alone, or by allowing SpongeBob SquarePants to pre-empt NBA playoffs. Childproof channel-changer locks are an immediate imperative.
Christopher and I hope all of you will join us in this worthy, bipartisan campaign to make Americans safe from voting—especially those Americans who are our inside-the-Beltway political pals, journalistic sources, and fellow members of the Warren Harding Club, all of whom happen to be incumbents.