|All four of my grandparents were immigrants and I learned civics from their textbooks. The tests they took were intentionally inclusive. The idea was to set some minimum standard so that America could get as many citizens as possible without devolving into the chaos of democracy feared by federalists. However, in the South, voting tests were exclusionary and unequal. The White guys got the easy questions. It is a principle of the Constitution that voting rights are set by the states. The 26th Amendment would not prohibit a state from lowering the age to 16. Similarly, the prohibition on a poll tax only applies to federal elections. So, the states could create "civics" tests as a condition for voting, but citizenship is a federal responsibility and the ability to vote is the sine qua non of citizenship. Non-citizens have the same rights, pay the same taxes, etc, as citizens. Non-citizens have traditionally served in the U.S. military. The Irish cavalry sergeant is a cliche in the westerns. Serving in the military is one way to prove that you deserve citizenship. That's the Starship Trooper thing. |
Perhaps the first extention of the franchise in colonial times -- and an indication that capitalism was immanent -- was the tallying of tangible property via taxation versus the holding of real property. In other words, by paying taxes, by having some established taxable wealth, merchants, doctors and lawyers could vote, whether or not they owned land.
That said, I just read a Cato report by T. J. Rodgers, president of Cyprus Semiconductor, titled, Why Silicon Valley Should Not Normalize Relations with Washington D.C. What is this "civic revival" that seems to be needed? Why should people who would otherwise be productive divert their energy into an unprofitable undertaking?
Understand that I hold minor office as an elected Republican precinct delegate. I also serve on my local community corrections advisory committee. I am engaged in my community. I suppose if I were a person with a national sized aura, I would involved at that level. I am cognizant of the culture of civic engagement. However, since we are discussing this as if de novo, then I ask: Why the need for civic involvement?