June 14, 2005

Combat, Heritage-Style

Since the Heritage Foundation is in the news today, I thought I'd go back and read one of my favorite Legal Affairs Debate Club debates from a few weeks back. It's the one between American University's Jamin Raskin and Heritage's Matthew Spalding over whether non-citizens should have the right to vote in local elections. Here's the paraphrased version:
Raskin: Immigrants often comprise a majority in many localities, have a vested interest in the public school system, and pay taxes. So it makes sense for them to be allowed to vote in school board, PTA and city council elections. If anything, this will help foster a sense of civic responsibility among non-citizens, and pave the way towards citizenship. Plus, states did it all the time in the past!

Spalding: Doesn't matter. We don't have to let them vote. We don't have to let anyone vote that we don't want to. That's what citizenship's all about. Letting those people vote would just water down citizenship. Do you hate citizenship?

Raskin: Er, no, but it might be a good idea...

Spalding: But we don't have to do it if we don't want to!

Raskin: Um, okay. By the way, since you love citizenship so much, perhaps you'll agree that we need a constitutional amendment to enfranchise the 8 million U.S. citizens who don't currently have the right to vote: namely, inhabitants of Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa, Washington D.C., as well as felons.

Spalding: You're wrong. The Constitution says we don't have to let any of those people vote if we don't want to.

Raskin: Er... bu... Okay, back on topic then. U.S. courts have argued over the years that since non-citizens on our land pay taxes, can be conscripted, are subject to our laws, they have a natural right to—

Spalding: But we don't have to let them vote. We just don't, okay? Even motherfucking Aristotle says we don't have to.

Raskin: Now we want to be careful not to get too xenophobic here...

Spalding: No, the problem is that YOU hate America. And immigrants hate you.
Er, the actual debate was a bit wordier, but that's more or less the gist. Truly a classic of the genre. What we need now is some sort of... summer camp, where we can train the next generation of these delightful little Heritage folks. By the way, I think Raskin's idea is quite sound on the merits. And a constitutional right to vote goes without saying. And Puerto Rico, Washington D.C., and the rest all ought to get Senate seats and other forms of representation. But Congress would never go for it, obviously, unless we could rustle up an equal number of backwoods territories that would be likely to vote Republican, to balance it all out. Hm, perhaps we can take over Saskatchewan...
-- Brad Plumer 10:40 PM || ||