Just what democracy needs – more felons

By Tom Joyce - tjoyce@civitasmedia.com

Tom Joyce

There are plenty of things wrong with our democratic system, as evidenced by what’s been occurring recently with the presidential delegate situation, congressional redistricting controversies, etc.

Then there are the usual suspects such as voter apathy and/or ignorance and the disturbing role Big Money increasingly plays in the process of who gets elected and how long they stay in office.

While political experts have their various ideas about what can be done to improve the system, I am sure that injecting hundreds of thousands of convicted felons into the voting process is NOT a solution.

Yet that is exactly what Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is seeking to do through an executive order restoring voting rights to 206,000 felons in the Commonwealth. And – surprise, surprise! – this is coming just in time for the fall election season, when Virginia is expected to be a swing state that could help decide the next president.

Those criminals befitting naturally might want to show their gratitude by voting for candidates of McAuliffe’s Democratic Party, don’t you think? But the same indictment would apply to any Republican governor who did the same.

Aside from any short-term political motivations involved, the Virginia governor’s order is another example of an alarming trend nowadays. It’s one in which the lowest common denominators in society – the criminal element, the deadbeats, the lowlifes and those who make bad decisions in general – are seemingly rewarded by our governmental and other systems.

Now I do believe that if a person makes a one-time mistake, there ought to be mechanisms in place to allow him or her to become rehabilitated and essentially be given another chance, including returning the right to vote and other privileges. However, this should be administered on a case-by-case basis, not through some blanket measure that restores voter status to 206,000 people at a pop.

Gov. McAuliffe’s order applies to violent as well as non-violent offenders, so presumably murderers and rapists are included. Some critics of his move say it also will allow such individuals to serve on juries, notarize documents and even hold public office.

While some offenders do deserve a second chance, others have committed crimes so malicious and detrimental to society – and maybe more than once – that they effectively should be disqualified forever from the privileges afforded to law-abiding citizens.

When people are in a position where they might break the law, unless they are totally stupid they should be aware that it could lead to their arrest, a prison sentence, a large fine, probation and paying restitution to victims. They also should have at least some inkling that being convicted will affect their future employment and rights such as voting and gun ownership.

But under the “participation-trophy” mentality that prevails today, people sometimes aren’t held as accountable for their misdeeds as they should.

And there is little or no emphasis placed on good behavior anymore.

Instead, we have this anything-goes society in which no one is supposed to judge what anyone else does, no matter how disgusting and irresponsible it might be:

• If you’re convicted of a crime, don’t worry. You’ll probably be back on the streets as soon as the ink is dry on the warrants to commit more wrongdoings. Then if you’re caught again, that cycle is repeated.

• Then if you have trouble finding a job, just approach the growing number of employers with “ban the box” policies that keep applicants from being asked about their criminal history.

• And if not being able to vote is a problem, some governor is likely to issue an order removing that obstacle, also.

In addition to our home-grown criminals, illegal immigrants are benefiting from this same mentality by getting a pass from law enforcement and being able to live and work in America with no fear of repercussions.

Here again, the president can issue some executive order allowing this, and even if he or some governor doesn’t intervene on lawbreakers’ behalf, the U.S. Supreme Court can pretty much be counted on to do so when cases reach that body.

And if anyone objects to our Constitution and legal system being manipulated in such a manner – who dares to cling to the old-fashioned belief that laws should be obeyed as written – well, there’s a reliable way to deal with those trouble-makers, too.

Don’t bother listening to what they have to say – just label them as racist, divisive or spreaders of hate.

Tom Joyce is a staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce
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By Tom Joyce


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