The United States of America is part of a constantly changing facade. Our country manages to evolve and continue to grow because we openly accept other nationalities and races into our society.
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We accord them to decency and respect expected of a gracious host towards his guest. Extending each and every allowance so that they may feel comfortable in their strange surroundings and have a sense of home because they are accepted regardless of their shortcomings.
However, it has recently come to light that these non-citizen’s are slowly invading the rights of our citizenry and has left us citizens to answer the question “Do non- citizens deserve the right to vote?”.
Which then leads one to wonder as to whether these people have actually earned the right to have a say in the way our country is run just because they live and work here. There are actually 2 schools of thought regarding this issue.
Both of which seem to have sound reasoning when you hear their representatives talk. But in the end, it is actually just your personal opinion that will matter. Whether it makes a difference or not.
Noted Associate Professor of Political Science Ron Hayduk (2009) is a staunch advocate of the non-citizen’s right to vote in both local and national elections. His reasons are based upon 3 major premises which he explains as follows:
1. It’s legal – The constitution does not preclude preclude it and the courts — including the Supreme Court — have upheld voting by non-citizens. Non-citizens have enjoyed voting rights for most of U.S. History and continue to do so this day.
2. It’s rational – There are moral and practical reasons to restore immigrant voting — including the notion of equal rights and treatment — as well as mutual benefits that accrue to all community members, citizens, and non-citizens alike.
3. It’s feasible – Non-citizen voting is making a comeback in U.S. and globally. (The Case For Immigrant Voting Rights, p.84)
Prof. Hayduk (2009) makes some highly interesting supportive points in his essay and, if one were to allow emotion instead of logic to reign, validity in his reasoning may actually be found.
If one were to give it considerable thought, non-citizens are already residents of the country and they already enjoy equal treatment with their peers, regardless of their citizenship status. Including earning from our business sector, integrating into our society, and paying taxes on certain earnings and purchases.
All our socio-political decisions already have a direct bearing on the non-citizens lives because of their resident status in the country. Therefore, they should be given a voice by which their sentiments can be heard and protected.
Our society exists in an symbiotic relationship with all the citizens so allowing the non-citizens to vote should actually be a no-brainer.
But, if we pay attention to the little known details and intricacies of the voting system, we will see how Hayduk’s arguments are riddled with errors and imagined benefits.
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The main concern being on what separates a citizen from a non-citizen and how blurring that divider will cause confusion and danger for our centennials old way of life.
Stanley Renshon (2008), the noted Professor of Political Science from City University of New York Graduate Center points out that voting is a privilege and not a right. Therefore the voting issue is something which should not even be coming up.
Renshon (2008) further argues that by allowing non-citizen’s to vote, we will further be blurring the difference between citizenship and resident status to the point where being awarded citizenship may no longer matter since they can participate in democratic exercises without really understanding what they are voting on or what the issues are really about. To quote Renshon (2009):
These activists are trying to erase the distinction between citizen and alien, or between citizen and foreigner…[speaking] directly to the nature of state sovereignty itself. (The Debate Over Non-Citizen Voting: A Primer, p. 92)
By allowing non-citizens to vote, we would be putting the very essence of our country’s history on the line. We would allow a rewriting of history as understood by people who may or may not become our fellow American.
If I were to be asked for my opinion on the matter, my answer would be as follows, “If you don’t understand the very foundation of our country’s democratic history and political turmoil, how can I expect you to make an educated vote?”
If there is even a chance that you could go back to your home country and leave us high and dry in turmoil filled times, does that make you worthy of a citizenship? If you hold dual citizenship, should we continue to honor you as such when there is obviously a real conflict of interest brewing?
Keeping those questions in mind, it should be pretty obvious that I support the stronger argument of the two, which belongs to Stanley Renshon.
Citizenship, if not born into, it something which takes time to acquire officially because those petitioners could easily move back to their home country anytime, leaving us high and dry to deal with their barbaric ways.
I say. let them come to me — when they are ready to face how vast our world actually is and why these people need to become citizens before they should be allowed anywhere near a voting precint.
Hayduk, Ron. “The Case For Immigrant Voting Rights”. 2009. Web.
Renshon, Stanley. “The Debate Over Non-citizen Voting: A Primer” April 2008. Web.