Aubrey Turner discusses some excellent ideas on how to make the vote and citizenship more meaningful.
It doesn't get any better or more basic than intimating that the founders were smart enough to avoid some of the problems we've created by unraveling their wisdom. Even if their wisdom did grow from a balance of bitter debate over the role of government and the balance between state and federal power and roles. With the individual ultimately being the core sovereign, lest we forget that little detail. Oh wait, most of us already have.
The vote used to be based on property ownership. Aubrey discusses going back to that, but extending it to a more modern definition of productive citizenship. Since that might be hard to measure, let's go with unproductiveness, which is easy to determine. If you benefit from government largesse, you give up voting for the duration. When you become no longer dependent, you get the vote back.
See, the problem is that as time went on, the country grew in the politician's reliance on buying voters off with their own money (or that of others who paid more). Since anyone may vote, that means people who are already dependent can vote the status quo or more. This is not to say people would uniformly refuse to vote for policies that would provide assistance. It's just that people receiving assistance currently would not have an active stake.
And yes, let's stick to real punishment for real crimes, and ditch all the other "crimes" for the absurd overgrowth of government and reduction of sense that they tend to be.
It has even been argued that giving women the vote was a Bad Thing. Not sure I agree, but the argument is intriguing. It goes that women will vote instinctively to benefit their kids and families at the expense of anyone and everyone else, and at least once they are mothers, will lose at least some of what rationality they might have applied to politics. In short, they make the ideal voters to be bought by the politicians who support getting elected over supporting and defending the constitution, all it says and means, and all it implies without explicitly stating.
I am not sure I see it as being that bad, especially if we teach our daughters well. But then, that would require getting them out of government indoctrination centers and into home or good private schooling...
I do agree that popular election of senators should never have come about, and was a vicious slap in the face of the principles and balance on which this country was founded. Representatives represent the people, in proportion to the population. Senators represent the states, in equal say each, regardless of size, kind of like the U.N. with its one country, one vote setup for the general assembly.
Anyway, Aubrey was inspired by this post by Michele. Why let them vote? It seems a no brainer to me.