It's pretty common to hear people say that they're so disgusted with American politics that they're going to move to Canada and renounce their U.S. citizenship... especially if candidate X or Y wins the election. But people almost never follow through with this threat/promise.
But Joel Slater did. Back in the Reagan era (1987), he became so angry at U.S. policies that he decided to renounce his American citizenship. The problem was that he did this without first arranging to acquire citizenship in another country. So he made himself stateless.
He was in Australia when he renounced his citizenship, and had assumed he would be able to stay there. But no, Australia promptly deported him to the U.S. Then, as a stateless person, he discovered that he was effectively trapped in the U.S. because he couldn't travel anywhere else without a passport. He managed to make it into Canada and Mexico a few times without a passport, but they both eventually shipped him back to the States. He also couldn't legally work without a social security number. So he became homeless, surviving on "odd jobs and the generosity of strangers."
After much begging and pleading, he was able to regain his U.S. citizenship in 1993.
More info: wikipedia
Slater showing off his "Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States"
Source: Arizona Republic - Mar 17, 1991
Indianapolis Star - Nov 27, 1992
Yesterday I posted about a proposal to disenfranchise the elderly
. Here's a similar idea — a scheme to reduce the political power of grey hairs — but it goes about it in a different way. Instead of taking away the vote from the elderly, you give the vote to children. Their new political power would presumably balance out the influence of seniors, shifting state policy in new directions.
This idea has been repeatedly advocated by Paul E. Peterson
, professor of government at Harvard. He's argued for the idea in the journal Daedalus
(Fall 1992), The Brookings Review
(Winter 1993), and Education Next
The way it would work, in practice: "parents exercise the vote on behalf of their children... parents be given the option to assign the right to their child whenever they think he or she is capable of casting it on their own. That right, once given, can never be taken back."
The details that remain to be worked out: "Which parent gets the vote? What is to be done with election-day newborns? What proof of parentage is required?"
Peterson was not, by any means, the first to come up with the idea of letting children vote. Philippe van Parijs gives a brief history of the children's suffrage movement in his book Just Democracy
It has been repeatedly discussed for over a century, especially in France, and mostly with pro-natalist motivations. The earliest proposal of this sort seems to have been made, shortly after Prussia's victory over France, by a certain Henri Lasserre, 'the universally known historian of Notre-Dame de Lourdes'. In his proposal, every French citizen, whatever his or her age or gender, is given one vote, with the (male) head of each family exercising this right to vote on behalf of his wife and each of his children. The proposal was hardly noticed, however, except by the philosopher Gabriel de Tarde, who took it over enthusiastically, as a way of enforcing a concern for the interests of younger and unborn generations.
Image source: The Brookings Review (Winter 1993)
Back in 1970, Douglas P. Stewart, a professor of classics at Brandeis University, made headlines for advocating that the elderly should lose the right to vote.
His thesis is this:
"The old, having no future, are dangerously free from the consequences of their own political acts, and it makes no sense to allow the vote to someone who is actuarially unlikely to survive and pay the bills for (what) he may help elect."
In other words, Stewart thinks old people vote with an attitude of "grand je serais mort, je me ficherais de tou — (when I'm dead, it (society) can go to hell)."
Stewart, if he's still alive, would now be around 83. I wonder if he's still voting?
The Daily Journal (Franklin, Indiana) — Sep 23, 1970
Latest about.com article: A Brief History of Weird Campaign Promises
Example promises include:
- The elimination of poverty, after 10 pm. (Ferdinand Lop, 1940s)
- Pass a law to "keep them 'vine-ripened' stickers off of them mushy green tomatoes." (Connie Watts, 1960)
- Put joggers to good social use by forcing them to power treadmills to generate electricity. (Screaming Lord Sutch)
- Change the name of Aspen to "Fat City." (Hunter S. Thompson, 1970)
- Lose 50 pounds. (Adeline J. Geo-Karis, 1986)
Scott Allen Meek is running for President, and he's not afraid to call attention to serious issues. For instance, right at the top of his campaign website
he points out that "California is in it's 5th year of a Serious Draught."
He's the only candidate I'm aware of who's ever drawn attention to this problem, but as a California resident, I can confirm that it's absolutely true. Sometimes it gets so draughty here that I have to put on a sweatshirt. And as someone who's spent quite a bit of time in the UK, I appreciate his use of the British spelling of the word.
Other issues important to Meek include the promotion of desalination and hemp farming.