By far, the article that has been linked to more than any other is one of the first I penned back in 2010. It is entitled “The Founding Fathers Did Not Want You to Vote.”
Traffic to that essay has been up and down over the years, tending to do well during election season. But this year was different.
Online views began a consistent upward trend last November, experienced several spikes during primary season, and picked up steam as the party conventions aired. Since September, it has been viewed dozens, and then hundreds of times per day.
So far in 2016, the essay has received more than three times as many hits as it had during the previous five years combined.
To date it has been viewed nearly 7,000 times at my website, with another 150 views today before by 10:00 AM.
I run a small, non-profit, personal web page. An idiosyncratic little blog with fewer than 70 subscribers and just over 500 Facebook followers. The popularity of “The Founding Fathers Did Not Want You to Vote” dwarfs anything else I’ve ever published, including my many essays cross-posted at much larger sites like 3 Quarks Daily, or various pieces that have occasionally caught lightening in a bottle.
I have no illusions about the essay’s popularity. I realize that many people who click to the page do not actually read it, or much of it.
But I also know how people are finding it, and I think that says something.
The initial wave of Facebook and Twitter linkings, which I revived a couple of weeks ago, has accounted for only minuscule fraction of the total traffic. Barely 1%.
The vast majority or people who end up at that page get there via a search engine.
In other words, part of the essay’s “success” is attributable to the dumb luck of stumbling into a title that ended up with good Search Engine Optimization.
In fact, right now if you Google the phrase “founding fathers didn’t want you to vote,” over 712,000 suggestions come up, and the very first one links to my site.
So the essay itself probably tells us nothing, other than offering a pithy explanation of why the framers of the Constitution created such restrictive voting rules.
The real insight, perhaps, is why this election has driven so many Americans to wonder about who gets to vote and why, and how that has changed over time.
Amid the astounding divisiveness of the Trump-Clinton contest, many people have wondered how anyone could vote for the Other candidate. After all, these campaigns were driven less by enthusiasm for either, and more by varying degrees of hatred for both.
“That candidate is [enter your preferred insult]! Who in their right mind would vote for him/her? Such a person isn’t qualified to vote!”
And then you recall something from your high school history class. Women couldn’t vote. Neither could black people. Oh yeah, your remember, even lots of white guys were disenfranchised once upon a time, and something called “Jacksonian democracy.”
Many Trump opponents will be tempted to say that this is exactly what the Founders had in mind when they placed buffers between the citizenry and the ballot box.
This is why they precluded anyone from voting directly for any federal politicians except for members of the House of Representatives.
This is why they created highly restrictive voting laws that banned the poor and uneducated, allowing for what they believed to be a meritocractic elite of voters.
This is why they feared democracy and placed severe restrictions on it.
This is why they worried democracy would lead to demagoguery.
And Donald Trump is precisely the kind of unqualified, dangerous, populist megalomaniac they feared would become president if they liberalized voting laws.
And that’s probably all true.
But remember. Hillary Clinton is also precisely a type of person they would have been aghast at, for rather different reasons. As is Barack Obama. And Bernie Sanders.
And yes, the Founding Fathers are probably spinning in their graves at the angry populist wave Trump rode to the White House. But they also are doing somersaults about all the black, brown, and female voters who tried to stop him by voting for a woman.
There’s no going back, and just as well. There were no golden days to return to. That’s History 101.
Democracy’s here. At least for now. And it can only be what we make of it.
Organize. Strategize. Mobilize.