ben hammersley asks
given the US?s unique role on the international stage, is it morally right for its election to be decided, or even participated in, only by its own citizens? a while back joi ito wondered about this too, and a long thread of comments followed. with all due respect to the rest of the world, i hope non-americans never get the right to vote in america. if you don't like the influence america has on your country, i would encourage you to vote for representatives in your own country who won't accept that influence, use your voice and money to influence american public opinion, and do whatever else you want to push your political agenda. but i draw the line at voting. i realize these arguments don't need to be made, as there is no chance of this happening, but i make them here anyway.
there's no clear distinction between the framers of domestic and foreign policy in american government, so if non-americans were allowed to vote in american elections, they would be effectively deciding domestic policy for americans. our government system already does a poor enough job of representing us without this influence. this would also set a terrible precedent. i could easily cite influence on my own life as an american from numerous other countries, so following the logic of international voting, i should have a right to vote in these elections. but what happens with a country that doesn't have elections, or one that claims to be democratic, but in practice is not? should i allow them to vote in my country even though i don't have the same right in their own?
representative government needs to be getting narrower, not broader, to improve effectiveness. it's bad enough that i'm choosing government officials who are controlling events in california or alaska (or worse yet, iraq). i prefer the federal government stay out of state affairs as much as possible precisely because i don't want to be responsible for what happens in california or alaska - i don't live there to experience the full effects of my voting. allowing non-americans to vote in american elections would be far worse, as non-americans could easily vote for people who would bring disaster to america and have no idea they were doing so. at least when americans vote for people who bring disaster to america, we have to live with that disaster. this connection between the rights and responsibilities of voting would be lost if non-americans were allowed to vote in american elections. any improvements in policy wouldn't make up for that loss.