Every week, the Tea Party Nation hosts a weekly radio program, calling itself a “home for conservatives.” Two weeks ago, Tea Party Nation President Judson Phillips hosted the program and discussed changes that he felt should be made to voting rights in the United States....
PHILLIPS: The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote. It wasn’t you were just a citizen and you got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you’re not a property owner, you know, I’m sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners.[Rather moronic emphases removed]
Phillips is of course correct about the property requirements originally needed in order to be a voter. The legal concept was that of a "freeholder." Phillips is also correct in his assessment of the reasons why the Founding Fathers (or most of them) supported such a view. Phillips is undoubtedly wrong in thinking such provisions could be re-implemented or would meaningfully address any current deficiency in our voting practices.
However, Phillips is actually engaged in working through the political theory (at least in a limited fashion) and that is a hell of a lot more than his critics seem willing or able to do.
Think Progress (which ironically seems to require very little in the way of thinking):
Phillips is advocating a policy of voter disenfranchisement that has its roots in the 18th century. When the United States was first founded, ownership of property was one of the requirements to vote in most elections. Many of these restrictions were phased out by the 1820s and replaced with requirements that the voter pays taxes. By 1850, these requirements, too, were phased out.
This is all true, but trite. It in no way is an attempt to asses the reasons why we would make the changes we did; how the changes affected the way politics happens; the relative strengths and weaknesses when compared to the freeholder system; in other words the kind of thinking that should be done when engaged in political theory.
Granted Think Progress doesn't win the award for "I have no idea what I'm talking about stupid." That goes to Crooks and Liars. They quote the same Phillips soundbite above and respond:
Sure, let's just do away with the principle of "one man one vote" altogether! After all, the Roberts Court has now enshrined corporate personhood -- this would be the next logical step.
What? One man one vote? What does that have to do with the idea of restricting voting to Freeholders? Well, nothing. The poor folks at Crooks and Liars just got themselves confused while they were attempting to parrot another lefty site who were going on about the idea some Tea Parties tossed around about getting rid of direct election of Senators and mentioned that this would mean the principle of one person one vote for U.S. Senators would be violated. (This is so muddled I have no idea what they could be talking about. You cannot have "one man one vote" nationally when both Rhode Island and California both get to vote for two U.S. Senators. And since Reynolds v. Sims in 1964, all state legislatures have to adhere to "one man one vote." Simply giving state legislatures the task of picking U.S. Senators wouldn't alter that.)
The stupidity has given me a headache.
Maybe more later.