Tea Party figure: This whole universal suffrage thing isn't working

Judson Phillips thinks you should own property to be eligible to vote.

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.

Just in case that didn’t disenfranchise enough Democratic voters:

Of course, when people talk, three Amendments that really are the only ones that seriously get talked about getting repealed: the 16th Amendment, for the income tax, and we can only hope that happens; the 17th Amendment for having the appointment of Senators got back to state legislatures; and the 26th Amendment, I believe it is…

The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18.

When called on it, Phillips doubled down:

A couple of weeks ago, on the Tea Party Nation radio show, I was talking with David DeGerolamo of NC Freedom about the Founding Fathers and the original Constitution. During the course of our discussion, I mentioned that the founding fathers limited voting rights to property owners. I commented this was a wise idea.

Apparently, two weeks after the show, some liberal stumbled across it and today, that comment has turned into liberal headlines such as, “Tea Party Nation President says It Makes A Lot of Sense to Restrict Voting to Property Owners” and “Tea Party Leaders Attack Constitution.” Suddenly, this has morphed from a discussion between two tea partiers into articles claiming that I want to change the Constitution to restrict voting to property owners. […]

Watching the left go into hysteria over this has been nothing short of amusing. Of course, when the left goes spastic over something like this, they either get it wrong, or nine times out of ten, they lie about what was said.

Note that the quotes used in this post are all his own words.

It’s very entertaining watching your politics from up here in Canuckistan.

Unfortunately for me my father has been spouting this same crap for years.

Let’s be fair. His commentary regarding propertied voting is, essentially, non-controversial. By definition, an owner of property in a community has a more vested interest, literally in the terms by which we speak about vesting in a retirement plan, and figuratively in that the property owner has more to lose if a meteor strikes the community, if only because he has more to lose on the trip from Land Baron to Vaporized Dead Guy. He also never went so far as to say that it should be the policy - he just said that the policy “made sense,” which is true of a lot of things. A policy of letting any person that can’t afford health care die of pneumonia also makes a lot of sense from a certain frame of reference (specifically, one which regards medical care as a paid good and not a public service).

The more controversial stuff he said, though, would be about repealing the 14th amendment in that second link that took forever to open. Wanting to get rid of 16 isn’t new - Keyes has been on about that for as long as I can remember - but wanting to remove the equal protection clause from the Constitution is sort of a new wrinkle. What he said about propertied voting is defensible - wanting to get rid of one of the most useful clauses of the document is not so much. I think the media might have jumped on the wrong story here if they want to make the guy look as ogreish as possible. Hell, even if they don’t. Propertied voting is a concept most people don’t pick up and examine after they get out of their high school civics classes. Not being able to make a law against brown people, however, is a quite simple and obvious fundamentally good idea.

Yes, if you believe feudalism is what we should be striving for in a society!

You an I have quite different ideas about what is non-controversial.

I don’t mean defensible as in good or right - I mean defensible as in a valid statement. Only allowing people who own property to make decisions about how to run that property IS a valid government and rights structure you can implement, with benefits and drawbacks all its own. I don’t particularly want to live there, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t examine it as a thought experiment. He’s just Rand Pauling all over it and spitballing the kind of crap that you talk about after Intro to Poli Sci on national radio. I make no judgment of what the man actually believes, but the underlying basis of his statements aren’t as radical as is being implied, and the truly radical lunacy is, so far as I can tell, being disregarded in favor of a remedial civics debate.

I mean, am I wrong here? Did he say in that second article that he wanted to repeal the 14th amendment? Isn’t that, like, one of the most cited amendments in Supreme Court decisions since it was passed? How are we letting that ridiculousness slide and trying to bust his chops over a subject that, if he weren’t a smoking idiot, you could actually have a reasoned discussion about? Let’s get our priorities in order. We’re repeating the Rand Paul debacle again, getting led off down a corridor where there’s at least a half-defensible libertarian position informing his hooting instead of asking him how, exactly, he came to the conclusion that pi equals exactly three. I just want to make sure that we optimize the amount of ass-kickery we get out of this entire fiasco.

Oh, for the love of God, Seiler. There’s no intrinsic reason my life is worth more than the life of a poorer person. Hell, you could reverse the equation entirely: The life of a vagrant is worth more than my life, because his shopping cart has way more crushed aluminum cans than I currently possess.

Only a society built top-to-bottom around the accumulation of wealth should have a wealth requirement for voting. And although cynical posters will jump on this post and claim that’s what American society is, our society is not at all built that way. The state shouldn’t change the way it values me if I choose to retire early, or if I choose to work a lower salaried job that I enjoy more. As a faux-libertarian, I would expect you to understand that.

It’s also worth noting that, intellectually, renting isn’t any different from a contract to buy land married with a contract to sell the land back to it’s original owner on a certain date. Yes, the tax implications are different, but faux-libretarians like yourself hate it when taxes distort behavior, so…

Oh, there’s quite enough ass-kickery to go around, there’s no need to conserve ammunition or anything.

I ignored his cohost going on about the 14th amendment because (a) that’s the usual militia/Posse Comitatus seccessionist wonkery from the far right and (b) his cohost doesn’t claim to be representative of a large contingent of the tea party movement.

Repealing the 17th Amendment, on the other hand (returning the Senate to an appointed chamber) is not only advocated by a large portion of the right wing, it’s also really freaking scary when you consider just the sort of people who make it into the state legislature (Anderson Cooper had an amusing demonstration of this last night). It would essentially recast the Senate as the House of Lords, which may well have been the Founding Fathers’ original intent but is not terribly conducive to effective governance.

And that’s not even to mention the naked disenfranchisement of returning the voting age to 21 - gerrymandering on a national scale.

But the woolgathering about limiting voting to property owners is interesting because it makes the thought process of this person, and by extension their movement, so nakedly obvious. Yes, recasting the US as an oligarchy is a ‘defensible thought experiment’, but only in the most narrowly syntactical sense. In the realm of actual reality, the great majority of people would see it for what it is - government by the rich, for the rich, to loot the rest.

So there will be less voters due to all the homeowners losing their houses from mortgage defaults?

Well, according to the person who started the whole tea party movement, they’re just losers and we shouldn’t be worried about them anyway.

I also agree that there’s plenty of the dumb to go around in this incident, but the voting for property owners only thought exercise is always a stupid one. It doesn’t take much to go from that to “larger property owners should get a bigger vote since they have more invested in the country!”

Heh, this got me thinking about eminent domain in the US. The state could essential force out voters by reclaiming their land. Oh the fun that could be had!

Clearly we should just base elections on who spends the most money to get elected. It’s only fair.

You mean due to all the lords losing their castles? Yep.

Edit - as a side note, considering that corporations are now considered as having rights to free speech, I wonder if banks would be able to argue that they should have votes equivalent to all the forclosed homes they own?

You say that like it’s not already the case.

An argument could be made that a more formal concession to class division in the legislature is desirable in a single-member-plurality but non-Westminster system, if only because the 2-party status quo has so effectively submerged economic conflicts beneath identity politics.

I think that was the point.

I kind of like the idea of literacy and civics requirements; obviously that would excuse many Tea Party members from voting. But I’m not serious about it, because any kind of exclusion along those lines would be so easy to abuse by local authorities that it would be worthless at best, and most likely would wind up doing more harm than good.

I agree with this, both in the concept that it seems like a good idea, and in the realization that on a practical level it wouldn’t be possible to implement in a fair, non-discriminatory way (i.e. discriminating against things other than what was intended).

If we’re making up arbitrary voting systems though, I want each person to have a vote, but it’s weighted by what their score on the civics test is. Or even on a per-position basis: if you don’t know what the State Comptroller does, your vote for the position doesn’t count.