Dr. Ruth S. Hertzberg: Liddick’s wild ideas
To those who still try to read Morgan Liddick’s column “On the Right,” unfortunately he has resumed his right-wing diatribes filled with misinformation and mean-spiritedness. Evidently he supports former Rep. Tom Tancredo in his depiction of many voters (especially those who voted for Barack Obama and the Democrats) as lacking in civic literacy, whatever that means.
Mr. Liddick advocates giving a 10 question “Civic Literacy” quiz in which anyone who wants to vote must get at least nine correct. Composed of such questions as what stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful? (How does he think Sarah Palin would do on this 10-question quiz?) Neither Mr. Liddick nor Mr. Tancredo seem to be aware that literacy quizzes in order to vote are illegal, having been banned in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (passed under the Johnson administration). Literacy tests, civic and others had been used in many southern states to prevent Afro-Americans from voting. Presumably if Mr. Liddick had been writing a column in 1965 he would have been against the Voting Rights Act and all Civil Rights Acts passed during this period. After the passage of the Voting Rights Act, participation by African Americans in elections increased as barriers were removed.
If one tries to answer the question as to what stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful, I would answer “not much,” since the five men on the Supreme Court have now ruled that money is speech and corporations (who have more money than any other group), who are the same as persons, can spend as much as they want in support of political candidates. The Judicial Branch (the Supreme Court) has surely exceeded the power given to it in the Constitution.
Mr. Liddick evidently supports what he regards as the “original intent” of the founding fathers as he quotes John Jay in the Federalist Papers, saying that a majority “neither wise nor good” might use the government to punish and plunder one class of citizens to the benefit of another. (It seems to me that that is exactly what the Bush administration did with its tax cuts for the wealthy.) It is true that many of the founding fathers were anti-democratic. Alexander Hamilton opined that “the people were a beast.” In our development as the greatest democracy in the world, we have come a long way from that feeling of repulsion.
If we ever instituted a literacy test such as described by Mr. Liddick, we would definitely eliminate all people with limited education, all recent immigrants, perhaps all minorities and working people. Then we would insure the election of wealthy landed elites, probably Republicans. This is obviously the motivation for Mr. Liddick and Mr. Tancredo. Neither one of them will find much support for their reactionary ideas.
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