Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ann Coulter Sums Up Skewed Conservative Worldview on Democracy

Ann Coulter has always been a conservative firebrand saying absurd things that any sensible person should question. But when she started talking about voting rights on Fox News yesterday, the American public might want to listen a little more carefully, as conservatives across the country continue to push an agenda to disenfranchise million of voters, generally those less susceptible to their absurdist rhetoric. In the segment, Coulter actually advocated including a literacy test with voting, a policy once used to disenfranchise black voters (the test was impossible to finish in the time allotted and was given only to black voters). The common Southern strategy, along with poll taxes to keep the poor from voting, was outlawed with the 1965 Voting Rights Act, leading to a dramatic increase in the number of African Americans who voted in subsequent elections.

When asked by Fox News host Brian Kilmeade whether it bothered her that her vote counted just as much as someone who knew nothing about politics, she responded: "More than I can say. I just think it should be, well for one thing, a little more difficult to vote. There's nothing unconstitutional about literacy tests." Of course this is untrue, given the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but facts are just stupid things to Coulter and most of the talking heads over at Fox. Coulter went on to say she was fine with letting "Democrats do all of the vote theft they can get away with," but she was adamant that voting day should be limited to "one 24-hour period."

Finally, she was asked about more civics education in schools to address the issue. Her response: “"Maybe we can check to see if they can name the vice president before letting them vote. As for more civic education, that usually means the 12 years of Chinese-style propaganda in public schools, which only means you are dumber than someone who has not gone to school.” So just to sum up: 1. A literacy test should be given to voters, but don’t look to education to address any lack of literacy among the public, 2. Voting should only be done over one 24-hour period for no apparent reason other than it will allow less poor people to vote, 3. Democrats are involved in “vote theft” (of course, no evidence is forthcoming) and 4. Our schools have apparently been taken over my Maoist Communists who have infiltrated the civics education curriculum (somehow I missed the news on this one).

Coulter is, of course, a radical voice who sells books based on saying outlandish things that enough people believe to keep the millions rolling in. But what’s troubling about a segment like this is this is where the absurdity meets policy, as is too often the case on the right today. Coulter, with her unsubstantiated claims and rather ridiculous rhetorical flourishes is actually advocating for many of the disenfranchisement strategies being pushed by conservative legislators across the country including: 1. Ending early and absentee ballot voting (which, by the way, helped George Bush “win” the Presidency in 2000), 2. Instituting outdated and unconstitutional deterrents to voting like poll and literacy tests, 3. Ending voter registration programs at DMVs across the country; one of the most effective ways to increase registration and voting participation and 4. Claiming massive voter fraud when there is little evidence to support it. This is what passes for sensible dialogue in the U.S. today and why the public needs to demand a more critical and reflexive mainstream media.

While we’re on the topic of conservative attempts to turn the clock back on the progress of the last 100 years or so, the Tennessee House voted on Wednesday to make the bible the official state book and a day earlier, in Oklahoma, the OK attorney general defended the schools giving out bibles, claiming that religious freedom is under attack in America. Of course, one could argue that sanity is under attack in America as well, but that sounds a little too rational and thus liberal, nay socialist, for these debates.

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