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Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Never Trumper wants to revive literacy tests for voters

The Washington Post just gave a Never Trumper -- David Harsanyi of the Federalist -- enough rope to hang himself. Fine, but did he have to make conservatives out to be the reincarnation of Bull Connor and the rest of the Dixiecrats who used poll taxes and literacy tests to keep black people from voting?

Harsanyi wants a civics test before you can vote because voters rejected his candidate and his ideas in the Republican primary. The message from Harsanyi is that Trump won because the rest of us are stupid.

It is a childish counter-argument.

Me: I voted for Trump because I agree with his ideas and am impressed with his skills as an executive.

Harsanyi: You're stupid.

From Harsanyi's column:
Now, if voting is a consecrated rite of democracy, as liberals often argue, surely society can have certain minimal expectations for those participating. And if citizenship itself is as hallowed as Republicans argue, then surely the prospective voter can be asked to know just as much as the prospective citizen. Let’s give voters a test. The citizenship civics test will do just fine.
How many screeching proponents of the two major candidates would pass this quiz? Here are some of the questions, which run from easy to preposterously easy:
“If both the President and the Vice President can no longer serve, who becomes President?”
“There were 13 original states. Name three.”
“What is one right or freedom from the First Amendment?”
“What is freedom of religion?”
I have tempered confidence that at least a majority of the voting public could pass such a test — though I couldn’t say the same for a majority of presidential candidates. Certainly, this should be a breeze for citizens so intensely involved in the process that they feel compelled to plaster bumper stickers on their cars and attend the rallies of their favorite candidates.
The irony is that the column fails any civics test because it ignores the great danger of Jim Crow, which is that by asking subjective questions (“What is freedom of religion?”) you can disenfranchise the opposition's voters. Oh, he tacked on the end of his column a small acknowledgement of this, but without stating how he would prevent elections officials from abusing this power he would give them. That's because there is no way you can prevent such abuse. 

And yes, “What is freedom of religion?” is subjective. We have been arguing it for 500 years ever since Martin Luther nailed his thesis on the church door. The Supreme Court just punted on whether freedom of religion protects the Little Sisters of the Poor from having to buy birth control for other people. Does that mean the justices cannot vote in November?

The sanctimony of the Never Trump movement is surpassed only by its brazen ignorance of history, civics, and the very foundation of this country.

UPDATE: Harsanyi responded by saying he was misquoted. Folks, I cut and pasted seven paragraphs from his piece. I post. You decide.

Coming in June -- "Trump the Press: Don Surber's take on how the pundits blew the 2016 Republican race."


  1. "if voting is a consecrated rite of democracy, as liberals often argue, surely society can have certain minimal expectations for those participating"

    Night may follow day, but in Liberallandia, the second half of that sentence NEVER logically follows the first. Never mind requiring a knowledge of civics, I'd be happy if the courts allowed the states to require people to give proof of citizenship when they register to vote and proof of identity when go to the polls to vote.

  2. A real shame.David Harsanyi generally is good. He was at Denver Post for a short while, but I guess he was too conservative for them.

  3. Writing technology has moved on from the days when you could make the people you didn't like take their literacy test using a ballpoint pen and a piece of wax-paper.

  4. If anyone watched Jeopardy this week they know that the "media" and "pundits" are not knowledgeable. Two comedians out scored everyone else. My wife reminded me that the comedians have to keep up with current events while the others are just news readers. They don't have to know anything.

  5. I think it would be beneficial to give a breath test before they can vote. Not to weed out the drunks but to reduce the number of democrat voters. That would make sure only the ones alive vote.

  6. I'd go for that. Bet more democrats would fail the test than Republicans!

  7. Even a blind squirrel (like that idiot Harsanyi) finds a nut from time to time.

    I agree civics tests I agree could be gamed by the Ruling Class. How about a property test as we had at the founding of the Republic? Property requirements gave us Washington and Jefferson. Universal suffrage gave us idiots like Obama and Bush.

    Steve in Greensboro

  8. "UPDATE: Harsanyi responded by saying he was misquoted. Folks, I cut and pasted seven paragraphs from his piece. I post. You decide."

    Misquoted? Not the way I read it. He did not say we MUST have such a test, but strongly suggests we OUGHT to. I'll go with Don on this.

  9. Democrats insist that requiring ID to vote is an attempt by Republicans to disenfranchise minorities. Cuckservative Harsanyi suggests going even further with literacy tests to give Democrats more ammunition. Clearly Harsanyi is a strategic moron.

  10. Said it before, will say it again: DJT has this amazing ability to bring out people's true colors. The guy is like Obi Wan Kenobi. I'm just having so much fun with this whole deal right now! Big D, clearly, we need that new book of yours. Bring it on!

  11. Perhaps Harsanyi objects to characterizing his idea as a literacy test. It would, I think, more accurately be called a civics test. But that is quibbling, I suppose.