Ben Shapiro's Constitution Literacy Tests For Voting Would Ensure Trump, GOP Can't Vote. LET'S DO IT!
Noted conservative scholar Ben Shapiro is just wondering why Americans can vote who aren't landowning super geniuses like himself. He's stuck in the ethical debates of the 19th Century. Next up is whether pantaloons are appropriate dinner attire.
Shapiro argued yesterday for some "required testing" before citizens receive the privilege of voting. He absolutely doesn't want a "fake poll test, literacy test designed to exclude black people ... or something." He just thinks we should have a real test that excludes people he doesn't like from exercising the franchise.
SHAPIRO: The idea that you'd have to have a basic knowledge of America's Constitution, for example, in order to vote. I don't see that as a horrible idea. I really don't.
This "idea" would exclude the president and most Republicans in Congress. Maybe Shapiro is fine with that, but I still think voting is a fundamental right and we shouldn't deny it even to presidents who don't know what Article Two (or Two Corinthians) is. Trump's hero, Andrew Jackson, was a big proponent of universal suffrage with the only tiny restriction being your race and gender. By 1856, the requirements for owning property or even paying taxes were eliminated. You could even still believe in witches and vote.
Shapiro is especially concerned about the haphazard voting system we currently have.
SHAPIRO: The system that we have right now, which is you pick up a bunch of people at a bus stop and you bring them to a voting place, which is really what's happening in a lot of local elections.
This "system" Shapiro denounces is voter accessibility. "Souls to the Polls" events, for instance, mobilize (mostly minority) voters. It's an effective get out the vote effort, but Shapiro regards it with suspicion for reasons that are somewhat obvious. Hey, those brown people are taking a bus ... to vote ... and they're sitting in both the back and front of the vehicle. Conservatives applaud armed white men in camouflage and tactical gear marching through city streets. That's a moving expression of their Second Amendment rights. Yet these same conservatives are very concerned whenever minorities choose the ballot over the bullet. Shapiro just can't see how more people voting more easily is "beneficial" to democracy.
SHAPIRO: I think you should have to jump through the hoop of taking the time and effort to vote.
Why? How is democracy served by forcing citizens to take the Steve Martin DUI test from The Man With Two Brains?
SHAPIRO: Because if you're not willing to do that then why should I take your vote as seriously as someone who's willing to take voting seriously?
Because voters are American citizens. Also, really, did I actually type that gibberish accurately? Shapiro demands to know why he should take your vote as seriously as someone who takes voting seriously in the arbitrary ways that Shapiro believes is taking voting seriously. This is hopelessly circular stupidity.
SHAPIRO: You shouldn't have to pay money for it, God forbid.
Deliberately making voting difficult is in effect a poll tax. Forcing hourly workers, for instance, to take extended time off just to vote -- despite multiple other more convenient and reliable options -- is needlessly punitive. No one needs to sacrifice half a day's pay so that Ben Fucking Shapiro will take their vote "seriously."
SHAPIRO: We shouldn't try to ban anyone from the polling places, God forbid, but the idea of a minimum level of knowledge about the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States isn't a horrible idea.
That is both a horrible idea and a horrible sentence. Shapiro doesn't even bother to define what he'd consider a "minimum level" of knowledge. I had to memorize the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence in middle school. Does that count? Anyone who's seen the Star Trek episode "The Omega Glory" can probably recite the preamble to the Constitution -- just not as awesomely as William Shatner. The trained myna bird approach to education is a personal pet peeve and I don't see how that would prove voters are more informed. If Shapiro wants to require college level mastery of the concepts and themes of those documents, he should endorse Bernie Sanders and his free college plan.
Shapiro is a shameless hypocrite. Like most conservatives, he doesn't trust government to manage health care. He believes even the most sensible gun safety proposal is the first step in total confiscation. However, he does trust the government to fairly administer "I can't believe it's not literacy tests" despite a proven track record of failing to do so without discriminating against people.
Voting is power, so I understand why Shapiro wants fewer people to have that power, but he shouldn't be so sure he'd pass any legitimate "knowledge" test himself.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).