Voter Suppression On Steroids
“I am an aristocrat. I love liberty. I hate equality.” No, this is not a quote from Donald Trump or one of his surrogates. These were the words of John Randolph, a Virginia plantation owner, who, in the early 1800’s, vigorously opposed giving the vote to white men who did not own property. It was his belief that only the elite—the moneyed and educated should exercise the right to vote. In 1821, James Kent, a prominent law professor in New York, argued that if the vote were extended to white men who did not own property, “the indolent and profligate can cast the whole burdens of society upon the industrious and the virtuous.” However, rising support for slavery in the led to an expansion of the right to vote to all white men, propertied or otherwise.
And now, Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and birther champion, is thinking about limiting the vote to property owners. As reported in the New York Times (11/28/16), when Bannon was told that limiting voting to property owners would exclude many African Americans, he responded, “Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.”
Bannon is Trump’s handpicked, right-hand man. He will be whispering into Trump’s ear, shaping the looming administration’s agenda. Voter suppression? . . . we haven’t seen anything yet.
P.S. A great read on the history of voting in America is The Fight To Vote by Michael Waldman. I interviewed him for the Commonwealth Club in April of this year. Here’s a link to the interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8gmpXb36Vk