A while back, I was watching a debate between conservatives and liberals on the issue of testing for the privilege of voting. I always opposed that, as it seems to me that voting is a fundamental right, which means you can’t impose stipulations, such as passing a test, on it. That was a classic act during the days of Jim Crow; put up so many roadblocks to make it impossible for Blacks to register.
As I watched these two women debate the issue, I achieved a moment of clarity. I saw that the conservative was right; we do need testing.
Why did I reconsider? Simple, the dear woman was getting everything wrong when she spoke about the Constitution. That got me to thinking about the Tea Baggers. I remembered seeing them, back during the fight to pass the Affordable Care Act, holding signs that read: “Keep your government mitts off of my Medicare.”
Back then, I laughed to see such ignorance. Now I see it as the salvation for our great republic. It’s simple, we give everyone who wants to vote a very straightforward test on the Constitution, our history and how our government works.
I’m willing to wager, big money mind you, that about ninety percent of the Tea Baggers would fail that test. I have to wonder, how many of them know Plessy versus Ferguson (segregation upheld on separate but equal basis), Brown versus the Board of Education of Topeka (end to school segregation), and Gideon versus Wainwright (right to legal representation paid for by the state, if necessary)? Could most Tea Party supporters answer simple questions regarding these significant decisions made by the Supreme Court? Other than Roe versus Wade, do they know the monumental Supreme Court decisions of the last two centuries?
How many Tea Baggers know how Congress works, the terms of office and the powers of the various members? I still recall Sarah Palin’s inane response to what are the Vice President’s duties and powers. Do her fellow Tea Baggers believe the same? How about the president do Tea Baggers know his duties and powers or the Cabinet? Technically, there’s nothing in the Constitution that calls for the president to have a Cabinet; it grew over time. How many of them know that?
Do you recall how Palin couldn’t even articulate Paul Revere’s ride, something I’ve known since I was eight-years-old. Tea Baggers don’t know their US History. The test will have questions about that, some of the events concerning the Revolutionary War, the Louisiana Purchase, the Civil War, the Suffragette Movement or the folly of Prohibition also known as the Volstead Act.
Then there are the Amendments. I know the Tea Baggers all know the Second Amendment. They can probably quote it verbatim. What of the First Amendment, though? What might they know of the Fifth Amendment? Even more important, what do they know of the ninth and tenth?
Here are those two. The Ninth Amendment is protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution. In other words, if the Constitution doesn’t specifically state a certain right, that absence is not grounds to deny or disparage others retained by the people. The Tenth Amendment involves Powers of States and people. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, respectively, or to the people.
These Amendments are important. They are a guarantee that the people have more rights than those listed in the Bill of Rights. Yeah, I’d call that important.
In a meritocracy, only the best of the best may serve in government. It’s a privilege, a great honour and the people are deserving of the best representation. Well, based on what I’ve seen of the voters of late, I’m thinking maybe we need to heed the words of Plato, “One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
President Obama likes the idea of making voting mandatory and some conservatives feel that’s intrusive into our private lives. Fine, if that’s what they want, let’s go with the test. I’m ready, got my Number Two pencil sharpened. How do you think you’ll do?
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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