Tea Party Nation Prez Wants to 'Rewrite' Constitution; Thinks Allowing Only Landowners to Vote 'Makes Sense'
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"The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote. It wasn't you were just a citizen and you got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you're a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you're not a property owner, you know, I'm sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners."
Now, it's a little unfair, as some sites have reported, to say that Phillips was advocating that position for the present time. He was, as I hear it, saying that restricting voting rights to property owners "made sense" for the time, in his view. Which is troubling enough.
But when DeGerolamo suggested that voting be reserved today as a right for those "who pay taxes," Phillips seemed to be totally down with that.
It's important to note what Tea Partiers mean when they talk about those who "pay taxes" -- they generally mean income tax. If that's what DeGerolamo means, what he's saying is that poor people, who pay payroll taxes for their future Social Security and Medicare, would not be allowed to vote, because their earnings fall below the line of taxable income.
And why stop there? DeGerolamo, whose North Carolina Freedom is a chapter of the FreedomWorks-allied Tea Party Patriots, suggests repealing the 14th Amendment, which gave the freed slaves the right of citizenship, and which confers birthright citizenship on all Americans.
Phillips wants to repeal the 16th and 17th amendments, which respectively created the federal income tax and changed the election of the Senate to direct popular vote. (Senators used to be elected by state legislatures.) Phillips also wants to repeal the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18.
Even DeGerolamo had a problem with that last one, seeing as that would prohibit a significant portion of the military from voting.
Some on the Right will say that Phillips' views don't reflect the main of the Tea Party movement, but I just witnessed a live chat sponsored by FreedomWorks, the big astroturf group chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, in which participants called for disallowing anyone "receiving a welfare check" from voting, and one other called for the repeal of the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery and indentured servitude.
Tea Party Nation is, according to Bill Berkowitz at BuzzFlash, the third largest Tea Party social network, with more 31,000 members. It's the organization that sponsored the Tea Party Nation Convention at which Sarah Palin spoke last year (for a reportedly six-figure fee) -- the same convention at which Tom Tancredo, recently defeated in a third-party bid for Colorado's governor's mansion, called for literacy tests for voting rights. Berkowitz's piece features an interview with Devin Burnhart, who examines some of the core beliefs of Judson Phillips and Tea Party nationalists.
With their big wins in state legislatures and Congress last month, Tea Party leaders and their followers are feeling emboldened to say just what they mean: that the poor are not real Americans, and deserve no place at the table; that the Constitution is insufficiently beholden to corporations and mob rule, and needs to be rewritten; that people with brown skin should be held to a different standard than those with white skin.
No further proof needed: For at least some of its followers, the Tea Party movement's mission is the maintenance of privilege for white people with land.