We Are The Change We Seek
"i got this" - Kenny Wyland

This isn't where I thought I was going to be when I looked forward into my life, but here I am....

Yes We Can

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (18)
Share on Facebook

Civics or Literacy Test for Voting

Recently Tom Tancredo said something stupid about Obama and called for a civics and literacy test to be allowed to vote

Tancredo told the audience that the country had elected "a committed socialist ideologue in the White House" because "we do not have a civics, literary test before people can vote in this country."

First, let me get the stupid out of the way. Obama is neither a socialist nor an ideologue. That's just stupid Tea Party nonsense.

Now to the real meat... a lot of people are up in arms about the call for the return of a literacy test for voting. This is because a civics test (which obviously required reading, so it's a literacy test as well) was used in many southern states to prevent blacks from being able to vote. Before the Civil Rights Movement many blacks in the South were unable to get a good education and learn to read, so it was an easy way to keep them from getting any political power. You can read more about it at Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement where they have sample questions that were asked at the time.

So, a former Republican Congressman calls for the civics/literacy test to return and does so in a southern state and people are understandably pissed. His assertion that the only reason Obama is President is because illiterate and uneducated people voted for him is a stupid assertion and I don't mind him being ridiculed for it. However... While we still haven't made it to true equality, our educational system is orders of magnitude better and more fair than it was in the 50s and 60s. People of all races have access to an education. Many urban schools with very poor funding don't do a great job of teaching, but it's not like it was pre-Civil Rights Movement.

So, is a civics test really all that bad of an idea? It was USED for evil back in the 50s and 60s, but the idea itself isn't bad. I think a lot of Americans take our country and our government for granted and would be benefitted a great deal if they needed to understand something about the government before voting. When immigrants come to the US and proceed through the naturalization process they are required to take a citizenship test which I think 90% of American citizens would fail. It's a shame that natural-born citizens know so much less about our country than naturalized citizens.

What would be the effect of a civics test for voting? Well, the number of people voting would drop even further. Is that a bad thing? Yes and no. Yes, it's a bad thing that people won't be involved in their government. It's a shame that so few people vote as it is. No, it's not a bad thing because the people who will be dropped will generally be people who aren't aware of their actions as a voter.

Who will it effect? Don't for a second think that I believe this will be good for Democrats specifically or good for Republicans. I think plenty on both sides of that fence will fail the test. My gut tells me that independent voters may fare the test better than the Two Parties. I think the test should be available in many different languages, just like voting ballots are available. It shouldn't be an English literacy test, it should be a Civics test. I would even be happy with a verbal Civics test for those who cannot read. It's not the literacy I'm interested in, it's an understanding of the government (which will probably be incredibly tightly combined, but it's still the principle).

I think liberals are up in arms about this for good and bad reasons. The good reasons surround the history of the literacy tests, but again I think we've moved forward and can probably do it without making it a weapon. The bad reasons are generally because it was a conservative who brought it up and made it worse by couching it in an ignorant and insulting statement.

Read/Post Comments (18)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 JournalScape.com. All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.