Elisabeth Hasselbeck is very disturbed over Americans’ ignorance about civics. But rather than push for better civics education, Hasselbeck’s “solution” is to restrict voting rights to those who can pass a test. The not-so-funny thing is that Hasselbeck either missed the irony or was too ignorant about civics, herself, to know that such a test was banned by the Voting Rights Act.
The discussion on this morning’s Fox & Friends purported to be about measures to require students to pass citizenship tests in order to graduate high school. But Hasselbeck took it upon herself to “take it one step further” and “just ask” if such a test should be given to voters.
Guest Whitney Neal, of the Bill of Rights Institute, argued for better education about civics, not testing. She thought “engaging kids with civics and with government” a much better plan.
Chilean-born guest Lorena Riffo-Jenson, of the Utah Civics Education Initiative, thought we should do “everything that we can to engage our new generation of students so they can be involved in civics.” In her opinion, a test would “create an incredible conversation among family members” and would be “a good step.”
But Hasselbeck was too busy thinking of ways to impose tests on voters to spend much time thinking about educating students beforehand. She asked her guests:
What about if we took it one step further, as I just mentioned, into voting? Should you have to answer – I mean, the majority of these questions, if not graduation of high school, but by the time you vote?
Or to put it another way, who cares if our kids graduate from high school ignorant? Just keep them from voting!
Neal said she knows a lot of people who score perfectly on driving tests but are not good drivers. She reiterated that civics education should be the priority.
Riffo-Jenson, however, gave a thumbs up to Hasselbeck’s proposal: “Anything that you can do to ensure that our young people and families are involved in civic learnings, the history of our country is a positive and furthermore, I think, how can you go into planning what a generation will do in the future if you’re not prepared and understand where we have been? Personally, I’ve taken my daughters to voting with me and I think it’s critical. You cannot be engaged without having the full knowledge and understanding of your nation.”
“Well, it’s a more meaningful measure when you vote, perhaps, too,” Hasselbeck said. It wasn't clear to me whether Hasselbeck was referring to the “meaningfulness” of Riffo-Jenson bringing her daughters into the voting booth or imposing a test, or both.
Regardless, Hasselbeck's ultimate intent was clear: “When you look at how many people get those (basic civics questions) answers wrong, how concerning is it to you that those very people are voting?" she "asked."
But here’s the irony: Besides the anti-American values reflected in Hasselbeck’s thinking, her suggestion shows her own lack of understanding of American civics. From Salon.com:
There actually has been such a test, a so-called literacy test, which was eventually banned by the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The test was theoretically to be given to people of all races, but was disproportionately given to black potential voters in order to disenfranchise them. A few of the tests are available, and the wording of the questions are deliberately confusing and obtuse in such a way that even highly educated people would not necessarily do well.
Watch the video below, via Raw Story, from today’s Fox & Friends, and see why maybe Hasselbeck should go back to school or be prevented from voting, herself.
It’s concerning to me that Hasselbeck actually thinks this way considering she’s a talking-points readin’ cheerleader for a GOP network whose viewers have been shown to be (via polls) the most misinformed/uninformed audience out there. Hey, Lizzie, how about you and FOX “news” clean up your own misinformation cesspool before you start yammering about others.
Rather than teaching more civics to kids, it would do more good to teach them that it is an individual’s civic responsibility to be an educated voter. To teach them about direct consequences of uninformed voting. And there are many of those—no need to even get political about it. My own city voted for a children’s hospital on a day when 6% of the electorate voted. A little over 3% of voters actually voted for it. It’s been a real economic disaster, and most citizens of this city can just blame themselves for it.
I’m gonna do something I rarely do: I’m gonna agree with you.
I wholeheartedly endorse imposing a literacy test for voting — for two reasons:
1) I figure such a test would disqualify most, if not all, of the redneck, inbred, tea-billies who voted their kind into Congress, rendering it inoperable. Ban them from voting and we won’t suffer their stupidity again.
2) As part of legislation that permits literacy/civics tests as a precondition for voting, let’s also attach a provision that, as a precondition for owning a firearm, all prospective firearm owners must pass both background and mental health tests — and any subsequent arms purchases must be registered.
Hey — if we’re gonna attach a precondition prior to the exercise of one inalienable right (voting), we should easily be able to attach some preconditions prior to the exercise of another one (bearing arms.)
How’s that grab you, Liz?