I am shocked! Shocked I tell you! Why didn’t someone think of this earlier? A literacy test before one could vote! Great idea Mr. Tancredo! Oh…wait…there was such a process at one time. Many years ago, until The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Whoaaa. Well I guess Tea partiers are into all things ”retro”, so Tancredo’s suggestion probably seems a fitting idea to them.
Yesterday was the start of the National Tea Party Convention, which is “aimed at bringing the Tea Party Movement leaders together from around the nation for the purpose of networking and supporting the movement’s multiple organizations’ principal goals.” One of the featured speakers during the convention’s kickoff was former Republican congressman Tom Tancredo. 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“:
The opening-night speaker at first ever National Tea Party Convention ripped into President Obama, Sen. John McCain and “the cult of multiculturalism,” asserting that Obama was elected because “we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country.”
The speaker, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., told about 600 delegates in a Nashville, Tenn., ballroom that in the 2008 election, America “put a committed socialist ideologue in the White House … Barack Hussein Obama.”
Southern states used literacy tests as part of an effort to deny suffrage to African American voters prior to Johnson-era civil rights laws.
“Prior to passage of the federal Voting Rights Act in 1965, Southern (and some Western) states maintained elaborate voter registration procedures whose primary purpose was to deny the vote to those who were not white,” a website for civil rights veterans explains. “In the South, this process was often called the ‘literacy test.’ In fact, it was much more than a simple test, it was an entire complex system devoted to denying African-Americans (and in some regions, Latinos) the right to vote.”
“Because the Freedom Movement was running “Citizenship Schools” to help people learn how to fill out the forms and pass the test, Alabama changed the test 4 times in less than two years (1964-1965),” the site adds. “At the time of the Selma Voting Rights campaign there were actually 100 different tests in use across the state. In theory, each applicant was supposed to be given one at random from a big loose-leaf binder. In real life, some individual tests were easier than others and the registrar made sure that Black applicants got the hardest ones.”
White applicants could be approved even if they didn’t pass the test.
“Your application was then reviewed by the three-member Board of Registrars — often in secret at a later date,” the site continues. “They voted on whether or not you passed. It was entirely up to the judgment of the Board whether you passed or failed. If you were white and missed every single question they could still pass you if — in their sole judgment — you were ‘qualified.’ If you were Black and got every one correct, they could still flunk you if they considered you ‘unqualified.’”
Tancredo, who is known for his sharp anti-immigrant rhetoric, also attacked what he called the United States’ “cult of multiculturalism,” and tore into 2008 Republican Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
“Thank God John McCain lost the election,” Tancredo told the Tea Party crowd, citing his positions on government spending and immigration.
“This is our country,” he added. “Let’s take it back.”
OMFG! I would contend that these people are batshit crazy to the tenth degree.