Initially, when I heard Tea Party leader Judson Philips felt that renters shouldn't have the right to vote, I wondered what "The Rent Is Too Damn High" Party's Jimmy McMillan would say about that. Then I realized he's too busy peddling his action figures and soliciting dates to really care.
On a Tea Party Nation radio show, Philips alleged:
“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.”
Is this really true? I'm a property owner and I do pay annual taxes, but I'm not voting at every community board meeting, volunteering, or running a non-profit community organization. Last I checked, renters are just as capable of doing all those things as me. Sure, I care about my property value dropping, but I wouldn't say I did anything about it this year. Besides, renters are still paying taxes on their groceries, taxes on their clothes, taxes on their income. I think I'm missing the point here.
Some Founding Fathers Theory nut-jobs would argue that only "white, property-owning males over the age of 21" should have the right to vote because that's how it was in the earliest years of our nation. However, the Founding Fathers themselves argued for states' rights.
By and large, the states did dictate who could and couldn't vote until the 15th amendment was ratified in 1870, declaring: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Still, states like Alabama, Virginia and Mississippi levied poll taxes to limit the "power of the people."
As the wise Benjamin Franklin once said:
"Today a man owns a jackass worth 50 dollars and he is entitled to vote; but before the next election the jackass dies. The man in the mean time has become more experienced, his knowledge of the principles of government, and his acquaintance with mankind, are more extensive, and he is therefore better qualified to make a proper selection of rulers—but the jackass is dead and the man cannot vote. Now gentlemen, pray inform me, in whom is the right of suffrage? In the man or in the jackass?"But perhaps it's not so much about renters as it is about voting bases and xenophobia.