In 2010 Tom Tancredo floated the idea of requiring a civics test for voting. The Left was outraged, and virtually no one on the right defended him (except John Derbyshire, who hadn't been fired from NR yet.) After all, the South used to have literacy tests for voting, and we all know that was racist.
However, now that Trump managed to rout all his GOP rivals despite not giving the usual bromides about The Constitution, cuckservatives are embracing the idea. The Washington Post recently published an Op Ed by the Federalist’s David Harsanyi entitled, “We must weed out ignorant Americans from the electorate.”
Now, if voting is a consecrated rite of democracy, as liberals often argue, surely society can have certain minimal expectations for those participating. And if citizenship itself is as hallowed as Republicans argue, then surely the prospective voter can be asked to know just as much as the prospective citizen. Let’s give voters a test. The citizenship civics test will do just fine.
To those who accuse him of elitism, he notes that
Unlike the many who depend on ignorant voters to wield and secure their power, I refuse to believe that working-class or underprivileged citizens are any less capable of understanding the meaning of the Constitution or the contours of governance than the supercilious 1-percenters.
Harsanyi [Email him] does not mention Trump in his editorial, but it’s clear that he has Trump's voters in mind. Indeed, many cuckservatives understood what he meant.
And I am reminded once again how many Trump supporters are clueless about civics and process… pic.twitter.com/J1OUemAUO7
— TheFOO (@PolitiBunny) May 22, 2016
And when some Trump supporters noted his clear subtext, he responded by accusing them of believing that working class Trump supporters were too stupid to pass a civics test.
yikes. here's another person accusing Trump fans of being unable to pass a simple civics test. https://t.co/H7FBIEKrNN— David Harsanyi (@davidharsanyi) May 23, 2016
another person who doesn't believe the working class is capable of learning basic civics. https://t.co/k0X7wYF3Jb— David Harsanyi (@davidharsanyi) May 23, 2016
I actually do not. Contrary to Harsanyi’s subtext, Trump won GOP voters of all educational backgrounds, and his voters were just as serious as everyone else. Just because Trump and his supporters don’t think quoting the Federalist Papers will solve all our problems does not mean they are any more ignorant.
I don’t have a problem with civics tests in theory. First, the idea that regurgitating the three branches of government or knowing that Martin Luther King was a "great civil rights leader " would lead the Trump or Sanders supporters to embrace Ted Cruz’s constitutional conservatism is stupid.
Instead, the main result of the test would be to disenfranchise blacks who—contrary to Harsanyi’s belief that the “underprivileged” can easily learn civics, have shown a propensity of not performing well on written tests.
Indeed, I think he knows this, and he similarly trolled leftists who accused him of wanting to disenfranchise blacks.
I'm amazed at how many people believe African Americans couldn't pass a civics test. https://t.co/BVsILaQzMc— David Harsanyi (@davidharsanyi) May 21, 2016
I personally do not object to a civics test for voting. However, the Washington Post would never have dared published such an op-ed a year ago, and doing so now shows the pundit class’s growing disdain for the average American voter after defying them to vote for Trump.