On August 29, 2016, right-wing radio host Wayne Allyn Root, the Master of Ceremonies at Donald Trump’s political rallies, appeared on fellow conservative Rob Schilling’s radio program and with great gushing gusto, recommended an electoral strategy for Republicans:
“If the people who paid the taxes were the only ones allowed to vote, we’d have landslide victories! But you’re allowing people to vote! This explains everything! People with conflict of interest shouldn’t be allowed to vote! If you collect welfare, you have no right to vote! The day you get off welfare, you get your voting rights back! The reality is, why are you allowed to have this conflict of interest that you vote for the politician who wants to keep your welfare checks coming and your food stamps and your aid to dependent children and your free health care and your Medicaid, your Medicare and your Social Security and everything else? And by the way, Social Security shouldn’t count because it’s not really an entitlement, ’cause you paid in to get the money out, but in general, most of the things I just rattled off should preclude you from voting. Social Security should not, Medicare should not, because you paid into the system, but all the other stuff, all the other goodies, free Obama phones, free contraception, you know what, you can get them but you shouldn’t be allowed to vote! it’s a conflict of interest! Take that away, we’d win every single election in this country!”
Obviously, Wayne Allyn Root is less concerned with liberty and justice for all than with privileged white people maintaining social dominance in the United States, despite the fact that the first section of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution declares:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
He also doesn’t understand that a law banning welfare recipients from voting because of their inability to pay federal taxes effectively turns the income tax into a poll tax. This, in and of itself is unconstitutional, as it effectively puts a monetary price on a vital method of free speech, which is why in 1964, the states ratified the 24th Amendment, which explicitly reads:
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.”
Appropriately, at the ceremonies formalizing the ratification of the 24th Amendment that February, President Lyndon Baines Johnson declared:
“Today, the people of this land have abolished the poll tax as a condition to voting. By this act they have reaffirmed the simple but unbreakable theme of this Republic. Nothing is so valuable as liberty, and nothing is so necessary to liberty as the freedom to vote without bans or barriers.
“Our Constitution in its 175-year lifetime has been amended but 14 times following the ratification of the Bill of Rights. A change in our Constitution is a serious event. The beneficiaries of this amendment are the people of this land.
“There can now be no one too poor to vote. There is no longer a tax on his rights. The only enemy to voting that we face today is indifference. Too many of our citizens treat casually what other people in other lands are ready to die for.
“Less than two-thirds of our eligible population cast ballots in the 1960 presidential election. Perhaps this specific act of firm resolve will turn negligence into interest. I pray that this is so.”
Featured image: Wayne Allyn Root (Gage Skidmore via Flickr).