Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) has already made quite a name for himself after just 17 months in Congress, but yesterday, Right Wing Watch published arguably the most striking quote yet for the Tea Party congressman’s greatest-hits list.
Recently unearthed footage of Rep. Ted Yoho speaking at Berean Baptist Church in Ocala, Florida, during his candidacy for Congress in the 2012 election cycle shows the Republican politician suggesting that only property owners should have the right to vote.“I’ve had some radical ideas about voting and it’s probably not a good time to tell them, but you used to have to be a property owner to vote,” he said to applause.
The part about the applause isn’t an exaggeration – there’s video showing exactly that.
A Yoho spokesperson told msnbc yesterday, “The congressman was making a reference to how voting was structured when America was in its infancy (from a historical perspective). He does not believe that this is the way it should be now.”
And while that’s reassuring, listening to Yoho in the 2012 video, his reference connecting property ownership and voting rights didn’t quite sound like criticism, either.
Zachary Roth added:
Yoho’s comments on voting are firmly within the tradition of conservative thinking on the franchise, which sees it less as a right and more as a tool to make an informed decision about government.Versions of that notion were used to justify restricting the vote to property owners in the republic’s early days, as well as later voting restrictions like literacy requirements. EEven in the 21st century, Yoho is far from alone among prominent conservatives in suggesting that voting should be made more difficult in order to produce a better-informed electorate.
In this case, the congressman isn’t even alone among conservatives suggesting voting rights be connected to wealth. In February, Tom Perkins, a very wealthy venture capitalist who compared contemporary American progressives to Nazis, gave a speech that argued along similar lines.
When challenged to say, in 60 seconds, how he would change the world, Perkins made a playfully controversial response. He suggested that, in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson’s voting land owners and Margaret Thatcher’s idea of only allowing taxpayers to vote, “The Tom Perkins system is: You don’t get the vote if you don’t pay a dollar in taxes. But what I really think is it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars, you get a million votes. How’s that?” To which the audience responded with laughter.
It wasn’t long ago that those who expect to be taken seriously in modern American life would avoid rhetoric like this.