Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning
While Brad Friedman recently exposed Matthew Vadum to be but the latest in a long line of fraudulent right-wing propagandists who flat-out lie about "voter fraud" as part of the billionaire-funded assault on the right of the those who would be inclined to vote against the GOP, no one could have done more to demolish Vadum's credibility than Matthew Vadum.
"Why are left-wing activist groups so keen on registering the poor to vote?," asks Vadum in the latest of his series of wingnut welfare op-eds/commercials for his laughable new anti-ACORN book:
Registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals
Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn't about helping the poor. It's about helping the poor to help themselves to others' money.
In claiming that the poor are but a "burden" on society and that registering the poor to vote is "like handing out burglary tools to criminals," who seek "to help themselves to others money," Vadum not only advanced long-discredited hard-right ideological beliefs but revealed the abhorrence that the billionaire class and its paid-for propagandists have for democracy, itself...
Vice-into-virtue hard-right ideology
Vadum's views, especially his reference to the poor as the unproductive element of society, is typical of 21st Century right-wing theology --- a blend of 19th Century social Darwinism and Calvinism where wealth accumulation is seen as a reflection of righteousness and the product of natural selection.
Prof. George Lakoff touched upon this in Moral Politics:
country long enough and is not successful has either not worked hard enough or is not talented enough….The rich (who are disciplined and talented enough and who have worked hard enough to become rich) deserve their wealth and the poor (either through lack of industry or talent) deserve their poverty.
But, as the gap between rich and poor has grown to proportions not seen since the 1920s, the rags-to-riches, Horatio Alger story has become, for the vast majority of Americans, an unattainable myth.
While Vadum and friends ascribe to the belief that wealth accumulates in the hands of the worthy --- to those who are of greatest value to society, anyone with a vague familiarity of the wealth accumulated by the banksters and Wall Street executives before their credit default swaps casino crashed; how they looked to the government and monies accumulated from taxes on the middle class to bail them out, knows that nothing could be further from the truth.
In "An undeserved attack on the 'undeserving poor'," Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik recently excoriated the Wall Street Journal for describing the working poor as "lucky duckies" because they were able to avoid paying federal income taxes as the result of "tax credits for things like child care and education." Hiltzik observed, "the Journal's pundits didn't pay any attention to the luckiest duckies of all — wealthy non-taxpayers. The Tax Policy Center calculated that in 2009, about 123,000 tax returns reporting cash income over $200,000 also reported owing zero federal income tax — including 6,000 returns showing income over $1 million."
The hypocrisy extends well beyond the subject of taxes and into what Kevin Phillips describes in Wealth & Democracy as a vice-into-virtue philosophy, which suggests that greed forms the core basis for society and which rejects the very notion of a res publica --- a public interest apart from individual self-interest.
It is a philosophy which is at odds with a fundamental precept of the U.S. Constitution --- that government is formed "to promote the general welfare." It is a hypocritical philosophy which has no qualms about oil industry subsidies, but demands an end to the New Deal Social Safety net.
The product of the hard-right's assault is a calcification of class stratification where birth into the privileged class can prove of far greater importance than hard work.
We are seeing an increasing emergence of an American Aristocracy, whose goal it is to suppress democracy and insure plutocracy. Consider the fact that Vadum writes for The American Spectator, whose hard-right billionaire benefactor, Richard Mellon Scaife, is an heir to the Mellon banking, oil and aluminum fortune.
Then there is David Koch, a principle benefactor of the Tea Party and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the organization organizing the legislative assault on the right to vote via a spate of recent polling place photo ID restriction laws enacted in state after state. He's the son of oil tycoon, Fred C. Koch.
The list could go on, and on.
Democracy, not 'Voter Fraud', is the target of the hard-right
The fact that Vadum has launched a direct assault on the right of the poor to vote should surprise no one.
Consider the colloquy towards the end of Sicko. Michael Moore asked former British MP Tony Benn how the UK developed its national health care system in 1947.
Benn's short answer was "democracy":
Later, Benn added:
If the poor in the US and Britain turned out to vote for people who represent their interests it would be a real democratic revolution…
Benn's remarks reveal why Vadum and his billionaire benefactors hate democracy. Democracy embodies the egalitarian principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence. Vadum and the hard-right are devotees of inequality. While they pay lip service to liberty, the true goal of all their deceit is to keep the common citizen in eternal subjugation.
Poor people should not vote, argues Vadum at the dark heart of his latest anti-democracy screed, because they are likely to vote in their own self-interests. Vadum expresses no such qualms about members of the corporatocracy either voting in favor of their own self-interests, or of those same individuals use their vast (often government-supplied) wealth to keep others from voting at all, or to bastardize the entire democratic process in support of all of the above.
Ironically enough, it is that very same corporatocracy which Vadum relies on to redistribute wealth from the middle class into his own pocket. So it comes as little surprise that he'd argue for anything else. In other words, count on Vadum's vote for his own self-interest. But if you are not as fortunate as him, he'd prefer you kept your opinions --- and your Constitutional rights --- to yourself.
Vadum's position is both un-American and unconstitutional
Setting aside the moral repugnance of Vadum's call to prevent the poor from voting, the plain and simple fact, as established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Harper vs. Virginia Board of Elections (1966), is that Vadum would have us violate the U.S. Constitution.
Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968).