There were reasons Elizabeth Cady Stanton was somewhat eased off center stage in her later years, and her advocacy of an “educated franchise,” as she put forth in this 1898 article, was an unfortunate example.
Divisive at the time, it seems even worse today, given the later history of outrageous “literacy tests” used to block Black voters in the South.
It’s not that she’s wrong but that the goal cannot be fairly achieved.
The literacy tests were an intentional misuse of the concept, but attempts to define responsible voters in post-colonial America were an equal failure, assuming that things like owning land were signs of intelligence, not to mention states that assumed women and people of color could not responsibly vote. (Historic Note: Those limitations were imposed by states and were never in the Constitution.)
Anyway, Stanton wasn’t wrong, just impractical.
So here’s Marjorie Taylor Greene, defending our nation’s history by thinking the Wilder Monument honors Confederate soldiers.
She’s free to rhapsodize over the Lost Cause among her fellow Georgians — or at least the ones who weren’t enslaved by her heroes — but how much intelligence does it take to read the plaque on that monument and see that honors a Union brigade?
And if you aren’t able to read it, could you not at least be bright enough to notice the color of Wilder’s uniform and realize which side he was on?
Dave Coverly makes a relevant point in this Speed Bump (Creators), in that our media is so divided that what you know, or what you think you know, depends on which side of the aisle you get your news from.
The old days when Daniel Patrick Moynihan could say “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts” seem quaint in a world in which whatever facts you prefer are available for you.
Including that the Confederates wore blue, if it advances your pledge to defend our nation’s history.
Remember how we laughed when Kellyanne Conway invented the absurd notion of “alternative facts”?
Well, who’s laughing now, when, as Clay Jones notes, more MAGA candidates announce ahead of time that they can only lose if there is fraud?
Just as MTG’s faithful will ignore the fact that they’ve always known the North wore blue, and just as Herschel Walker’s supporters will ignore his conflicting cascade of alternative realities, there is a substantial bloc of voters — not all of them Republicans — who ignore all the investigations and inspections and fact-checks and continue to believe in massive election fraud, not just as a danger or a possibility but as a fact.
As the fellow in this Joel Pett cartoon cheerfully explains, deciding whom to vote for is largely a matter of absorbing what you want to hear based on what you want to believe and not confusing yourself over policies and logical consistency and constitutional values.
I particularly like that Pett put these foolish words in the mouth of a hipster, since it’s far too easy to assume the problem is confined to toothless, truck-driving hillbillies.
Ignorant people can indeed grow an almost-beard and drink overpriced coffee.
In fact, as Steve Brodner points out, three of our nation’s most prominent fools are wealthy, urban, educated people, with Trump and Musk graduates of the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution, and West the product of an elite Waldorf school.
In the fable, the ass who wore a lion’s skin frightened everyone until he started braying, but that was a long time ago and people are less discerning today.
As for those alleged “hillbillies,” they’re not all fools but, Paul Fell points out, they often live a long way from a place where they can obtain identification to be allowed to vote.
I don’t mind driving 25 miles to the nearest DMV office, but I already have a car and a driver’s license.
There’s no city-to-city public transportation out here, and so, in effect, a voter ID law means a substantial number of poor people won’t be allowed to vote.
As well as people who can’t take a day off in the middle of the week.
Even if someone gives you a ride, you won’t get there, stand in line and get back on your lunch hour.
There is, of course, no voter suppression going on, despite Kevin Necessary’s accusation, nor is there unfair redistricting happening. Ask any Republican.
And it’s not just the GOP who will confirm it. The Supreme Court has declared that there is no further need for most of the Voting Rights Act, and is about to rule on partisan redistricting.
I like RBG’s reasoning in her dissent to Shelby v Holder, by the way:
But I wish she’d retired sooner, because the McConnell Court is just about plumb out of justices who understand why umbrellas matter.
But, again, the problem is not the Republicans or even the Courts, but, rather, voter ignorance, and unwillingness, as Matt Wuerker (Politico) points out, to look beyond their own noses or into the next year rather than the next week.
As with their refusal to look at all the proof against voter fraud, they are equally reluctant to look at what causes inflation or higher gas prices, or to wonder, if it’s all the fault of Joe Biden and the Democrats, why it’s also happening in every other Western nation, and often worse than here?
Nor, when the Republicans cast that blame, do voters have the sense of the fellow in this Mike Smith (KFS) cartoon, to ask, “So what would you do about it?”
While they proclaim every move Biden made to be wrong, nobody seems to offer the right answer they’d implement once they were in power.
And, despite Patrick Bagley’s depiction of resisting seniors, when Republicans do make a proposal like cutting back Social Security and Medicare, or changing eligibility for them, or passing a federal anti-abortion law, it quickly disappears, denied by other Republicans or shrouded in vague disclaimers.
So here we are. The problem Stanton pointed out nearly 125 years ago persists, and we have found no fair and equitable solution to ignorant voters.
Perhaps, as Dave Whamond suggests, like alcoholics and addicts, we simply need to hit rock bottom.
7 thoughts on “CSotD: The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Dilemma”
In regards to your comments on Marjorie Taylor Greene, there were times that Confederates wore blue. I believe (but I may be mistaken) that at the battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg rebel troops showed up wearing brand new blue uniforms because they had just raided Harper’s Ferry, and had thrown away what was left of their gray uniforms.
Brodner, not Bramhall, on the 3 Stooges one.
Thanks, Mark. I think they’re even in the name-swaps at this point. (Fixed)
Robert, they also wore butternut and the Union had Zoave regiments, but I think when you see a soldier in blue, it behooves a moderately intelligent person to at least read the plaque, particularly with all the references to “The Blue and the Gray” in pop culture about the war, never mind actual history.
Assuming a moderately intelligent person wouldn’t want to take 90 seconds to read the plaque anyway. A long trip to go away without learning anything.
Sadly this will not mean much to her district. Wish it did.
And the Rebs wore blue when they took some of the unies off dead Yanks because their own were in tatters. But of course, many folks would also READ THE DAMN PLAQUE , not only look at the purty pitchers.
Brilliant, as always Mike.
Your daily commentary on history, politics and culture should be required reading by all Americans!
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