Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American

Why are left-wing activist groups so keen on registering the poor to vote?

Because they know the poor can be counted on to vote themselves more benefits by electing redistributionist politicians.  Welfare recipients are particularly open to demagoguery and bribery. 

Registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals.  It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country -- which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote. 

A decade before the Motor-Voter law that required states to register voters at welfare offices was enacted, NAACP official Joe Madison explained the political economy of voter registration drives.

"When people are standing in line to get cheese and butter or unemployment compensation, you don't have to tell them how to vote," said Madison, now a radio talk show host in Washington, D.C.  "They know how to vote."

Like Madison, Barack Obama grasped this basic truth when he worked for ACORN's Project Vote affiliate in 1992.

"All our people must know that politics and voting affects their lives directly," the future president said.  "If we're registering people in public housing, for an example, we talk about aid cuts and who's responsible."

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.  It's about raw so-called social justice.  It's about moving America ever farther away from the small-government ideals of the Founding Fathers.

Registering the unproductive to vote is an idea that was heavily promoted by the small-c communists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, as I write in my new book, Subversion Inc.: How Obama's ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers.

In an infamous 1966 Nation magazine article, the radical university professors urged that the welfare apparatus be used to destroy the American system.  Borrowing a phrase the ultra-leftist Leon Trotsky used in one of his many anti-Stalin tracts, The Platform of the Joint Opposition (1927), they titled their blueprint for radical change "The Weight of the Poor."

By "weight," Cloward, Piven, and Trotsky meant power or influence.  All three wanted to use the poor as a battering ram against the systems they sought to overthrow.

Trotsky thought too many bureaucrats and middle-class people were involved in the Soviet Communist Party and that it was moving too slowly in its efforts to change that society.  He wanted more poor people in the party in order to overthrow Stalin's obstructionist bureaucracy and clear the way for "true" communism.

Stateside, Cloward and Piven wanted to use the "weight" of the poor to bring down American capitalism and democracy.

These apostles of depravity proposed swamping the welfare rolls of states and localities by encouraging people to exercise their welfare "rights" by applying for public benefits.  The theory was that newly cash-strapped state and local governments would demand a bailout from Congress.  The fiscal rescue package would take the form of a European-style guaranteed annual income scheme that would drive America well down the road to full-blown socialism.

Enlisting the organizing expertise of Saul Alinsky and other veteran community organizers, Cloward and Piven created ACORN's parent organization, the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), to execute their plan.

The Cloward-Piven Strategy almost succeeded.

Liberal Republican governors such as New York's Nelson Rockefeller and Michigan's George Romney quickly surrendered under steady assault from NWRO organizers.  Burgeoning welfare caseloads brought New York City to the brink of bankruptcy in the 1970s, a fact acknowledged two decades later by then-mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani blamed the "perverted social philosophy" of Cloward and Piven.  "New York City viewed welfare as a good thing, as a wonderful thing.  They romanticized it and embraced a philosophy of dependency."

Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, political support grew for a guaranteed annual income plan.  President Nixon supported the proposal and it came within a hair's breadth of passing Congress in 1972.

The movement was aided by Goldberg v. Kelly, a monstrously wrongheaded piece of judge-made law.  In the landmark 1970 decision, the Supreme Court ruled 5 to 3 that the "brutal need" of a poor welfare recipient outweighed society's interest in trying to prevent welfare fraud.

Goldberg stated that welfare recipients were entitled to an evidentiary hearing before an impartial decision-maker at which they could call and confront witnesses.  They were also entitled to receive a written, reasoned opinion before being deprived of benefits.

The court absurdly declared that a welfare recipient had a "property" interest in welfare and that this interest deserved due process protections when the government wanted to take that so-called property away.  With the ruling, welfare effectively ceased to be a gratuity that could be granted and withdrawn at the discretion of the government.

The liberal Justice William Brennan considered Goldberg to be the most momentous decision of his career on the high court bench, according to David Frum in How We Got Here: the 70's, the Decade that Brought You Modern Life -- For Better or Worse.  Brennan was "quite right," Frum observed.

In the end Cloward and Piven didn't get exactly what they wanted, but they knew they were onto something.

Their next step was outlined in a 1983 article titled "Toward a Class-Based Realignment of American Politics: A Movement Strategy," which ran in ACORN's magazine, Social Policy.  The two professors might as well have named it "The Weight of the Poor -- Part Two."

This new iteration of their strategy called for the continued use of the poor as a cudgel against the American system.  The unregistered poor were "rocks lyin' around," said Jesse Jackson during his ACORN-endorsed presidential run in 1984.

The Marxist duo said "massive numbers of new voters" had to be registered.

[E]nlisting millions of new and politicized voters is the way to create an electoral environment hospitable to fundamental change in American society.  An enlarged and politicized electorate will sustain and encourage the movements in American society that are already working for the rights of women and minorities, for the protection of the social programs, and for transformation of foreign policy.  Equally important, an enlarged and politicized electorate will foster and protect future mass movements from the bottom that the ongoing economic crisis is likely to generate, thus opening American politics to solutions to the economic crisis that express the interests of the lower strata of the population ... The objective is to accelerate the dealigning forces already at work in American politics, and to promote party realignment along class lines.

Cloward and Piven's long campaign to bring vast numbers of unproductive people into the political process culminated in the 1993 enactment of the Motor-Voter law.  That law turned welfare offices into voter registration centers and encouraged nonprofit groups to conduct registration drives.  It also opened the door to massive voter fraud.

The Founders anticipated redistributionist attacks on the Constitution.  As Benjamin Franklin supposedly said, "When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."

With the help of Cloward, Piven, Alinsky, and Obama, we're well on our way.

Matthew Vadum is an investigative journalist in Washington, D.C. His new book, Subversion Inc., was published in May.

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