Wow, keep it up tea partiers. This is really stunning. A 15-year old student asks a legitimate question about voting rights and is completely ripped on by Bill O'Brien, New Hampshire's Speaker of the House. Way to alienate young people from
October 31, 2011

Wow, keep it up tea partiers. This is really stunning. A 15-year old student asks a legitimate question about voting rights and is completely ripped on by Bill O'Brien, New Hampshire's Speaker of the House. Way to alienate young people from conservatism there, Billy-boy.

Here's the backstory, from "michael" on Blue Hampshire:

However, this is when I lifted my hand and asked my question. I asked him about the aforementioned quote about students and whether or not he believed that there should be a litmus test based on ideology determining who gets to vote easily and conveniently. His response was not to answer the question I quite politely posed, but to start speaking in a rather untoward, declamatory manner about how I "demonized" him and how liberals "demonize" conservatives instead of talking about the important issues of the day- namely, supporting business, lowering taxes, cutting spending and family values. He then went on to distemperately rant about Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals", bitterly implying that I, a flipping fifteen year old, am a Communist subversive, sandwiched between lines about me demonizing Republicans.

I think it's worth reading the transcript of Michael's question:

First, you mentioned in a conversation with several Tea Party members at a Tea Party meeting that you wanted a law passed that would stop out-of-state students from voting in New Hampshire because, quote -- Students, when they're in college -- I'm paraphrasing here -- Students, when they're in college, they're sitting around, they're voting their feelings, they're being foolish, they're voting liberal.

What is the threshold for when someone can actually exercise their Constitutional right to vote? Is someone's ideology supposed to be a litmus test? Or age, when it's Constitutionally allowed, intended on being a litmus test on who can vote? I mean --

OBRIEN: No, no, no. What's your second question? There's a series of questions. What's your second question?

What do you think, C&L readers? Fair question? I think so, particularly in light of the ongoing war on voting happening around this country, courtesy of the Tea Party and conservatives.

But the answer is just...well, it's like Glenn Beck's more-evil twin was sitting at the front of the room.

OBRIEN: You know there's a [unintelligible] thread in all of this. Namely Saul Alinsky. And Saul Alinsky realized that something -- you know, he was a Marxist back in the 40s, 50s and 60s. He realized something. He realized that the United States would never, never turn socialist. And so he thought to himself, how do I get socialism? And so he wrote this book that still [unintelligible]...he operated out of Chicago and he wrote this book and it's called "Rules for Radicals." And the Rules for Radical work never taught any substantive issues with conservative politicians. Try to demonize them, try to marginalize them, try to radicalize them, make them something strange and different and exotic.

And so we see among conservative Republican leaders in this country a constant effort to try to marginalize them. You know, Sarah Palin's, not a leader, she's not educated well, and Newt Gingrich is kind of a fat guy, and Herman Cain is -- you know.

What we find is that people want to talk about issues like that, rather than issues that are important to our state.

In fact, I was joking around with some people talking about voter ID and voter laws and having a joke with people, and that's all they want to talk about. Marginalize this guy, make sure that his conservative agenda isn't being talked about. Let's not talk about the substantive issues of overtaxing. Let's not talk about the issues of bringing jobs and affordable government back here. Let's see if we can just marginalize him.

And that's what you're doing.

Yes, Alice, you've fallen down the conservative rabbit hole into that other place where they do what they say others do. That would be the conservative rabbit hole with the unending assault on anyone who disagrees, the turning-around of a substantive question by conjuring forth Saul Alinsky from the corridors of the dead to distract, deflect, and otherwise ignore a reasonable question by a soon-to-be voting citizen of this great country.

Let me see if I can actually pull the substance away from the fiction. Evidently Mr. O'Brien was heard to say that he didn't think students should vote because they vote liberal. Mr. O'Brien doesn't like liberals very much. Therefore, he feels that it's his duty to remove their constitutionally guaranteed voting rights from them.

Do watch the video past the transcription, where another student stands up, outraged that Mr. O'Brien is marginalizing him and his right to vote coming up in a few years. It will restore your faith in humanity, at least, a little bit.

This video is a remarkable sleight-of-hand on Mr. O'Brien's part. Even when confronted with the vote in New Hampshire's House of Representatives which would have disenfranchised student voters there, O'Brien ducks the real question and chooses instead to launch an attack on the person asking it, as though the question itself were simply justification to trash liberals rather than actually address a legitimate concern.

In fact, that concern is more than well-founded. The first version of New Hampshire's Voter ID bill was vetoed by the Governor, prompting a second version to be put forward in the House of Representatives. This is the bill michael is asking about. Via PeoplesWorld:

According to their detractors, New Hampshire Republican leaders are part of what is called a corporate-driven Republican national agenda. The American Legislative Exchange Council, which, according to the American Association for Justice, operates as " the ultimate smoke-filled back room," is seen to have its hands in New Hampshire politics. In August, Granite State Progress called on New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O'Brien to release a list of state legislators who had attended ALEC's recent conference.

The voter ID drive in New Hampshire is itself far from dead, however. Republicans in the state's House of Representatives plan to revive it, possibly entering a new bill as early as Weds.

The original bill was drafted in the State Senate, more right leaning than the House, and did not include the provision allowing people those without photo ID to cast provisional ballots. However, the House, in passing its version of the bill, added the rule.

Fortunately it sounds as though the Governor will backstop any bill that's more to the right than the one he already vetoed, but given the push by O'Brien and his House of Representatives, it sounds like Michael asked a question regarding a substantial and far-reaching policy issue, only to be demonized, Alinsky-style.

Shame on Speaker O'Brien, and kudos to Michael and his friends for standing up for their rights and putting up with that barrage of verbal abuse.

[h/t Daily Kos]

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