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Earlier today, Tenants Together, California’s statewide organization for renters’ rights, demanded an apology from Judson Phillips, President of “Tea Party Nation,” for his assertion that restricting voting to property owners “makes a lot of sense.”
Phillips made the comment in his weekly Tea Party radio program:
“The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who got the right to vote. It wasn’t you were just a citizen and you automatically got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of them was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. And if you’re not a property owner, you know, I’m sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested stake in the community than non-property owners do.”
Over 95 million Americans rent their homes. Renters are one third of the U.S. population. When the United States was founded, most states restricted voting to property owners, but these restrictions were phased out in the early 1800s.
“Mr. Phillips owes an apology to the millions of Americans who rent their homes,” stated Dean Preston, Executive Director of Tenants Together, a statewide tenant rights organization in California. California has an estimated 14 million renters. Tenants Together sent a letter today demanding a formal apology from Phillips and the “Tea Party Nation” that he represents.
In addition to criticizing Phillips’ comments, the letter urged action for renters’ rights: “If you think tenants are not sufficiently vested in their communities, perhaps you should support laws to protect tenants from unfair rent increases, arbitrary evictions, and substandard housing conditions that drive tenants out of their homes, rather than proposing an unconstitutional exclusion from the democratic process.”
Tenants Together is also urging political leaders of all parties to publicly condemn Phillips’ proposed disenfranchisement of renters, noting that renters are an integral part of communities across the country and that Phillips’ comments are an affront to millions of Americans.