From The Grio — Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) thinks that America was on point before 1965. Recently, the hardline conservative — who just became a contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination — expressed his sentiments at the Faith and Freedom Conference in Washington,DC. According to Santorum, things were just fine in the U.S. before the creation of the welfare state. And he claims that President Obama does not believe in American exceptionalism.
“Social conservatives understand that America was a great country because it was founded great,” Santorum told the crowd. “Our founders, calling upon in the Declaration of Independence, the supreme judge, calling upon divine providence, said what was at the heart of American exceptionalism…’We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.'”
“He was talking about Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance, and it was in response to the Ryan budget,” Santorum said, referring to Obama. “And he said this, talking about these three programs: He said ‘America is a better country because of these programs. I will go a one step further: America is a great country because of these programs.”
WATCH MSNBC COVERAGE OF RICK SANTORUM’S PRESIDENTIAL RUN:
“Ladies and gentlemen, America was a great country before 1965,” Santorum added. But was it?
In 1965, in the middle of the civil rights movement, the country was in the midst of eliminating the vestiges of Jim Crow racial segregation, a system that disenfranchised African-Americans. That year, police brutally attacked voting rights protestors during a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The previous year, three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi, where they were registering blacks to vote. President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, which enforced the Fifteenth Amendment that was ratified 95 years earlier.
The act states that “No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” The legislation was special because it allowed for direct federal action to help blacks register to vote. The U.S.Attorney General was now empowered to appoint supervisors to oversee voter registration where literacy tests and other poll tests were in use, or where fewer than half of voting age residents voted or were registered to vote in 1964.
The Voting Rights Act was a perfect complement to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which forbade discrimination by race and gender. The act outlawed discrimination in voter registration and public accommodations, encouraged public school desegregation, and authorized the withholding of federal funds to agencies that discriminate. In addition, Title VII of the act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin in businesses with 15 or more employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established to enforce Title VII.