I am as tired of being hit over the head with the Constitution by Tea Partiers, as I was being whacked with the King James Version of the Bible by those conservatives in religious circles I have passed through in my life.
I read this earlier this week in Newsweek, in an article titled ‘
’s Holy Writ (How Teapartier’s Got It Wrong)’. America
“‘When Barack Obama took office, experts rushed to declare an end to the old battles over race, religion, and reproductive rights—whether because of Obama’s alleged healing powers, or the Great Recession, or both. But these analyses ignored an important reality: at heart, the culture wars were really never about anything as specific as abortion or gay marriage. Instead, as James Davison Hunter wrote in Culture Wars, the book that popularized the term, the conflicts of the 1990s represented something bigger: “a struggle over…who we have been...who we are now, and...who we, as a nation, will aspire” to be. Such conflicts, Hunter explained, pit “orthodox” Americans, who like the way things were, against their more “progressive” peers, who are comfortable with the way things are becoming.
For the forces of orthodoxy, the election of a black, urban, liberal Democrat with a Muslim name wasn’t a panacea at all; it was a provocation. So when the recession hit, and new economic anxieties displaced the lingering social concerns of the Clinton era, political fundamentalists sought refuge in a more relevant scripture—one that could still be made to accommodate the simpler, surer past they longed for but happened to dwell on taxes and government instead of sinning and being saved.’” [emphasis mine]
I have come to believe it’s not about the Constitution (or the Bible), because I see now, as I saw then, a certain ‘cherry picking’ going on.
Those that heaved out their Bibles to denounce women in leadership (then, and perhaps the acceptance of gays now) kindly looked over those scriptures addressing slavery, cutting of hair, and certain laws regarding how ownership of property is handled. Also, the obligatory tithe off the top of one’s income to one’s house of worship is almost always skipped over. Not always, but very, very often. I know. I was once the wife of a minister.
And now, in likewise fashion, I am being beaten about the head and shoulders by those who do not like what has happened in the past two years in
. It is said that the actions of our elected leaders is not what the Founding Fathers intended, and indeed, is unconstitutional. We need a return to the basics of that revered document. Washington
Make no mistake. I revere the Constitution, and believe that Adams and Madison and Jefferson and Franklin were amazing, intelligent, and visionary individuals that pulled off an incredible feat in forming this embryonic nation with farsightedness and intellectualism that humbles me.
And by necessity, I believe we have built on that document. Less than 150 years ago, we had to spell out that slavery was against the laws of this country (Amendment 13). And only 140 years ago, it was noted that race was not to be used as a bar to voting (Amendment 15).
It was only 90 years ago this document was changed to give women the right to vote (Amendment 19). And less than 50 years ago, this document spelled out a law against poll taxes, leveling the playing field for ‘less than wealthy’ voters (Amendment 24).
All of these events moved this country out of a comfort zone and closer to what we aspire to be. All of these events were met with calls of derision by those who took the change uneasily, or just plain felt the change. Mostly people don’t like change. I sure didn’t, when the X took his leave. My whole apple cart was upset. I understand this reticence.
But my little recitation here begs a question. If we are going to hearken back to the Constitution, as our founding fathers envisioned it, are we talking just going back a couple years? I might suggest some constitutionality issues the Bush administration had with search and seizure (Amendment 4) and right to a speedy trial (Amendment 6). Those don’t seem to get much press these days.
Do the Tea Partiers wish to take the Constitution back beyond Civil Rights? Perhaps take back my right to vote and to own property?
Or perhaps like Clarence Thomas (and we are not even going to go there, my friends…especially today…). From the same article as I quoted above, ‘Thomas sympathizes with a radical version of originalism known as the Constitution in Exile. In his view, the Supreme Court of the 1930s unwisely discarded the 19th-century’s strict judicial limits on Federal power, and the only way to resurrect the “original” Constitution—and regain our unalienable rights—is by rolling back the welfare state, repealing regulations, and perhaps even putting an end to progressive taxation….As Cass Sunstein, a centrist legal scholar at the University of Chicago who now serves in the Obama administration, has explained, “many decisions of the Federal Communications Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and possibly the National Labor Relations Board would be [ruled] unconstitutional” if Thomas got his way. Social Security could be eliminated. Same goes for the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve. Individual states might be allowed to establish official religions. Even minimum-wage and maximum-hour laws would be jeopardized. [emphasis mine]
I am betting Tea Partiers do not wish to hearken back to a pre-social security, pre-medicare constitution. Which is another thing…
Those that have their government provided healthcare all tied up in a nice tidy package, paid for by taxes, cannot seem to see how that is government run healthcare. And those that are screaming about how health insurance premiums are going up this year, are not relating to the fact that the rise in health insurance premiums have effectively taken away all raises, and eaten away at our standard of living for the past decade and a half.
I think I have now completed my political discourse, inadequate as it may be. I am a chemist, not a political scientist. However...
Separation of church and state? Amendment 1, people.
Separation of church and state? Amendment 1, people.