The Trump Republican Party is giddy about the commencement of the next session of Congress. They managed to get the slimmest of a majority, which entitles them to elect the next House Speaker. Currently GOP minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, is presumed to be in line for that post. However, his ascension isn’t guaranteed because the Republican dumpster fire caucus is being smothered by their uber-rightist flank.
Consequently, McCarthy is taking extraordinary and desperate measures to secure his promotion. Among them is his humiliating condescension to extremists like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Jordan, and Paul Gosar. He is promising an authoritarian style reign wherein he will try to unilaterally – and without cause – remove Democrats from their committee assignments. It’s a stance that only makes him look weaker and more incompetent than ever.
This week McCarthy floated another proposition that he believes will earn him the support of his party’s loonies. He announced what he plans to do on the first day of his tenure as Speaker, should he get there. And it has nothing to do with inflation, crime, immigration, abortion, or any of the other unpopular initiatives that Republicans campaigned on. But McCarthy’s proposal was met with immediate blowback by Democratic representative Ted Lieu of California. McCarthy stated his intention to stage a transparently exploitative piece of political theater…
McCarthy: On the very first day of the new Republican-led Congress, we will read every single word of the Constitution aloud from the floor of the House—something that hasn’t been done in years.
Lieu: Dear @GOPLeader: I volunteer to read the Insurrection Clause. Also, shouldn’t you and your party be working on passing bills to help the American people?
Dear @GOPLeader: I volunteer to read the Insurrection Clause.
Also, shouldn’t you and your party be working on passing bills to help the American people? https://t.co/FKlheGKOLL
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) November 26, 2022
Rep. Lieu is now in contention for 2022’s award for “Best Trolling of a GOP Hack.” If McCarthy goes forward with his reading of the Constitution, he’s going to need to decide how to handle the parts that highlight the Republican’s lawlessness and racism. The Insurrection Clause that Lieu referenced seems to apply fittingly to Donald Trump, and many members to the GOP “Freedom” caucus. It says that…
“No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection [emphasis added] or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.”
If history is any indication, McCarthy won’t be taking Lieu up on his his offer. The last time the Constitution was read from House floor was in 2011, by the newly elected Tea Party Republicans. They deliberately left out the Insurrection Clause. They all also left out the parts describing the “three-fifths compromise” that counted slaves as three-fifths of a person in the calculation of congressional representation. And they skipped over the language that mandated that “runaway” slaves be “delivered up” to their owners. If those are included this time, who will be the unlucky member who has to read them?
Democrats should not allow such revisionist history to be presented this time around. If McCarthy wants to pay tribute to the Founding Fathers and their work, then the entire record should be on display, warts and all. If Republicans don’t like the fact that the original documents oppressed slaves, women, and anyone that didn’t own property, they should be consoled by the amendments that followed, not by censorship.
What they shouldn’t be doing is editing out the parts of the Constitution that they don’t like because it reflects badly on them and what they are pursuing in the present day. But that’s what McCarthy and his confederates are aiming for. He should know that he’s on the wrong track when even his media mouthpieces on Fox News are criticizing his fecklessness and impotency as a leader.
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