This may be the best Conventional Media article of the year: How Tea Partiers Get the Constitution Wrong. It was written by Andrew Romano for Newsweek and is a fairly comprehensive look at how the Tea Party sanctifies the Constitution while simultaneously basking in their ignorance of it. It is worth reading in its entirety, but here are some choice excerpts:
“Tea Partiers engage with the Constitution in such a selective manner, and for such nakedly political purposes, that they’re clearly relying on it more as an instrument of self-affirmation and cultural division than a source of policy inspiration.”
This is demonstrated every time a Tea Bagger makes the fatuous claim that [fill in the blank] doesn’t appear in the Constitution. This can refer to anything from separation of church and state to gay marriage to income taxes. However, it never refers to the FAA, workplace safety, the minimum wage, or corporate welfare like farm subsidies or incentives to ship jobs overseas.
“In the current Congress, conservatives like Michele Bachmann have suggested more than 40 additions to the Constitution: a flag-desecration amendment; a balanced-budget amendment; a ‘parental rights’ amendment; a supermajority-to-raise-taxes amendment; anti-abortion amendment; an anti-gay-marriage amendment; and so on. None of these revisions has anything to do with the document’s original meaning.” […]
“The truth is that for all their talk of purity, politicians like Palin, Angle, and Miller don’t seem to be particularly concerned with matching their actual positions to the Constitution they profess to worship. For them, the sacred text serves a higher purpose.”
Tea Baggers are quick to gush their reverence for the original intent of the Constitution – slavery, sexism, and all. And they are just as quick to disparage it and rush to desecrate it with oppressive and irrelevant amendments that are contrary to its underpinnings of freedom.
“Like other fundamentalists, they seek refuge from the complexity and confusion of modern life in the comforting embrace of an authoritarian scripture and the imagined past it supposedly represents. Like other fundamentalists, they see in their good book only what they want to see: confirmation of their preexisting beliefs. Like other fundamentalists, they don’t sweat the details, and they ignore all ambiguities. And like other fundamentalists, they make enemies or evildoers of those who disagree with their doctrine.” […]
“The point is always the same: to suggest that the Constitution, like the Bible, decrees what’s right and wrong (rather than what’s legal and illegal), and to insist that only they and their ilk can access its truths. We are moral, you are not; we represent America, you do not. Theirs is the rallying cry of culture war.”
Umm…..Are you listening, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, et al?
“Thomas Jefferson put it best. In a letter to a friend in 1816, he mocked ‘men [who] look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched’“
The effort to transform the Constitution into a divinely inspired, holy document, and its authors into saints, is not new. I wrote about this last June in an article about the right-wing movement to advance the theory of American Exceptionalism, which is nothing more than warmed-over American Supremacy and just as repulsive as Hitler’s conception of a Master Race.
“[Beck] has declared that the Constitution was the result of divine inspiration and is as immutable as holy scripture. He regards the nation’s founders as saintly. One of those founders, Thomas Jefferson, expressly disagrees with Beck. On the matter of Constitutional immutability, Jefferson wrote that ‘…with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.’ That’s hardly an argument for strict constructionalism. And with regard to the divinity of himself and his contemporaries, Jefferson spoke disparagingly of the arrogance of one generation dictating the terms of existence to their heirs, castigating those who would ‘…ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human.’“
It is encouraging to read an article like Romano’s in Newsweek. Hopefully it will be read and heeded by many more and this fallacious notion that the Tea Party has been ordained by God to restore our Constitution will be discarded for its arrogance and complete disconnection with reality.