Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The 'GOP' has become the 'WP'

If you don't believe that the 'Grand Old Party' has become the 'Wingnut Party,' just consider the messages of three prominent Republicans.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
Bachmann has claimed that health care reform is unconstitutional.

It is not within our power as members of Congress, it’s not within the enumerated powers of the Constitution, for us to design and create a national takeover of health care. Nor is it within our ability to be able to delegate that responsibility to the executive.

Of course she is dead wrong.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)
DeMint claimed that health reform violates the Tenth Amendment and urged state legislators and governors to "champion individual freedom" by resisting the bill.

DeMint said he would love to see states go to court to invoke the Tenth Amendment: "If we had some states come together and say the only way to save this country is to push back."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R)
Perry has endorsed "state sovereignty resolutions" that demand the federal government "cease and desist" enforcing many laws with which conservatives disagree.

Perry — who suggested in April at one of the right-wing “tea parties” that Texas may have to secede from the union — even went so far as threatening to invoke the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to resist health care reform and suggested other states would do the same.
Ian Millhiser in an article titled, Rally 'Round the "True Constitution" defines "tentherism."
Tentherism, in a nutshell, proclaims that New Deal-era reformers led an unlawful coup against the "True Constitution," exploiting Depression-born desperation to expand the federal government's powers beyond recognition. Under the tenther constitution, Barack Obama's health-care reform is forbidden, as is Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The federal minimum wage is a crime against state sovereignty; the federal ban on workplace discrimination and whites-only lunch counters is an unlawful encroachment on local businesses.
The Progress Report lends some historical perspective to this issue.
Indeed, while "birther" conspiracy theorists make increasingly outlandish attempts to dismantle President Obama's legitimacy, "tenther" constitutionalists like Bachmann, DeMint, and Perry hope to dismantle an entire century's worth of progressive legislation.

Tenthers derive their narrow vision of the Constitution from a strained reading of the Tenth Amendment, which provides that the Constitution contains an itemized list of federal powers and anything not contained in that list is beyond Congress' authority. In the tenthers' eyes, Congress' powers must all be read too narrowly to allow most federal statutes to exist. However, the tenther constitution bears little resemblance to the words of the document itself.

Contrary to tenther claims that federal spending programs like Medicare or Social Security are unconstitutional, Article I of the Constitution empowers Congress to "lay and collect taxes" and to "provide for...the general welfare of the United States," which unambiguously authorizes it to spend money in ways that benefit the nation.

Similarly, Congress' broad authority to enact regulatory schemes that "substantially affect interstate commerce" easily encompasses laws like the federal minimum wage and the requirement that businesses do not discriminate on the basis of race. As Roosevelt chided tenther-like conservatives from his era, "The Constitution of 1787 did not make our democracy impotent."
Where do other Republican politicians stand on the issue of radicalism in the Republican Party?
US House Representative Wally Herger, of California’s 2nd congressional district, expressed “enthusiastic approval” of a town-hall attendee who described himself as a “proud right-wing terrorist,”

Recently, Rex Rammell — a Republican candidate for governor in Idaho — joked to an audience that he’d like to hunt President Obama.
Even some Republicans have recently commented on this trend toward radicalism.

In April, 2009, Sen. Arlen Specter announced that he was switching parties to become a Democrat. In a statement released to the press, Specter explained that the GOP has left moderates behind and “has moved far to the right.”

Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right.
In May, 2009 on "Meet the Press," MSNBC's Joe Scarborough took issue with this popular yet obviously debatable theme:

[W]hen I hear Democrats like Arlen Specter and read editorialists like E.J. Dionne saying how liberal--or, or how conservative the Republican Party's become, they've got it backwards. We have not been conservative as a party, we've been radical.

UPDATE: The following article by Adele M. Stan, The Wing-Nut Code: What Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin Are Really Saying to Their Followers, states:

You thought they were just unhinged. But here's what they're really saying to the armed and dangerous.

The point is that when Beck throws up a graphic of a segmented snake as his project's mascot, or Palin speaks of her native land as the "sovereign" state of Alaska, they're blowing a kind of dog-whistle for the armed and paranoid who make up the right-wing, neo-militia "Patriot" movement and the broader "Tea Party" coalition.

The 10th Amendment movement is tied in with the Tea Party and patriot movements: On the Web site of the Tenth Amendment Center, one finds yet another version of the "Don't Tread On Me" flag, and links to 35 state groups identified as part of the patriot movement -- a number of them state chapters of Glenn Beck's 9-12 Project.

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