Friday, July 23, 2010

Fringe or Not Fringe, that is the Question

The lexicon of today's politics includes labels such as 'Birthers,' 'Tenthers' & 'Tea Partiers.' These are all off-shoots of the Republican Party but not necessarily affiliated with the G.O.P. and therefore seem to have a life of their own. In case you are unaware of the distinctions between these groups, here is a simple run down.

The Birther Movement

The Birthers are dedicated to the renewal of the constitutional government, starting with insuring that the President and Commander in Chief is a "natural born citizen."

They seek strict adherence to the Constitution of the USA.

The Tenther Movement

This is a movement urging states to exert their rights under the 10th Amendment. The Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights, states: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

The 'Tenther' movement comes from what advocates see as the federal government's forcing policies on the states -- most notably on health care reform, economic recovery measures and social issues.

The Tea Bag Movement

According to the official home of the American Tea Party movement, the Tea Party Patriots are a "community committed to standing together, shoulder to shoulder, to protect our country and the Constitution upon which we were founded!"

The name the "Tea Party" is a reference to the Boston Tea Party of 1773 when the colonists felt disenfranchised. Today the Tea Party is an acronym standing for Taxed Enough Already.

The Tea Party protesters want government off their backs and less taxes.

What all three movements have in common is a desire to interpret the constitution according to what they think the founding fathers intended, which means deregulation, less taxation and no social programs. In many ways, each of these groups is really a Tenther at heart.

Ian Millhiser from Center for American Progress wants to know if, "The Right Re-embraces Lunatic Legal Arguments from the Past" are we "Doomed to Repeat History?"

Spend a week listening to the right, and you’ll think the founders were all modern-day Tea Partiers. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) thinks the Constitution forbids Congress to spend federal money on programs he personally disapproves of. Justice Clarence Thomas thinks that the minimum wage, child labor laws, and the federal ban on whites-only lunch counters all violate the Constitution. And of course, everyone on the right thinks that health reform is unconstitutional.

It’s enough to make you think they’re just making it up as they go along. It clearly can’t be the case that every single law cherished by progressives just happens to be unconstitutional.

Yet the reality is even worse. When the right’s view of the Constitution was ascendant 75 years ago, basic protections such as a restriction on child labor were declared unconstitutional; laws banning discrimination were unthinkable; and Social Security was widely viewed as next in line for the Supreme Court’s chopping block.

America’s right now wants nothing more than to revive this discredited theory of the Constitution. These conservatives are over-reading the Tenth Amendment, a provision of the Constitution that provides Congress’s power is not unlimited. So-called “tenther” conservatives are determined to use their twisted reinterpretation to shrink national leaders’ power to the point where it can be drowned in a bathtub. They must not be allowed to succeed for three reasons:

  • Tentherism is dangerous. Monopolists seized control of entire industries during tentherism’s last period of ascendance. Workers were denied the most basic protections, while management happily invoked the long arm of the law when a labor dispute arose. Worst of all, Congress was powerless against this effort. And the Court swiftly declared congressional action unconstitutional when elected officials took even the most modest steps to protect workers or limit corporate power.
  • Tentherism has no basis in constitutional text or history. Nothing in the Constitution supports tenther arguments. And tenther claims are nothing new. Each of them was raised as early as the Washington administration, and each was rejected by George Washington himself.
  • Tentherism is authoritarian. Health reform, Social Security, and the Civil Rights Act all exist because the people’s representatives said they should exist. The tenthers express goal is to make the Supreme Court strip these elected representatives of power and impose a conservative agenda upon the nation.

The right’s quizzical lawsuits challenging health reform are just the tip of the tenther iceberg. If these lawsuits succeed, much of America’s most cherished laws could be next against the wall.

Read the complete article HERE.

These 'fringe' groups are becoming anything but fringe. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) just recently chaired the first meeting of the House "Tea Party" Caucus. The group’s goal is to “promote Americans’ call for fiscal responsibility, adherence to the Constitution and limited government.”

The issue for many Republicans is how closely aligned do they want to be with the Tea Party, when much their agenda is not considered to be part of the mainstream.

Prominent GOP-ers who have joined the Tea Party Caucus so far:

  • GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN)
  • NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX)
  • Secretary of the House Republican Conference Rep. John Carter (R-TX)
  • Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) -- the ranking member on the Select Committee on Intelligence who is also running for governor of Michigan
  • Five other Republican members of the Texas congressional delegation: Joe Barton, Michael Burgess, John Culberson, Louie Gohmert, and Lamar Smith, (R-TX).
Also other GOP members include:
  • Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS)
  • Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS)

Prominent GOP-ers who have declined invitations so far:

  • Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH)
  • Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA)
While the followers of these groups believe in their cause, others think that these splinter groups will either doom the country or be the doom of the Republican Party.

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