September 13, 2011

A deep strain of Republican madness

Steve Benen:
Taken together, over the last five days, we’ve learned that the way to impress Republican voters, at least the ones who show up for events like these, is to support letting the uninsured die, accusing the Fed of treason for trying to improve the economy, and executing lots of people.
And booing when somebody (the Texan libertarian-of-convenience Ron Paul) tries to tell you that not all Muslims are homicidal terrorists.
There’s a deep strain of madness running through Republican politics in 2011, and it appears to be getting worse. Those wondering why the GOP presidential field appears weak, insipid, and shallow need look no further than the voters they choose to pander to.
More interesting to me is that Michele Bachmann, who claims to be the bona fide Tea Party Republican — and who reportedly has a degree in law — doesn't even understand how federalism, the motivating principle of American government, works. Last night she asserted that it's unconstitutional for a State to impose what's known in the federal Affordable Care Act as the individual insurance mandate. But the whole point of the Constitutional Convention was and is to limit federal power in order to preserve the States' powers to do whatever they need to do.

So of course States may impose such a mandate.

Not only does the Constitution not forbid it, the Framers devised the 10th Amendment, for which Tea Party Republicans otherwise profess their undying fealty, to affirmatively reiterate that motivating principle.

It's nice that the Tea Partyers have reminded us there is a Constitution.

Now if they would actually take the time to read the damn thing, we might be getting somewhere. Here in Wisconsin, the alleged Tea Party Senator Ron Johnson can't read it and nor, for that matter, can these seven Federalist Society attorneys, led by none other than Governor Scott Walker's choice to head up his judicial appointment committee.

Yet few seem even to care about those jarring dissonances.

More broadly speaking — and being the deepest of ironies — the Tea Party Republicans yapping and clapping at these candidate debates are precisely indicative of the irrational mentality that the Framers distrusted to make political decisions, and why the latter limited their political participation to electing only the House of Representatives, itself limited to two-year terms to keep its damages to a minimum.

In that oft-forgotten sense, the Tea Party Republicans have nothing to do with the Constitution at all, being exactly the mob upon which the Framers' jaundiced eyes were fixed. So when the Tea Party Republicans complain about so-called liberal politicians presuming to know what's best for them while at the same time pledging their devotion to an alleged originalist constitutionalism, tell them they cannot have it both ways.

That oughta flip their ersatz tricornes.


gnarlytrombone said...

Ron Johnson can't read it

And he doesn't even have the excuse that Jeebus told him it's not necessary.

JoeT said...

Romney apparently does not understand the 10th Amendment either. In the debate in Iowa , he stated:

“There are some similarities between what we did in Massachusetts and what President Obama did, but there are some big differences. And one is, I believe in the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. And that says that powers not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved by the states and the people.”

What he gets wrong of course is the “not specifically granted” part which is absent from the 10th Amendment. In contrast to the Constitution, Article II of the Articles of Confederation uses the term “expressly”:

“Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.”

Madison discusses why the term “expressly” was omitted when describing the “necessary and proper clause” in Federalist 44 . It’s there that one can also find one of the strongest arguments for an expansive view of the Federal government – coming from Madison and not Hamilton –

“No axiom is more clearly established in law, or in reason, than that wherever the end is required, the means are authorized;”

It’s conceivable that the Madison of 1787 might have argued for a Federal mandate for health insurance – although the Madison of 1791 would surely have argued against it.

Jeremy R. Shown said...

"So of course States may impose such a mandate."

How about some 9th amendment protections against such a mandate? Or do the penumbras not extend far enough to prohibit the forced purchase of a product in the private marketplace?

illusory tenant said...

I think the "penumbras" "emanated" from other provisions of the Bill of Rights, and the Ninth Amendment was used to validate the right to privacy the justices discovered within the penumbras and emanations. As for the mandate I think the Ninth Amendment affirms the people's right to give a State the power to require something like the insurance mandate. But the people wouldn't be able to give the federal government that power (at least, through the Commerce Clause) without amending the Constitution.

By the way, speaking as a judicial conservative, I don't approve of courts using analogies like they did in Griswold. Lawyers should: they can be extremely useful; but judges should avoid them. Justice Douglas et al could have reached the same result without invoking those planetary illustrations. They've become a distracting basis for mocking the decision and avoiding the reasonable inferences they drew from, for example, the Fourth Amendment's clear references to personal privacy.

And JoeT, excellent comment, especially this:

"It’s conceivable that the Madison of 1787 might have argued for a Federal mandate for health insurance – although the Madison of 1791 would surely have argued against it."

Very thought-provoking!

illusory tenant said...

By the way, you got enough for a baseball team yet?

Anonymous said...

Any news about A defector's strange disappearance?