The Republican Party, The Anti-Federalists And The Tea Parties
Devilstower, a great writer, pens a quite misguided piece about the tea parties, ascribing much more potential to it than it deserves. In particular, Devilstower is wrong to separate it from the Republican Party. Devilstower writes:
This wasn't a tax protest or a conservative movement, it was the semi-regular Gathering of the Disaffected. . . . Like the folks who backed Perot, the baggies are not Republicans. . . . What started on April 15th might actually be the beginning of a movement. And just because third parties haven't be successful in the last 150 years is no guarantee that they'll continue to be unsuccessful for the next 150, or even the next five. One of these days, candidates with letters other then (D) and (R) after their names will take their seats in Congress. One of these days we'll have a president from some party you've never heard of.
This strikes me as completely wrong. [More...]
The tea parties were clearly Republican Party rallies. Organized by Republican for Republicans, covered and marketed by the Republican news network, Fox News. The message delivered was the Republican message soundly rejected by the country last November - railing against taxes, for state rights and against the federal government. This is nothing new - it has been the Republican Party message since 1932, and especially since 1964.
It is now merely a quirk of fate that Alexander Hamilton was the founder of the modern day Republican Party and that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President. Today's Republican Party is the Dixiecrat Party of Strom Thurmond, the one Trent Lott pined for.
The true heirs of the anti-federalists are the Ron Paul movement. Consider the first anti-federalist publication written in response to the adoption of the Constitution by the Constitutional convention in July 1787:
To the Freemen of Pennsylvania.
Friends, Countrymen and Fellow Citizens,
Permit one of yourselves to put you in mind of certain liberties and privileges secured to you by the constitution of this commonwealth, and to beg your serious attention to his uninterested opinion upon the plan of federal government submitted to your consideration, before you surrender these great and valuable privileges up forever. Your present frame of government, secures to you a right to hold yourselves, houses, papers and possessions free from search and seizure, and therefore warrants granted without oaths or affirmations first made, affording sufficient foundation for them, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded or required to search your houses or seize your persons or property, not particularly described in such warrant, shall not be granted. Your constitution further provides "that in controversies respecting property, and in suits between man and man, the parties have a right to trial by jury, which ought to be held sacred." It also provides and declares. "that the people have a right of FREEDOM OF SPEECH, and of WRITING and PUBLISHING their sentiments, therefore THE FREEDOM OF THE PRESS OUGHT NOT TO BE RESTRAINED. " The constitution of Pennsylvania is yet in existence, as yet you have the right to freedom of speech, and of publishing your sentiments. How long those rights will appertain to you, you yourselves are called upon to say, whether your houses shall continue to be your castles; whether your papers, your persons and your property, are to be held sacred and free from general warrants, you are now to determine. Whether the trial by jury is to continue as your birth-right, the freemen of Pennsylvania, nay, of all America, are now called upon to declare.
. . . All the blessings of liberty and the dearest privileges of freemen, are now at stake and dependent on your present conduct. . . . The wealthy and ambitious, who in every community think they have a right to lord it over their fellow creatures, have availed themselves, very successfully, of this favorable disposition; for the people thus unsettled in their sentiments, have been prepared to accede to any extreme of government; all the distresses and difficulties they experience, proceeding from various causes, have been ascribed to the impotency of the present confederation, and thence they have been led to expect full relief from the adoption of the proposed system of government, and in the other event, immediately ruin and annihilation as a nation. These characters flatter themselves that they have lulled all distrust and jealousy of their new plan, by gaining the concurrence of the two men in whom America has the highest confidence [the writer refers to Washington and Franklin, who were persuaded to support the Constitution] , and now triumphantly exult in the completion of their long meditated schemes of power and aggrandisement. . . .
If the tea parties organized by the Republican Party had any connection to the Anti-Federalists, then a discussion of civil liberties would have been central to their movement - great protests against warrantless wiretapping would have occurred. The national security state apparatus would have been decried. It was not. That's because the Tea Parties took their cues from the Republican Party of today - against taxes, and representing the grievances of "real americans" (read white folks.) They shared nothing in the way of the philosophy of the anti-Federalist movement of the Constitutional debates.
Devilstower makes reference to a statement about the Constitution by Ross Perot in 1992:
Keep in mind our Constitution predates the Industrial Revolution. Our founders did not know about electricity, the train, telephones, radio, television, automobiles, airplanes, rockets, nuclear weapons, satellites, or space exploration. There's a lot they didn't know about. It would be interesting to see what kind of document they'd draft today. Just keeping it frozen in time won't hack it.
Perot is a rather dim man when it comes to understanding the Constitution, which was designed to stand the test of history and time. I've written often on this original design, our Living Constitution. Too many deny this history. But the Tea Parties were not about that. The Tea Parties were not relitigating the Constitutional Debates, were not adopting the argument of the anti-federalists:
Mr. Adams's sine qua non of a good government is three balancing powers, whose repelling qualities are to produce an equilibrium of interests, and thereby promote the happiness of the whole community. He asserts that the administrators of every government, will ever be actuated by views of private interest and ambition, to the prejudice of the public good; that therefore the only effectual method to secure the rights of the people and promote their welfare, is to create an opposition of interests between the members of two distinct bodies, in the exercise of the powers of government, and balanced by those of a third. . . . Suppose a government could be formed and supported on such principles, would it answer the great purposes of civil society; if the administrators of every government are actuated by views of private interest and ambition, how is the welfare and happiness of the community to be the result of such jarring adverse interests?
Therefore, as different orders in government will not produce the good of the whole, we must recur to other principles. I believe it will be found that the form of government, which holds those entrusted with power, in the greatest responsibility to their constituents, the best calculated for freemen. A republican, or free government, can only exist where the body of the people are virtuous, and where property is pretty equally divided; in such a government the people are the sovereign and their sense or opinion is the criterion of every public measure; for when this ceases to be the case, the nature of the government is changed, and an aristocracy, monarchy or despotism will rise on its ruin. The highest responsibility is to be attained, in a simple structure of government, for the great body of the people never steadily attend to the operations of government, and for want of due information are liable to be imposed on_If you complicate the plan by various orders, the people will be perplexed and divided in their sentiments about the source of abuses or misconduct, some will impute it to the senate, others to the house of representatives, and so on, that the interposition of the people may be rendered imperfect or perhaps wholly abortive. But if, imitating the constitution of Pennsylvania, you vest all the legislative power in one body of men (separating the executive and judicial) elected for a short period, and necessarily excluded by rotation from permanency [the first term limits proposal], and guarded from precipitancy and surprise by delays imposed on its proceedings, you will create the most perfect responsibility for then, whenever the people feel a grievance they cannot mistake the authors, and will apply the remedy with certainty and effect, discarding them at the next election. This tie of responsibility will obviate all the dangers apprehended from a single legislature, and will the best secure the rights of the people.
(Emphasis supplied.) We heard nothing like from the Tea Parties because we hear nothing like this from the Republican Party. In any event, the Federalists won the debate then. The Constitution was adopted by the requisite 3/4 of the States. And as the Anti-Federalists understood, federal supremacy become the law of the land:
To put the omnipotency of Congress over the state government and judicatories out of all doubt, the 6th article ordains that "this constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made under the authority of the United States, shall be thesupreme law of the land, and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."
By these sections the all-prevailing power of taxation, and such extensive legislative and judicial powers are vested in the general government . . . If the foregoing be a just comment_if the United States are to be melted down into one empire, it becomes you to consider, whether such a government, however constructed, would be eligible in so extended a territory; and whether it would be practicable, consistent with freedom? It is the opinion of the greatest writers, that a very extensive country cannot be governed on democratical principles, on any other plan, than a confederation of a number of small republics, possessing all the powers of internal government, but united in the management of their foreign and general concerns.
Before his endorsement of the principle of secession, Texas Governor Rick Perry and the Tea Parties advocated for the Republican Party view of the Tenth Amendment:
Of course, when it comes to the issues that the Tea Parties are supposed to be about - federal taxation and regulation - the Tenth Amendment is irrelevant. Nothing in the Tenth Amendment jurisprudence will help the Tea Partiers. Their problem is with the New Deal, the Commerce Clause jurisprudence and the Sixteenth Amendment.
That's why Perry' ratcheting up of the rhetoric by endorsing the principle of secession makes logical sense. It truly is the only way, outside of winning the next election and actually rolling back the federal government, to address the Tea Parties' "concerns."
But this is all silliness really and I was surprised to see Devilstower buy into it. There is no movement or ideas represented by the Tea Parties other than a desire for more Republican rule - more Bushism. It is ridiculous to pretend otherwise.
Speaking for me only
|< Will Your DNA Soon Be in a Government Database? | Sunday Afternoon Open Thread >|