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Constitutional Lessons For the New Congress

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Republican lawmakers who read the Constitution out loud as their very first act in the new Congress better bask in their Tea Party glow because they're certainly not going to be feeling the love from Constitutional scholars.

It's true, this nation's founders were like most of those Congresspeople -- mostly propertied, white and male; but their vision of government couldn't be more different.

As scholar Lew Daly points out in Dissent, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams weren't Hooverites. To the contrary, they pushed the idea that property and power should be widely distributed -- even redistributed. In their day, "starve the beast" meant starve the elites, those monarchs and mega money men who'd concentrate power and undermine democracy.

Today's Congressional Republicans clutch the Constitution and remind us that fights over the framers are nothing new. After all, it was the left, calling for due process for prisoners and an end to the tyranny of the executive branch, that called on the Constitution during the Bush years — leading to the famous cartoon of Obama taping the Constitution back together on his first day in office.

It might seem amusing for government officials to read a government document as proof that government is the problem, but instead of laughing, people of the progressive bent might do better to read along.

While that people's democracy of Adams and Jefferson is still a work in progress, Republican legislators don't own the Constitution. In fact, they should be held accountable to it: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare...”

Oh my! All that talk of of Common, General, and "We the People" -- don't tell Glenn Beck --it sounds like a front for socialism.

The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv and editor of At The Tea Party, out now from OR Books. GRITtv broadcasts weekdays on DISH Network and DIRECTv, on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter and be our friend on