11 of the Tea Party GOP's Most Ridiculous Policy Ideas (So Far)
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Only weeks have passed since the new Tea Party Republicans stormed into power promising to bring what they see as the hallmarks of good governance -- greater accountability, fiscal restraint and an ill-defined but unwavering devotion to the Constitution. The early results of their rising influence haven't been encouraging. The new Tea Party lawmakers have introduced a slew of truly wacky legislative proposals designed only to appeal to Glenn Beck and their far-right base.
Some of them are merely symbolic, others are blatantly unconstitutional but all are profoundly unserious in a country that faces more than its share of very real problems. Surveying this sad collection of proposals, one might imagine that we weren't occupying distant countries, didn't have an unemployment rate over 9 percent for 21 months and weren't looking toward a record number of foreclosures in 2011.
Here's a look at some of the silliest proposals to surface so far.
1. Georgia Bill Would Ban Drivers' Licenses
“Because of the Constitution!” – without further elaboration – is a hollow but popular argument for all manner of policies in the era of the Tea Parties, but Georgia state Rep. Bobby Franklin, R-Marietta, has a curious view of what our founding documents actually proscribe.
CBS' Atlanta affiliate reports that the lawmaker introduced a bill that would do away with drivers' licenses, arguing that they “are a throw back to oppressive times.”
In his bill, Franklin states, "free people have a common law and constitutional right to travel on the roads and highways that are provided by their government for that purpose. Licensing of drivers cannot be required of free people, because taking on the restrictions of a license requires the surrender of an inalienable right."
What makes this such an odd position – aside from the fact that Franklin appears to believe driving a motor vehicle is an “inalienable right” – is that licenses are issued by the states and not the federal government.
Franklin has served in the Georgia legislature since 1996, where he claims to be "the conscience of the Republican Caucus because he believes that civil government should return to its biblically and constitutionally defined role.”
2. Forcing Science Teachers to 'Question' Evolution
Evolution, like gravity, is merely a theory! Of course, it's also theory supported by loads and loads of hard scientific evidence.
But for Oklahoma lawmaker Sally Kern, there's an intense “scientific controversy” over whether Jesus in fact rode around on dinosaurs, and she's introduced a bill requiring teachers to explore that possibility. According to Think Progress, Kern's bill “would require the state and local authorities to 'assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies' ... but the only topics mentioned in the bill as contestable are 'biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.'”
The National Center for Science Education notes that the proposal is the fourth anti-evolution measure to be offered in 2011 and the second in Oklahoma.
[The Bill] differs only slightly from Senate Bill 320, which died in committee in February 2009; a member of the Senate Education Committee told theTulsa World (February 17, 2009) that it was one of the worst bills that he had even seen. In its critique (PDF) of SB 320, Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education argued, "Promoting the notion that there is some scientific controversy is just plain dishonest ... Evolutionary theory has advanced substantially since Darwin's time and, despite 150 years of direct research, no evidence in conflict with evolution has ever been found." With respect to the supposed "weaknesses" of evolution, OESE added, "they are phony fabrications, invented and promoted by people who don't like evolution."