A funny thing happened on the way to the Tea Party: back when the movement was arguably apolitical and worshiped at the alter of Ron Paul during the beginnings of the 2008 presidential election campaign season, people from all walks of life rallied behind a strict banner of Libertarianism that was not attached to any particular party. And while I thought the ideas of Ron Paul were short sighted, irresponsible and in some cases dangerous, I had a certain degree of respect for people who rejected both the Right and Left’s political dogma. They didn’t call themselves tea partiers, but this certainly was the beginning of the movement.
Then the Christian Conservatives got their grubby hands on the cause and started operating behind the shadows like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. While the Tea Partiers still claim that they want government out of their lives, they now overwhelmingly oppose social reformations that would not only keep the governments out of their wallets, but also out of their pants. The Tea Party is not a group of radical Libertarians, but rather a reincarnation of Newt Gingrich’s Religious Right.
The evidence of this lies in one of the GOP’s key changes to House of Representative rules when they take power next week: the reading of the Constitution at the open of the new Congress and the requirement that all lawmakers writing new bills insert a line explaining why it does not violate the Constitution.
As John Boehner says it:
“These reforms represent Republicans’ first step in keeping the promises we outlined in the Pledge to America to change the way Washington works and address the people’s priorities: creating jobs and cutting spending,”
Aside from the fact that this masquerade has nothing to do with creating jobs, it shows proof that religious Fundamentalism is sweeping the GOP. The Constitution was an imperfect document and the founding fathers knew this, that’s why they allowed wiggle room within the document giving it elasticity. But the new GOP will refuse to acknowledge this, just as they refuse to admit that the book of Genesis may, in fact, be more a parable than a written document of historic truth even though it has been proven false by science. They are worshiping at the altar of Washington with the Constitution as their sacred document. In both cases it boils down to ignorance as a choice. By believing the Bible in a literal way, people have the ability to relinquish all responsibility and “offer up” problems instead of taking the time to fix them with discrimination and sexism being the norm. The same can be said with a Fundamentalist interpretation of the Constitution; believers can ignore the poor and suffering in this country by literally interpreting the Constitution without actually analyzing the conditions in which it was written (case in point the 2nd amendment). Ignorance is bliss.
All that being said, this might be a “teaching moment” for the GOP because as Yale constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar said in an interview with the Washington Post, the constitution actually gives “very broad federal power” and is “not the narrow states’ rights document that tea party activists present it as.” We’ll see what happens, but regardless of the outcome, once the new Congress convenes and the Wizard steps out from behind his curtain, the GOP will be seen for what they are: the 2nd coming of the Christian Right.
Photo by Kabrina McLaughlin @ Notmanhattan.com.