Friday, December 31, 2010

GOP theater: Now starring the U.S. Constitution

By Nicholas Wilbur 

Republicans take control of the lower branch of Congress on January 5. On January 6, members of the new Republican-controlled House will do what no Congress member has done in the entire history of the country: they will read the United States Constitution from start to finish. 

If it sounds like a new age of honor and accountability in politics is on the horizon, don't be fooled. 

Republican leaders plan to emphasize their vigor in carrying the water for this nouveau wave of patriotism by instituting a mandatory practice of attaching a citation of constitutional authority to every piece of legislation presented in the 112th Congress. But that too should be taken with a grain – or possibly an entire box – of salt.

Tea Partiers across the country are howling a victory song over these surface-level gestures, and I'm beginning to feel that unpleasantly familiar tingle in the back of my throat that usually precedes the uncontrollable outpouring of vomit from my mouth.

"It appears that the Republicans have been listening," Jeff Luecke, a Tea Party organizer in Dubuque, Iowa, told The Washington Post. "We're so far away from our founding principles that, absolutely, this is the very, very tip of the iceberg. We need to talk about and learn about the Constitution daily."


No one could argue against learning. Education is the backbone of American enterprise, the foundation of individual liberty, the necessary prerequisite for responsible media consumption and informed voting.

This is not that. This is the GOP wrapping a bow around a cheap, as-seen-on-TV gimmick. This is an embarrassment to all who are capable of distinguishing between real progress and mere shadows dancing nude in front of a perpetually digressing and intellectually devolving populace. This is entertainment broadcast for the masses at the expense of actual, measurable enlightenment.

And, sadly but not surprisingly, no one seems to notice.

A wise man once told me that extremism is borne of ignorance, while intelligence is necessarily cultivated, instructed, and nurtured over time.

"Whenever we wish to understand something other than ourselves, we must remember that we never really escape ourselves, our place and time, saturated as they are with a multitude of experiences and assumptions." 

The subject of this quotation was Islam, but the core of this man's statement is a timeless and universal maxim for approaching education in general.

Knowledge is not innate, but particularly during the learning process itself, an individual's perceptions, stereotypes, experiences, and assumptions undoubtedly influence the way new information is absorbed and understood.

Do you know what Muslim terrorists read in order to justify blowing up buildings, planes, and marketplaces? (Hint: It's the same book that billions of moderate, peace-loving Muslims read daily.)

Do you know what extremist Christians read before hosting book-burning parties, protesting the funerals of U.S. military service members, and murdering abortion doctors? (Hint: It's the same "good news" that billions of moderate, peace-loving Christians read daily.)

Hearing verbatim recitations of the Constitution isn't akin to terrorism. To claim such would be idiotic beyond measure. But exactly what purpose is served by the GOP's bright idea to have story time with the American people?

Is it possible that reading the U.S. Constitution will prove only to reinforce the radical ideas of a group of revolutionists suffering from intellectual retardation (per its actual definition: delayed, slow, inhibited, hampered)?

Considering that the Tea Party believes that anything not specifically mentioned in the Constitution is therefore unconstitutional, then yes.

Health-care reform, for example, isn't in the Constitution.

The Internal Revenue Service isn't in the Constitution.

Public schools, specifically, are not in the Constitution, and neither are unemployment benefits, anti-discrimination laws or women's rights.

There are millions of reams of case law defining and interpreting probably every sentence of this historic document. Without the context provided by centuries of interpretation, analysis, and application, reading the Constitution and/or citing the Constitution will do nothing to bring America back around to what the Founding Fathers intended (assuming we're so far off base that such a revolution is necessary at all).

Republicans are planning a reality show for the ages, and it's sure to be full of the same sensational, headline-grabbing theatrics that helped rally the base in the 2010 midterm election. But it won't mean anything. It won't change anything. And it won't fix any of the problems we're faced with as a nation.

Like many of the Republican Party's tactics, it's good politics, as it appeals to the masses who believe America is straying from the intentions of its Founding Fathers. But in practice, such histrionic displays of alleged patriotism will only further enrage the blindly faithful and context-averse followers of the GOP by giving Republicans a seemingly legitimate reason to block Democrat-sponsored legislation in the 112th Congress.

That is what this nouveau wave of patriotism is all about – not education, not enlightenment, just more smoke, mirrors, and entertaining shadows on the wall.

Skidamarink a dinky dink, Skidamarink a doo. Welcome to the Elephant Show!

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  • LOL! I'm sure they're going to "read" all the bills too! LOL!

    Hapy New Year, JMJ

    By Blogger Jersey McJones, at 9:49 PM  

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