House GOP Humors the Tea Party with an Empty Constitutional Gesture

The incoming 112th Congress looked like it was going to be an exercise in futility with Republican’s in charge of the House, but the new rules Republicans intend on implementing will make legislating a comedy of errors that guarantees absolutely nothing will be accomplished. On January 6, a day after John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker of the House, the entire 4,543-word Constitution of the United States, with all 27 amendments, will be read aloud on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Reading the Constitution aloud is a prelude to a rule that requires every single piece of proposed legislation to have a statement at the bottom of the bill citing where in the Constitution Congress is empowered to enact such legislation. The new rule is sure to make Tea Party members happy, but will open up disputes regarding the interpretation and relevance of the 200-year-old document as it pertains to new legislation.

It seems more than a little strange that members of Congress swear an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, but need to read the document out loud after they have been sworn in. Republicans are under pressure from the Tea Party to return to the Founders’ original intent laid out in the Constitution, and teabag queen Michelle Bachmann has taken it upon herself to be the progenitor of all things Constitutional by holding instructional classes to teach the document to incoming representatives.

Bachmann thinks the November 2nd election was a mandate for Congress to return to the Founders’ idea of America and says, “Voters called for a renewed commitment to the Constitution,” and that, “These new rules show that Republicans are serious about respecting the Constitution.” Bachmann’s comprehension of the Constitution is tenuous at best, and her remarks this past summer that she wanted Minnesotan’s to be “armed and dangerous” in case the Federal government enforced federal laws were nothing short of treason and incitement to armed insurrection.

The new rules are meant to satisfy the tea party faithful and are symbolic because as soon as the novelty wears off, it will be business as usual for the new and old Republicans who have hired industry lobbyists to advise them on legislative matters big and small. Experts agree that the Republican tactics are for the purpose of humoring the grass-roots tea party movement who turned out to vote them into office. Kevin Gutzman is a history professor at a Connecticut University and a tea party sympathizer who said that, “They humor people who are not expert or fully cognizant…and as soon as those people go away, it’s right back to business as usual.” The Republicans’ corporate sponsors and lobbyist advisers will not sit idly by and allow their puppets to waste time pouring over the articles and sections of the Constitution to justify legislation they need to continue raping America.

Experienced Republican legislators know that the Founders crafted the Constitution to be flexible for any eventuality, and that they will not pass anything if it is put under scrutiny of Constitutional novices. The Supreme Court cannot reach consensus on Constitutional matters, and one would expect the Justices to have a better than rudimentary knowledge of the document. There is also the matter of issues that may arise that did not exist in the Founders’ days.

It is unimaginable how the Congress will handle laws governing communications, energy policy, transportation, education, defense, or the budget if they stick closely to the original intent of the Founding Fathers. Fortunately, the Founders crafted the Constitution in such a way that allowed subsequent generations to follow the basic principles of the document instead of specific issues that will not be found regardless the amount of searching by inexperienced Republicans or their corporate sponsors and lobbyist advisers.

The interpretation of the Constitution varies from expert to expert, and there will be little agreement between partisan members of the House depending on their personal stake in a piece of legislation. The Constitution is deliberately ambiguous so legislators can apply the principles to a particular measure, and gives guidance on how problems should be approached and solved in a democratic way. Under the new Republican rules, the Congress will be mired in debate and controversy over the Constitutionality of new legislation; if any bills ever make it to the floor for debate.

Indeed, even the 2nd Amendment is ambiguous because it does not address possession of a firearm if you are not a well-regulated militia member. There is also the question of exactly when the Constitution leaves the purview of the Founders when considering the multitude of amendments passed after the Founders were long dead. Will Michelle Bachmann forfeit her seat in the House because the Founders made no provision for women to serve as legislators much less have the right to vote?

The reality is that the new rule requiring constitutional endorsement for legislation is a symbolic means to appease the tea party movement who voted for Republicans in the midterm election. Maybe for intellectually challenged legislators like Michelle Bachmann, the rule will satisfy her wish to take the country back to the 18th century. But she is stupid if she misses the point that the Constitution is not a clear document, but a guide for governance across the ages, and she certainly short changes the Founders by expecting the Constitution to address specific issues in the 21st century.

The 112th Congress will be tumultuous without strict adherence to the Constitution, and Republicans’ plans for constitutionally-cited legislation will result in gridlock the obstructionists cannot begin to imagine. Republicans claim the American people expect them to pass laws according to the strictest interpretation of the Constitution, but as soon as the document is read, their lobbyist advisers and corporate masters will demand they pass laws giving them power over the government. Power that is not in the Constitution, and power the Founders would not approve of in 1790 or in 2011. But then, Republicans have no intention of following the Founders’ wishes; or the Constitution.

9 Replies to “House GOP Humors the Tea Party with an Empty Constitutional Gesture”

  1. Excellent analysis, Rmuse. It is an empty gesture and it’s difficult to see how it be taken otherwise. It’s like asserting that reading the Bible makes you a Christian, or reading Mein Kampf makes you a Nazi. Words aren’t much without gestures and the gestures of the Tea Party and Republicans alike go against everything the Constitution and the Founding Fathers said. The supreme irony for me is that a document born out of compromise has become for them a symbol of implacable ideology.

  2. It’s also a measure of the condescension and scorn that the seasoned GOP congressmembers actually feel for the Tea Partiers. They were used primarily to return the GOP to power, and I wonder just when and how they will come to realize that. Of course, with their obliviousness to irony as well as their desire for a mythical America that never truly existed, they are fair game for those who want to use them but will at the end of the day at least attempt to enact legislation that doesn’t satisfy the Tea Partiers. I see the potential for conflict that will work against accomplishing anything in the House.

  3. If “These new rules show that Republicans are serious about respecting the Constitution.” , why are the republicans getting rid of the ethics committee?

    There is no way the republicans can run the house and live under the strict adherence to the constitution. For one because they are corrupt, for another the constitution does not cover much of our lives today including banking rules etc

  4. So, then, is it their contention that the founders wanted wealthy corporations to have more rights than people and to run the government? Hmm. Just how soon until the Koch brothers rein in their Tea Party bought and paid for puppets?

    This is so offensive and pathetic – wasting our money for grandstanding show. If they don’t know the constitution already, why are they in office? If they do, why do they need it read to them? Razzle dazzle the Big Show is on. One hand rapes the American people while the other taps to the Constitution jingle for the tee-vee and the Tea Parties rejoice for their team of corporatists and idiocracy takes a firm hold.

  5. Rmuse, terrific article. Thank you.


    One of the many things I look forward to is how EXACTLY the TanMan drunken Boner is going to “wrangle” the TEABAGGERS. Boner is not going to be in a good mood most of the time due to his lack of time at the 19th Hole with his funding buddies.

    If jobs are not created (millions of jobs) by June 1st, methinks Boner will not be Speaker for long – he has neither the temprament nor the intelligence to work with and/or around the Teabaggers.

    The Rethugs have quieted down a bit since the election – first they proclaimed they were Kings and now, they are attempting to lower the country’s expectations – too bad for them. Once this new Congress gets rolling, it will be a huge mess of in-fighting and non-cooperation.

    The reading of the Constitution won’t last a week – too much time – what will the Teabaggers do then? Since Captain Crazy created the Tea Party Caucus, she will be the leader of the rebellion against Boner and the Establishment.

    We are going to need LOTS of popcorn for the next two years of stoopidity.

  6. Shiva,

    It will be very interesting to see what Issa tries to do as well. The country is not in the mood for another round of witch hunts ala the Clinton years – the Internet has changed everything and so many people are unemployed, they spend countless hours on the blogs – the MSM is starting to wake up regarding the “Blogosphere” because every single media person has either a FB page and/or blog of their teevee time. What was once considered the “anonymous crazies” in their Mom’s basement has turned into the professional unemployed masses who will not tolerate the BS planned by the Rethuggery Obstructionist Party of Teabagging Fewls and their Subpoena Power Leader Issa. Combine that with the WARS and it has the making of a massive rebellion against the Rethugs and Teabaggers.

    Can hardly wait.

  7. I keep seeing references to corporations being granted the rights of people, even though are more powerful than people:

    “This tendency of ours to blindly swallow the substitution of fictitious concepts for the real world has made us the perfect victim. We have legally defined imaginary entities (corporations) as “persons” with all of the rights and virtually none of the responsibilities that are incumbent upon you and me. This places them at a remarkable advantage when they compete against us in the halls of congress and on the street. Legislators, our law makers, are openly bought by an unlimited quantity of these virtual persons that decide what the rules of our “democracy” will be. While deluding ourselves into thinking we are guided by morality and ethics, we have delegated rule-making to a small band of robots that were hand-picked, paid for, and placed in office by investors that don’t even pretend to have any objective other than to increase the bottom line for their shareholders.”

    Are we sure the government is not already run by corporations, as some contend?

  8. At least we may enjoy the small schadenfreude of watching those Republican stalwarts stumble over the big words and get lost in the sophisticated syntax of a document so many of them are intellectually incapable of composing.

    But yes, it’s just another dog and pony show for the easily distracted masses. Pity the pony is lame and the dog has heartworm.

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