The Tenther Movement: Corporate Conservatism Disguised As States’ Rights

Jan 23 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

US Constitution

The United States Constitution has stood the test of time for over 200 years, and it has been amended many times to reflect changing times and to address issues the Founding Fathers never dreamed of when it was originally written. The Founders were intelligent enough to understand that the country would not remain in the 18th century so they made provisions for the document to be amended. Since the election of Barack Obama, groups like the Tea Party and neo-con Republicans have sounded a clarion call to return to the original document as a revolt against changes they see as dangerous to America.

Republicans are so enamored with the Constitution that they read a version of the document at the start of the 112th Congress to show their commitment to strict adherence to it in their legislative efforts. However well-meaning Republicans are, some in their ranks are using the document to challenge laws that do not favor corporations. In addition to rumors of Republicans’ efforts to revisit some amendments in order to change them to fit the neo-conservative belief that oligarchy and theocracy are the ideal form of government, they want to revoke laws that protect citizens and the economic well-being of the country.

Republicans who yearn to return to the Founding Fathers’ time and original Constitution  claim many laws are unconstitutional because they do not fit the oligarchic intent of 21st century conservatives. Representative Paul Broun (R-GA) has been an opponent of the Federal Reserve, Agriculture Department, and Justice Department, and claims the Federal government should only focus on crimes such as counterfeiting, treason, and piracy. Broun wasn’t specific, but he intimated that the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency, and Food and Drug Administration should be eliminated. Broun’s argument is that the main function of the federal government is national defense.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), recently said that Federal child labor laws are unconstitutional and claims that states have the right to regulate commerce and that the Federal government is usurping states’ authority. Lee doesn’t agree that the Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate commerce. His minimalist intellect fails to comprehend that the nature of the government is such that there must be a centralized authority to regulate commerce, transportation, and funding to keep the government in operation. It is simplistic thinking that each state legislate its own set of laws and still have a functioning Federal government. Lee and Broun are part of a group of Republicans who are anxious for a battle over the Tenth Amendment that outlines states’ rights. These “Tenthers” as they are called are a movement spawned from opponents of health care reform and false accusations that President Obama is forcing Socialism on states.

Although states are able to legislate and control some aspects of their existence within a larger government complex, there are some areas that require a central authority in spite of the belief of secession-minded tea party members and Republicans in Congress. Without Federal control of interstate commerce, transportation, law enforcement, and agencies like the FDA and Treasury Department, there would be dissimilar laws criminals could easily avoid by moving across a state boundary where the law is different or non-existent. Without a Federal justice system, a bank robber could drive across a state line because the neighboring state did not have jurisdiction over a crime committed in another state. Imagine no Federal Aviation laws that set standards for airline pilots where one backward state like Alaska that is lax on licensing would allow an airliner to be piloted by an inexperienced aviator. There is a reason the Federal government has purview over drug safety laws and food safety standards. Imagine too, a country where each state set the value of its own currency or its own transportation standards. The Founding Fathers didn’t foresee a highway or aviation system, but they configured the Constitution such that the Congress is able to pass legislation to regulate each of those important aspects of American life while adhering to principles in the document.

The tenthers may not comprehend that their benefactors are not individual states, but the corporations and banking industry that controls the narrative the tenthers are promoting. Eliminating federal child labor laws will benefit corporations because they could pay wages to children that were similar to China and India. The same circumstances would apply to the banking industry, financial industry, and food and drug industries if each state were allowed to set standards for business. Then there are environmental laws that the oil industry wants to eliminate. Corporations like Koch Energy Industry would pay off states that allowed them to operate without regard to clean air and water that the Federal government regulates now.

The Founding Fathers could not see into the future to account for every eventuality the country may face, or the technology that would require new laws. But they did comprehend that there would be advancements the government would have to address as they developed, so they made the Constitution a living document that wasn’t stuck in the 18th century. The Founders crafted the Constitution to give legislators latitude in making laws that could follow the principles of the document to protect citizens and not corporations. The Tenth Amendment is clear in outlining states’ rights versus federal laws, and it has worked well until the past 2 years.

Republicans and their neo-con masters have mischaracterized Obama as a Socialist to incite people to claim the Federal government is intruding on states’ rights, and they have succeeded in many areas. There is little doubt that Republicans want individual states to have dominion over the federal government because they can eliminate regulations if states are independent. If legislators are willing to call child labor laws, food and drug safety laws, interstate commerce laws, and federal law enforcement unconstitutional, it is not far-fetched to believe they will start seceding from the Union if the government enforces those laws.

However, it is corporations and the energy industry that want to destabilize the federal government in order to avoid regulations that protect the environment, consumers, and general well-being of the population. If anything in America today is unconstitutional, it is the push toward oligarchy that Republicans are making, and not child labor laws, the FDA, FBI, Departments of Agriculture and Education, EPA, and the Federal Reserve. If anything warrants elimination, it is the divisive conservative movement whose only interest is elevating corporate America and destroying the middle class.

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