It is normal for people to have nostalgia for a specific time in their life that is filled with fond memories and idealized perception whether they are real or imagined. For adults, it may be a simpler time without the strife of working, raising a family, and struggling to get by, and for children it may be tender recollections of Santa Clause or family vacations that left an indelible mark on their psyche. On January 21, 2009, many Americans had nostalgia for a time when a white man occupied the Oval Office, and within a month the nostalgia inspired a movement that produced the tea party. Teabaggers began protesting against higher taxes, loss of freedoms, and overreaching government control of their gun rights although none of those issues carried any validity whatsoever. However, the tea party movement did not begin in 2009; it began in 1861 with the birth of the Confederacy of Southern States.
The opposition to the Federal government by teabaggers is closely related to the “Tenther Movement” and both groups yearn for an era when states left the Union over efforts to stop the expansion of slavery. Although slavery is not the primary issue with the teabaggers and tenthers, it was the election of Barack Obama that instigated the notion that the Federal government was imposing its will unfairly on the states. This has led to many objections to Federal laws as being unconstitutional because rich industrialists have convinced ignorant citizens that state laws take precedence over Federal laws. Much of the blame has been heaped on the tea party, but the Republican Party and their wealthy corporate masters are behind the movements and are promoting the ridiculous notion that many programs and federal laws are unconstitutional.
Some of the laws that Republicans have called unconstitutional are the federal minimum wage, Social Security and Medicare, child labor laws, the EPA, and just about any law that does not give advantages to the wealthy and their corporations. There are even those who seek to change the first amendment’s separation of church and state in favor of a “Christian nation” religious mandate that teabaggers believe will lead to a family values oriented nation. The aversion to the Constitution has engendered support for a Constitutional Convention to start over to reshape the nation to fit their idealized vision of America.
Their vision, though, will mean 50 states with disparate laws dependent on the whims of racists, religious fundamentalists, and vile corporatists whose idea of government consist of privatization of every segment of society. If the tenthers were to prevail and the federal government is dissolved; who are the losers? Every citizen in America will suffer so the wealthy industrialists and corporations can conduct their business without government regulations. In the process, elderly people will lose their retirement they paid in to the entire working lives as well as their Medicare health insurance they paid for. Disaster relief will disappear, food safety inspections will cease, the highway system will fall apart, and education will become a thing of the past. Possibly the biggest losers will be people of color, gays, and women because the states that boast large populations of Christian fundamentalists will impose Draconian laws denying the civil rights and equal protections guaranteed in the Fourteenth Amendment that was a direct result of the Civil War. There are myriad scenarios to discuss regarding Republican aversion to the Constitution and they will be covered in future columns. It is important, though, to identify the group most responsible for pushing to delete the Constitution in favor of 50 individual state governments.
After the 112th Congress began, many people blamed the tea party for the agenda Republicans have pursued and they are not entirely wrong; but they are wrong. The tea party is having an impact on the government because Republicans and their rich corporations allowed them to exist. There is no doubt that the teabaggers’ agenda of collapsing the federal government in favor of 50 individual countries that was the United States is a centerpiece of the hard right neo-conservative agenda, but their agenda is shared by the Republican Party.
In lieu of federal laws regulating commerce, protecting individual liberty, and Congress’ responsibility to levy taxes and provide for the general welfare of the country, Republicans yearn for unregulated business that allows corporations to pay workers a dollar-an-hour, pollute the environment, and avoid paying any taxes on their earnings. The tenther movement and tea party adherents are most likely unaware of Republicans’ motivations, but they will be aware when their freedoms are gone and they live in squalor so the wealthy can continue living in opulence.
It is time to stop placing blame for the horrible situation the country is in on the tea party alone. The corporatist agenda began long before President Obama was inaugurated and the tenther movement originated before the Civil War. It is Republicans who are behind the tenther movement and they are using the teabaggers to incite opposition to the federal government and the protections the Constitution provides citizens against people like the Koch brothers and their wealthy corporate supporters. It only takes a brief perusal of the government programs Republicans claim are unconstitutional to see that the only winners are the wealthy and their corporations. Republicans hate taxes on the wealthy, but they love that working-class Americans provide a steady supply of tax dollars to hand over to the rich and the oil industry. Republicans have assailed Social Security because it is holding $2.7 trillion in reserve that they want to hand over to the wealthy. They could care less if individual states could not provide a retirement income to elderly Americans, but they do care that the money is not being funneled into the wealthy’s bank accounts.
Political pundits have said that the next election will be to decide what kind of country America will be and if Republicans have their way, there will not be a country. The GOP is using the tenthers, teabaggers, and disgruntled religious fanatics to break the federal government and make 50 independent countries that will be powerless to stop a corporatist takeover. If one carefully examines the federal laws Republicans claim are unconstitutional, they will discover that the only winners are the rich and their corporations. The Confederacy broke away over abolition of slavery, but their arguments were centered on state’s rights over the federal government. The tea party is an extension of the Confederacy and they have been handily manipulated by Republicans, neo-conservatives, libertarians, and corporatists whose sole intention is to break the Union and its laws that protect Americans who are not part of the wealthy class.
The Constitution has worked for Americans since its inception, but it is in jeopardy of falling victim to neo-conservatives who could care less about state’s rights or individual liberty. If the Constitution is dismantled at the behest of teabaggers, tenthers, and Republicans, corporatism and oligarchy will be unleashed to the detriment of every person in America. The Union has lasted because of the Constitution and the document is all that stands in the way of oligarchy worse than it is today. It is tragic that the teabaggers are so easily manipulated into working to break America into 50 little kingdoms, but that is the end result if Republicans are not stopped. State’s rights are all well and good, but America needs a centralized government to protect Americans from predatory corporatists and religious fanatics. Americans must ask themselves that when Republicans claim laws and programs are unconstitutional; who are they protecting? They should also consider; who wins if individual state’s laws take precedence over federal protections, programs, and laws? Perhaps if teabaggers and tenthers take a closer look at who benefits from a loose confederation of states, they may discover that they are working toward a horrible scenario. However, teabaggers, like the Confederacy of Southern States, are so blinded by greed, bigotry, and fundamentalism that they will be crushed and it will not be the Federal government who decimates them; it will be wealthy corporatists who control the Republican Party and there will be no centralized government to protect them. They should be careful what they wish for because they are perilously close to inciting their own demise.