Wednesday, January 30, 2013

That's one way to do it...

It's no secret that a lot of people are upset about federal power reaching in to control state legislatures. While the newest pushes are in health care and gun control, with gay marriage and abortion rights on the sidelines for now, these are issues that we've been debating since our founding.

At the founding of our nation, it was decided that the state and federal governments would share power, that one could not enforce laws that violated the laws of the other. Stricter laws were always recognized before looser ones. In fact, our founding fathers rejected plans that would have placed more power in the hands of the states than the central government. If you need further evidence of this, look to the Federalist Papers, which conveniently explain (in the words of the founders, no less) how they wanted a strong centralized government.

But that's not enough, ironically, for Tea Partiers who hypocritically claim to value the wisdom of our founding by rejecting federal power. Mississippi is the latest state where the TP is pushing for a full rejection of federal oversight, and they're taking a few step beyond anyone else by trying to set up a panel of state lawmakers with the authority to pick and choose which federal laws and guidelines the state will follow.

Not only is it a rejection of our founding principles, but it's also extremely unconstitutional. The federal government is the law of the land, and a part of that land does not have the authority to ignore them. The debate between federal and state powers is a useful one to have, but actions like this are meant to end the debate once and for all and pick a winner. The point of these arguments, though, is not for one side to win but for both sides to have their voices heard in equal measure and for policy and progress to be made that reflects both points of view.

This is an underlying issue with the Tea Party. They are not interested in compromise, the force that has driven our democracy forward for the last 200+ years. They are not interested in debating and listening to those who disagree with them. They want to win, they want to be the only ones left, and they want their views to be the only ones that matter. It's that disastrous, un-American, and un-Democratic philosophy that is, in my view, causing so much stress in Congress, and what is driving our nation mad with crazy crap like this.

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