This is my attempt at blogging. I'm still learning about the blogging world, and this is my own personal study hall.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Argh! The Tea Party, Limited Government, and States' Rights. Or: What happened to the freakin' Constitution?

Wendy Kaminer writes in the Atlantic that the Tea Party does not live up to its purported ideals of limited government. No kidding? Who knew?

Unfortunately, in making her point, she very badly falls into the trap of the Tea Partiers' (and Reagan-Bush II-Cheney Republicans') definitions of the terms she is trying to pry out of their hands.

Read the article, and (I hope) you'll understand what I mean.

Here's my take on it, as I wrote in the comments:

"Only a minority of libertarians (some of whom can be found at the CATO Institute) are consistent in their commitment to individual freedom and an unregulated marketplace."

Why does it have to be all or nothing in order to be consistent? Federal intervention in the market can be defined (and manifested) in different ways. Regulation is NOT the same thing as corporate welfare or takeovers of whole industries. Setting fair-play rules when corporations run by elites affect the lives of individuals in all 50 states is not necessarily anti-Federalist (at least not as far over the line as bailouts or corporate takeovers). And government recognition of marriage - at all - is as anti-Federalist as government restriction on some marriages. As a fundamentally religious institution, marriage ought not be dealt with by the federal government at all. If the government wants to promote higher birth-rates and finds it better for children to grow up in a family environment, then let's have tax policies that favor family units over non-family models of child-rearing, and let's have a political debate over what defines a "family". But let the government stay out of defining marriage altogether.

There needs to be a serious debate about what role the federal government has in a society that is supposed to be made up of "the several States", as our Constitution refers to them over and over. Simultaneously, and not necessarily independently, there needs to be a serious, renewed debate about States' rights, what that means, what the limitations are, and what the limitations are on the federal government's reach into states' affairs.

And, hello? Doesn't anyone ever read the 9th or 10th amendments? Or do they get confused by the 7th, gloss over the 8th ("Yeah, Cruel and Unusual Punishment is bad; I get that") and then quit?

Just as a follow-up point, it turns out that Christine O'Donnell doesn't know what the Constitution says. There's a shocker.

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