The Republican party, mindful of its role as a supplicant before the voting public, issued a “Pledge to America.” Not to be outdone, the presumably more militant St. Louis and Jefferson County Tea Party groups are offering potential allies a “Treaty,” which, one assumes, affirms the Tea Party’s deepest, most profound principles. Needless to say, it’s a very simple document.
The first of the three provisions, calling for the repeal of The Affordable Care Act (ACA), is the most specific, which is not surprising since the Tea Party’s first raison d’etre was squashing health care reform:
1) I believe that the Health Care Reform bill (Affordable Care Act) should be immediately repealed as an un-Constitutional extension of governmental powers according to Article I of the US Constitution, and thus a burden on the people’s rights as recognized by the 9th Amendment.
While we are all sick and tired of pointing out that attacking the ACA on constitutional grounds is spurious, the Tea Party is not likely to cease and desist anytime soon. Such claims lend a veneer of legitimacy to the whole corporate-orchestrated cacophony. Besides, who knows whether or not the efforts of the Roberts Court to, as TAP puts it, “repeal the 20th century” may yet bear the intended rotten fruit.
The language of the provision, though, is not especially artful. To say that extending health insurance to millions of people is a “burden” on our constitutional rights is akin to saying that dying untreated because one lacks the means to pay is an inalienable right.
Just why are these crusaders so worked up about the ACA? The answer is easy – they’ve got that old time pocketbook religion – which brings us to the second provision:
2) I believe the government should reduce taxes and cut spending, as a rejection of the Keynesian model of economics. Government should be fiscally responsible with the people’s dime.
A quasi-religious manifesto, which is what the “Treaty” is, need not justify assumptions shared by those to whom it is directed. So, if you ask why we should reject Keynesian economics, which have arguably served us well during the past century, expect to get uncomprehending stares and a few indignant, conservative economic cliches, along with lots of poorly-digested babble about “freedom.”
The concept of “fiscally responsible,” though, really does need to be reclaimed by the linguistically responsible. It does not necessarily mean gutting progressive taxation and cutting social spending. It could just as eaily mean right-sizing taxes and spending in order to meet goals approved by the majority. And by majority I don’t mean the loudest, which would be the Tea Party, but the plurality that voted for Obama, the same majority that, for example, either aproves of the ACA, or disapproves because it hasn’t gone far enough.
The final provision brings up the last article of faith in the trinitarian Tea Party theology:
3) I believe that we should reduce the federal bureaucracy. The size and scope of federal regulation endangers all liberty, and hinders accountability to the public.
Does this mean repealing regulations that affect food safety? Or drilling regulations that, if they had been place, would have prevented the Gulf oil spill? How about financial regulations that would have prevented the crisis in 2007? There are endless examples of beneficial regulation; what kind of fool signs a blanket proviso to scrap them? If you answer seriously deluded industry dupe, you might be on to something. And, while we’re on the topic, do the authors of this document even know what “accountability” means?
In short, which it mercifully is, the “Treaty” confirms the suspicion that the Tea Party is nothing more than lots of “sound and furry, signifying nothing.” However, the propensity of the media to treat their antics with a civility that Tea Partiers themselves rarely exhibit might help boost an essentially empty exercise into a useful tool for rallying the dessicated (as in middle aged and older) right arm of the GOP. We’ll learn in November just how effective gimmicks like the “Treaty” have been.