Opinion: Tea Party argues for the Constitution but forgets its content

Bryan Staul

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Bryan Staul

Bryan Staul is a sophomore political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]

The main argument of the Tea Party is that America has fallen off the course our founders intended. They use the Constitution as the guiding light of their movement. The Tea Party’s relationship with the Constitution will be highlighted when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gives a speech regarding the Constitution to Tea Party leaders.

I am glad to see a renewed interest in our governing document. Every citizen should strive to understand the intricacies of the Constitution. In my opinion, it is one of the greatest things ever written. However, there are some things those on the right seem to forget.

The Tea Party has advocated on behalf of states’ rights, which is fine. The Constitution does protect the states; however, it also places the final word with the federal government. It states that “the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”

This is the Supremacy Clause. The right seldom remembers that the Constitution was not America’s first founding document. Rather, it was the Articles of Confederation. The articles created a weak central government and vested power in the states — the result was chaos.

America was consumed by rebellion after rebellion. Since the federal government lacked the authority to tax, it left the country in financial ruin, and the government was unable to fund a proper military, leaving America vulnerable during a time of uncertainty.

The founders realized the need for a central authority and ultimately created the Constitution so that America could properly function. Another argument of the right is that President Obama’s policies, particularly the healthcare bill, violate the constitution. The right ignores the fact that there is indeed a constitutional basis for the healthcare bill.

This is the Commerce Clause, and it gives Congress the authority “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States.” The healthcare system undoubtedly falls into this. The Commerce Clause and Supremacy Clause also have had a long history of rulings in the courts.

The issue of the states’ ability to push the federal government around was essentially settled during the Civil War, and we all know how that ended. The right needs to remember the constitution is a complex and extraordinary document, and you cannot pick and choose which amendments support your political ideology.

The Constitution was written out of a fundamental need to create and perfect our great union and to provide proper balance. It was a realistic approach towards those who govern and the governed.

Our Constitution does not belong to a party it, belongs to every American.