Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The Constitutional Accountability Center this week launched a new project, Strange Brew: The Constitution According to the Tea Party, to take on Tea Party claims about the U.S. Constitution. Its first publication in the project, an issue brief titled Setting the Record Straight: The Tea Party and the Constitutional Powers of the Federal Government, by Elizabeth Wydra and David Gans, challenges claims by Tea Partiers and others that "our Constitution created a sharply limited national government and that the modern federal government vastly oversteps those limits."
Here's a taste of Wydra and Gans's response:
Contrary to Tea Party claims, the Founders created a federalism that allowed for a significant role for states and local governments, but created a strong central government with sufficient power to govern a united country. . . . As made clear in the Constitution's soaring Preamble, our Founders invested federal lawmakers with broad powers to promote the "common defense" and "general welfare" of "we the people of the United States."
The Tea Party story about our sharply limited national government is not only inconsistent with the words and intentions of our Founding generation, but it also requires a form of selective amnesia about the important changes made to the Constitution by successive generations of Americans. Since the Founding, the American people, at critical moments in our country's history, have amended the Constitution and added to Congress's express constitutional powers, ensuring Congress has all the tools it needs to address national problems and protect the constitutional rights of all Americans. Indeed, most of the amendments added to the Constitution during the 19th and 20th Centuries expanded the power of the federal government. The Tea Party's reading of the Constitution depends on ignoring or repealing these critical amendments.