Why the wingnuts’ Constitution fetish

Darrell Issa

John Boehner, Darrell Issa

Associated Press photos

Fascists John “Cry Me a River” Boehner and Darrell “Joseph McCarthy Jr.” Issa are pictured fetishizing the U.S. Constitution in Washington, D.C., yesterday.

It wasn’t very long ago that that wingnuts were fetishizing our “founding fathers.” The point of that exercise, of course, was to assert that only white men — the only true Americans, of course — should run the show here in the United States of America.

Maybe fetishizing our “founding fathers” was a bit too blatantly white supremacist and patriarchal, however, so now the wingnuts are fetishizing the more neutral, more impersonal U.S. Constitution.

Today’s jingoistic charade in which the new Repugnican majority of the U.S. House of Representatives led the recitation of the U.S. Constitution (instead of beginning to solve the nation’s serious problems) wholly was meant to give the impression that only the Repugnican Tea Party understands, values and follows the U.S. Constitution, as though the mere recitation of the document magically confers an embodiment of the document, just like mere recitation of the Bible is supposed to magically confer an embodiment of its contents.

“Republicans in charge of the chamber rattled [the Constitution] off with missionary zeal, as if in a school civics class,” The Associated Press notes,* and “missionary zeal” is appropriate, since the members of the Repugnican Tea Party claim to have the monopoly not only on patriotism and Americanism but also on Christianity.

I love the Constitution, but, just as we have wildly divergent versions of U.S. history, we have wildly divergent versions of the Constitution. Neither U.S. history nor the U.S. Constitution should be politicized, but, of course, they are. All the fucking time.

Where the U.S. Constitution is concerned, I fall in the “living document” camp. The document’s authors couldn’t possibly have known what challenges future generations would face, and I can’t see that the authors of the nation’s founding document intended to put future generations into a straitjacket — otherwise, they wouldn’t have provided for constitutional amendments and for a U.S. Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution.

Yes, besides constitutional amendments, there’s that little thing of U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The chief job of the nation’s highest court being to interpret the Constitution, constitutional law does not consist solely of the text of the Constitution, as the wingnuts allege, but also consists of a plethora of Supreme Court decisions.

For the wingnuts to claim to be The Keepers of the Constitution and to claim that only the Constitution itself comprises all constitutional law is not only inaccurate and propagandistic, but it’s dangerous as well, and their intention in falsely claiming so is to curtail, not to expand, freedoms and liberties in the United States of America.

The wingnuts want to drag us back to the “good old days” when, among other things, white men owned black slaves and women couldn’t vote. The wingnuts talk about freedom, but they intend that only certain people have freedom.

We allow the wingnuts to co-opt our Constitution (and our history) at our own peril.

Regarding their attempt to redefine what our nation is all about, we need to send the wingnuts this message loudly and clearly: Over our dead bodies.

*“Democrats pitched in [in the recitation], but with seemingly less ardor,” the AP immediately notes thereafter, and while surely the Repugnicans would claim that this is due to the Dems’ lack of patriotism, it’s actually due to the fact that most of the Dems know dangerous fascism, nationalism and jingoism when they see it. 

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