Thursday, December 01, 2011

Founding Principles

Many thanks too Richard Latimer of Falmouth, for his brilliant letter to the Boston Globe this morning. I am taking the liberty of copying the entire piece here, because it is short enough to fall within Fair Use and because it is important enough to have a life online after the usual expiration of online letters sections.

It ran on today's Editorial page under the title

Anti-tax pledge drove Republicans from duty to serve

JOSHUA GREEN attempts to blame the Democrats for Republican obstructionism in assessing the budget impasse (“Picking up pieces after ‘super’ fail,’’ Op-ed, Nov. 24). Try reading both the congressional oath of office and Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge before laying blame here. Governing a democratic society is necessarily about pragmatic compromise, where many diverse interests must be harmonized.

“We the people,’’ contrary to the libertarian ideology of rugged individualism, is a collectivity, as are the common defense and general welfare listed in the preamble to the Constitution. That collectivity is what every member of Congress is sworn to serve when taking the oath of office, to “bear true faith and allegiance’’ to the Constitution, and to do so “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.’’

The mindless Norquist pledge, however, requires both a mental reservation and ideological evasion as it pertains to Congress’s fundamental duty to pay the national debt by raising revenues, as stated in Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution. Ideologically driven Republican intransigence against this clear congressional mandate is what drives the budget impasse.

Richard K. Latimer

The essential message here is that the Constitution should guide members of Congress, all too many of whom seem to be guided primarily by Norquist's political playbook and Ayn Rand's fantasies. Libertarianism as currently practiced is closer to anarchy than it is to conservatism and closer to nihilism than to patriotism. Actual conservative Republicans (and many millions still exist) who wonder why their party is increasingly distrusted and even reviled should consider how far certain "movement" members of their party have departed from the country's founding principles and from the ideals of the party's great leaders, from Lincoln to Roosevelt to Eisenhower.

1 comment:

  1. Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform extract a pledge from conservative members of Congress not to vote for any kind of tax increase on penalty of having that fact publicized to conservative members of the electorate for the purpose of impairing the lawmakers' chances of reelection. It is amazing to me that members of Congress have allowed themselves to be subjected to such intimidation and outright blackmail for all these years. It is time for it to stop. Members of Congress have to be free to vote their consciences.

    Sec. 22-3252 of the D.C. criminal code has an expansive description of the offense of blackmail that reads as follows:

    Section 22-3252 Blackmail
    (a) A person commits the offense of blackmail, if, with intent to obtain property of another or to cause another to do or refrain from doing any act, that person threatens:
    (1) To accuse any person of a crime;
    (2) To expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule; or
    (3) To impair the reputation of any person, including a deceased person.
    (b) Any person convicted of blackmail shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.

    Consider how many Senators and Representatives have signed the pledge and/or have felt threatened by Norquist's threat to publicize the names of everyone who declines to sign it. That adds up to a lot of counts (and a large amount of potential fines and jail time), even if a short statute of limitations applies.

    The beauty of seeking to prosecute Norquist and his organization for blackmailing Congress is that it does not require Congress to do anything. All that it needed is for a member of Congress (perhaps Sen. Tom Coburn and/or retiring Rep. Barney Frank?) to sign a complaint against Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform or for the D.C. D.A., to get a grand jury to indict him and his organization.


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