I learned today that one of the items in the tea party grab-bag is repeal of the 17th Amendment. In other words, they want to go back to having U.S. senators chosen by state legislatures instead of voters. Evan McMorris-Santoro writes:
The “Repeal The 17th” movement is a vocal part of the overall tea party structure. Supporters of the plan say that ending the public vote for Senators would give the states more power to protect their own interests in Washington (and of course, give all of us “more liberty” in the process.)
If you feel a need to go take your blood pressure meds, I’ll wait.
McMorris-Santoro describes some Republican politicians caught between trying to appease the Baggers by rubber stamping their agenda and trying not to frighten away general election voters, who tend to be, you know, sane.
But if the tea baggers think the Senate is too “elitist” and corrupt now, just wait until Senate seats go back to being plums handed to cronies, fundraisers and relatives.
Really, this does reveal how twisted wingnut psychology has become. Even as they march around screaming about ending elitism and supporting freedom, their actions support elitism and diminish freedom. They are authoritarians spouting anti-authoritarian rhetoric in the service of authoritarianism.
I began a recent post by referring to James Madison’s Federalist #10. You might remember that much of the Federalist Papers amount to Madison, Hamilton and Jay reassuring people that a representative republic would not turn into “mob rule.” Most of the founders were well-educated, moneyed aristocrats — the elites of their time — and the last thing they wanted was for an uneducated rabble to be able to choose leaders and make policy.
Thus, senators were chosen by the states, and the Electoral College was envisioned as a panel of Wise Elitist Men who would choose the president and vice president instead of voters. That’s not how it turned out, but that’s what it originally was supposed to be.
One suspects that if the founders saw the state of politics today, they would have set up a monarchy.
I thought of those old dead aristocratic white guys yesterday when I read about the tea baggers at the Maine GOP convention who trashed the classroom in which they were caucusing:
The Republican convention was at the Portland Expo, but participants went to the nearby King Middle School to hold their caucuses. While there, they went through eighth-grade teacher Paul Cliffordâ€™s items, opened sealed boxes, stole a prized poster, and vandalized the room with Republican slogans. Some details on what they did:
â€“ For seven years, Clifford has had â€œa collage-type poster depicting the history of the U.S. labor movementâ€ on his classroom door. He uses it â€œto teach his students how to incorporate collages into their annual project on Norman Rockwellâ€™s historic â€˜Four Freedomsâ€™ illustrations.â€ When Clifford returned to his classroom on Monday, after the GOP caucuses, the poster was gone; in its place was a sticker reading, â€œWorking People Vote Republican.â€
â€“ Republicans opened a â€œclosed cardboard box they found near Cliffordâ€™s deskâ€ and later objected to the fact that it contained copies of the U.S. Constitution donated to the school by the American Civil Liberties Union.
â€“ After the caucuses, â€œrank-and-file Republicans who were upset by what they said they had seen in Cliffordâ€™s classroomâ€ began calling the school, objecting to student art they had seen and a sticker on a filing cabinet reading â€œPeople for the American Way â€” Fight the Right.â€
I bet that’s one classroom full of kids who will grow up to be liberals.
Elsewhere — I found a column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about the recent primaries in Ohio that made some interesting points. The Ohio “establishment” candidates soundly trounced the “tea bag” candidates, and the columnist noted that it’s in caucuses and conventions that tea baggers most effectively promote their candidates. We really haven’t yet seen that the tea baggers can consistently deliver elections. The Massachusetts “miracle” of Scott Brown winning Ten Kennedy’s seat may have been a fluke, IMO, caused by a very poor Dem candidate — apparently widely disliked in the state — losing narrowly to a Republican who is proving to be less radical than the tea baggers would like.