Tea Party Gets the Constitution Wrong

Exclusive: The Tea Partiers love to cite the U.S. Constitution as supporting their contempt for the federal government. But they don’t realize that the Constitution represented the most important assertion of central authority in American history, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

It is now an article of faith in the Tea Party and on the American Right that the Founders wrote the U.S. Constitution to restrict the power of the federal government and protect states’ rights. But that analysis is simply wrong.

Like any government document, the Constitution can only be understood in the context of what it replaced – and why. The Constitution superseded the Articles of Confederation, which guided the new country starting in 1777. The Articles granted broad authority to the states with only a weak national government.

As the Revolutionary War wore on and during the early years of peace, many American leaders – including George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson – came to view the Articles as unworkable and a threat to the survival of the new nation.

The Continental Army was especially disdainful of the Articles because they didn’t grant taxing authority to the national government and thus – when the states reneged on promised funding, which they did frequently – soldiers were left without pay and munitions.

The answer to this political crisis took shape in 1786 with a growing movement for a much stronger federal government, leading to secret meetings in Philadelphia in 1787 to draft a new governing document, the Constitution.

The Constitution created the framework for a powerful federal authority that could not only declare war and negotiate treaties, but could tax, print money, regulate interstate commerce and undertake a host of other governing activities.

Besides the sweeping federal authority delineated by the Constitution, the document also dropped key language from the Articles of Confederation that had suggested the supremacy of the states.

The Articles had described the United States not as a government or even a nation, but as “a firm league of friendship” among the states “for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare.”

If that suggestion of the states’ supremacy wasn’t clear enough, the Confederation’s Article II declared: “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated.” And very few powers were delegated to the federal government.

That powerful states’ rights language was either eliminated by the Constitution or substantially watered down.

The Tenth Amendment Argument

Tea Party activists will often cite the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution as evidence that the Founders were strong advocates for states’ rights, since it says “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

But again the Tea Partiers are missing the point. The Constitution granted broad powers to the federal government – even the regulation of national commerce – so there were far fewer powers left for the states. The Tenth Amendment amounted to a sop to mollify the anti-federalist bloc that was trying to block ratification of the Constitution by the 13 states.

To further appreciate how modest the Tenth Amendment concession was, you also must compare its wording with Article II of the Confederation. Remember, Article II says “each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence,” while the Tenth Amendment simply says powers not granted to the federal government “are reserved to the States” or individuals.

Stripped out of the new national governing document were the principles of state “sovereignty” and state “independence.” In effect, American “sovereignty” had been transferred to the Republic that the Constitution had created. States were no longer dominant; they were subordinate to “we the people” as represented in the “union,” the United States of America.

Of course, the anti-federalists did not entirely go away, especially when it became clear to the agrarian South that its economic model, based on slavery, was losing ground to the growing industrial power of the North and the influence of the emancipation movement.

In the early 1830s, Southern politicians led the “nullification” challenge to the federal government, asserting that states had the right to nullify federal laws, such as a tariff on manufactured goods. But they were beaten back by President Andrew Jackson who threatened to deploy troops to South Carolina to enforce the federal supremacy established by the Constitution.

In December 1832, Jackson denounced the “nullifiers” and declared ”the power to annul a law of the United States, assumed by one State, incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which it was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed.”

Jackson also rejected as “treason” the notion that states could secede if they wished, noting that the Constitution “forms a government not a league,” a reference to the line in the Articles of Confederation that had termed the fledgling United States ”a firm league of friendship” among the states, not a government.

The nullification crisis was defused, but a few decades later, the South’s continued resistance to the constitutional preeminence of the federal government led to secession and the formation of the Confederacy. It took the Union’s victory in the Civil War to firmly settle the issue of the sovereignty of the national Republic over the states.

However, the defeated South still balked at the principle of equal rights for blacks and invoked “states’ rights” to defend segregation during the Jim Crow era. White Southerners had amassed enough political clout, especially within the Democratic Party, to fend off civil rights for blacks.

Ending Segregation

The battle over states’ rights was joined again in the 1950s when the federal government finally committed itself to enforcing the principle of “equal protection under the law” as prescribed by the Fourteenth Amendment. Many white Southerners were furious that their system of segregation was being dismantled by federal authority.

The South’s anger was reflected in the prevalence of the Confederate battle flag on pickup trucks and in store windows. White Southerners were expressing the bravado of secession even if it was more tough talk than anything real.

Gradually, the American Right retreated from outright support of racial segregation and muffled the threats of secession (although the idea still surfaces once in a while as it did in recent comments by Texas Gov. Rick Perry).

Instead, the Right has sought to impose a reinterpretation of the Constitution by revising the history of the United States and pretending that the Founders designed the Constitution as a document to establish the supremacy of the states over the federal government.

This revisionist view is now at the heart of the Tea Party movement and has powerful propaganda support from the right-wing news media. Since few Americans understand the reasons for the Constitution – or the fact that it represented a major consolidation of federal power – this right-wing disinformation campaign has proved effective.

Tea Party activists add to the misimpression about the Founders’ intent by dressing in Revolutionary War costumes and channeling the Founders’ supposed hatred of the federal government. The Tea Partiers wave “Don’t Tread on Me” flags as if the American revolutionaries were addressing that to their own government, not the British colonialists.

(Interestingly, the Tea Partiers ignore another common banner of the era, showing a serpent representing the 13 colonies cut into pieces with the instruction, “join or die.” That banner recognized the need of the disparate American states to cooperate as one nation or perish.)

The Right’s so-called “originalist” thinking about the Constitution – how the Founders allegedly disdained federal authority – also ignores the fact that nearly all the Founders were advocates of replacing the Articles of Confederation (the state sovereignty document) with the Constitution.

Among its biggest advocates was George Washington who commanded the Continental Army when it was hamstrung by the lack of resources caused by the absence of federal taxing authority in the Articles of Confederation. Washington presided at the Constitutional Convention and was elected the nation’s first president under the Constitution.

Though the Tea Party doesn’t want to admit it – and it is an inconvenient truth for the American Right – the Constitution represented the most important expansion of federal power in American history.

[For more on these topics, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep, now available in a two-book set for the discount price of only $19. For details, click here.]

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book,Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

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56 comments on “Tea Party Gets the Constitution Wrong

  1. Pingback: Tea Party Gets the Constitution Wrong | Tea Party Movement

  2. You ignored one minor fact: There was a war over strong central govt vs. state rights early on. Guess who won? It was Jefferson’s state rights platform that destroyed the federalist party who advocated strong federal supremacy over the states. What we are dealing with today is not a powerful federal govt by constitutional design, but with federal corruption and fraud pretending to be a valid exercise of constitutional authority.

    • Ernest Spoon on said:

      Yes, James. And like Jefferson Davis during the Civil War, who by war’s end had become a virtual dictator over a highly centralized government in Richmond, Thomas Jefferson changed his mind about the role of the federal government.

    • L Holland on said:

      What destroyed Hamilton’s Federalist Party was not so much the states’ rights platform but its own aristocratic leanings. Many of its principles were carried forward, however. The protective tariff, tax law, monetary policy and regulation of interstate commerce all came to life during or soon after the Civil War.

      • Salvatore DiChristina on said:

        But Hamilton’s ideas established our credentials as a sovereign country, unbeholden to any European power, by honoring and paying our debts to the penny from money garnered by tariffs.

        Just a slight codicil about the “Free Enterprise System”. There never has been such a system. We put a fleet on the high seas to protect commercial interests, we passed import and export taxes, taxes that usually benefitted our commercial interests. In the last two centuries corporations have found that collusion is a much better economic force than competition,

    • The main reason the Federalist Party collapsed was the Hartford Convention during the 1812 war, during which several northeastern federalist states strongly considered seceding.

      The stronger federal government policy ended up in the Whig party by the 1830′s, but again – another loser! Gone by the mid 1850′s. :( I would have been a proud Whig back in those days. Who else was a proud Whig? Lincoln.

    • Alex Brandt on said:

      But it was also James Madison, John Jay and Alexander Hamilton that between the three of them wrote 77 essays now known as “The Federalist Papers” that eventually swayed the American public to ratify the US Constitution. Also, it was a Republican President Abraham Lincoln that oversaw the biggest expansion of federal power over the states since the ratification of the US constitution during the Civil War. In the 1860′s the Republican Party actually had a very progressive/liberal platform. They demanded Federal government spending to build a rail road to the Pacific coast and they believed in equality for all. Where is that party today?

      • Andy in PDX on said:

        The Republican Party of Lincoln and Eisenhower has been “Reaganized” into something far worse than Reagan, who would likely be a “centrist” Democrat today … like the Clintons, Obama, and Lieberman … centrist in quotes because they are actually right wing Democrats, the Center having been pushed far to the right by the “liberal” right-wing media.

        In truth, there are no really radical left-wingers in today’s politics; people labeled as such are mostly moderates with slight left leanings.

        • You must be crazy. No. You are crazy. You wouldn’t know a leftist/communist/pinko from a organ-grinder monkey.

          • The Bopper on said:

            It’s truly ironic, that the republican party, who has on EVERY occasion sent every job possible to communist China and told us over and over how good it is for this country, could question anyone’s definition of “left-wing”. Literally everyone who tries to cut our dependence on Communist China and stop the outsourcing of jobs to them is called a “left-wing” radical. (G)eorge (O)rwell (P)arty would be proud.

      • Salvatore DiChristina on said:

        And let us not forget the scandals during the “Age of the Moguls” when the definition of an politician “is one, when bought, stays bought”.

    • todays federal government is not corrupt. the tea party looks at any governmental attempt at economic regulation or involvement to improve our country’s situation as a corrupt infringement on the rights of individuals and states. i think the most damage the tea party has done is it has destroyed our country’s confidence in the national government’s ability to govern effectively, quite justifiable in some respects due to the lack of ability of the two parties to agree on anything. its radical right wingers like the tea party who are refusing to compromise on anything the president suggests, all in an effort to make him look like an idiot at the expense of the country.

      • Andy in PDX on said:

        Actually, Reagan started the destruction when he convinced people that “Government is the problem”. Government serves an important purpose in a civilized society, and we are becoming less civilized every day.

        • UnecessaryEvil on said:

          Funny because Government has actually doubled since the days of Reagan. So government is to blame for the “less civilized” country we live in, by your view.

          • But since gov’t has doubled, population has quadrupled and GDP has grown 12 fold. Technology has introduced new environmental realities and ethical dilemmas.

            Gov’t has doubled. Ok–but has it kept up? Using a butter-knife as a screwdriver was fine when it was only needed sparingly… Still there are some that want to go back to the good ole days…

            Meanwhile, taxes on the top 1% have gone from 28% of their income, to ~18%. Their incomes have grown MANYFOLD! And taxes on corporations have fallen to record lows, while their profits are at all time highs. Still no jobs…

            Believing that gov’t can do nothing right, then campaigning to be a part of it, so that you can prove it from the inside–that’s just a moronic contradiction. It’s also quite depressing that so many fall for it…

    • Johnathan Mann on said:

      What federal corruption and fraud are you speaking of?

    • James,
      I appreciate your concern about honesty in the federal government, but could you please cite specific examples of proven corruption and fraud by the federal government?

    • David Smith on said:

      And you forgot the trouble we had under the Articles of Confederation. We replace that weak piece of garbage with the Constitution.

    • Salvatore DiChristina on said:

      I agree. What I find inconsistent and rather humorous, if not for the seriousness of the situation, is where were the believers of the state rightists during the Bush/Gore presidential conflict? Article 10 does state “any power not expressly given to the federal government is re4served to the states”. No where in the Constitution does it mention the federal government has any say in determini9ng the qualifications for voting, the conducting of elections, the counting of the votes in an election and the process to be used to determine the outcomes of close elections. All those powers are “reserved to the states”. Florida was conducting the recount according to the process established by Florida law. I did not hear the extreme right screaming about too much federal, big government interference then. Just another example of the right flip-flopping.

    • Hammersmith on said:

      It is with mixed feelings I view the collapse of Amerika, but mostly positive.

  3. Pingback: Chester County Democratic Committee » Tea Party Gets the Constitution Wrong

  4. Thomas Higgins on said:

    Back in the early years of the invasion and occupation of Iraq right wing war mongers and supporters like to both condemn the UN as obsolete while using the UN resolution to disarm Saddem to justify the invasion and occupation. So it is no surprise that the right also has faulty logic when it comes to the US Constitution.

  5. Jym Allyn on said:

    The TeaBag movement has been funded by the very rich oil industry. What the gullible TeaBaggers fail to realize is that the success of our economy came initially from the vast riches of the country once we had institutionalized genocide of the Native Americans and then from the REGULATED Free Enterprise that kept the companies developing those resources from becoming abusive monopolies.
    It is the lack of regulation and the unaccountably of abusive monopolies that are the major source of our country’s problems.

    • Agreed…the “institutionalization of genocide” is yet another policy you can lay at the feet of andrew jackson and his version of “federalism”. This was a good article other than painting andrew jackson as a proponent of the federalist platform. Andrew jackson was more of a populist, utilitarian, who used the federalist argument to advance his often despicable cause. He was the one who laid the groundwork for one of our most embarrasing and infamous crimes against the native americans, the “trail of tears”. And agin his destruction of hamiltons national bank was nothing short of treasonous.

      • Andy in PDX on said:

        It goes _way_ back, long before Andrew Jackson. It started almost immediately, when Columbus landed on the Caribbean islands, and has happened throughout the Americas. We rarely hear about it, but he took native slaves back to Spain on his first trip. The Virginia settlers of 1607 also started killing natives fairly soon after their arrival, as did the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Then there’s the devastation of smallpox, and other white man’s diseases for which the natives had no antibodies.

        • This howard zinn version of history you are spouting is counterproductive and innacurate. You can’t paint everyone who settled in what would become the united states with th same brush. Many settlers lived in peace with the native americans and not all of the leading figures in the government were hostile to the rights of native americans. The hostilities went both ways and are not as black and white as you are trying to paint it.

          • Ghost Dancer on said:

            The hostilities went both ways?!?!?!?! You mean the hostility the natives showed towards the illegal immigrants that came and took over their lands. And not all of the leading figures were hostile to the rights of native americans?!?!?!?! No, just enough to nearly inhilate them and the few that remained were forced on to worthless land that the new comers did not want…and then if they changed their minds they just pushed them on to smaller worthless piece of lands. The “settlers” probably would not have survived without the help of the native peoples…if only they had had more foresight…

    • bruce brinkmann on said:

      W.T.F. are you talking about? Since you think you are an expert at fixing the blame, how do we fix the problem?

  6. Pingback: Tea Party Gets the Constitution Wrong : Sierra Voices

  7. Pingback: Tea Party Gets the Constitution Wrong | Consortiumnews | Friends Against Political Extremism

  8. The Tea Party may claim to want to get back down to constitutional basics, but it’s real intent is to dismantle ANY central authority, and instate the Financial Elite as the ruling power in this country. And, for whatever reason, we’ve believed their promises of “jobs”, and we’re letting them take over.

    • Correct…

    • Andy in PDX on said:

      That’s primarily because the Tea Party is being controlled by the elitist Koch Brothers, even though most of them claim to be “grassroots”. Right-wing extremist groups that are heavily financed by the Kochs and other rich people are framing the rhetoric. What’s the source of the Koch’s political ideas? Their father was one of the founders of the John Birch Society!

      Large industries, like Koch Industries, do not create jobs … if anything they are consolidating and cutting back the number of employees … or shipping jobs overseas. Large companies are trying to get more work out of less people. Most job creation is done by small businesses and start-ups. Those people have little money to expand, or demand for their products, because most Americans don’t have the money to buy anything beyond basic needs.

      • Chris Bieber on said:

        Typical socialist regurgitation…and just as unpleasant.

        “large industried like Koch Industries do not create jobs…”

        Utter Street level Marxism…even Howard Zinn doesnt stoop that low…
        You have been so conditioned to think..NO! feel! that GOVERNMENT creates jobs…..well ANYTHING THE STATE CAN FORCE OUT OF NOTHING….

        Government is not eloquence it is not reason it is FORCE! Like fire it is both a DANGEROUS servant and a FEARFUL master!
        George Washigton.

        George Washington(not the greatest example) at least tried to warn the rest of America about what was happening….and what to do about it..in his Farewell Address of 1796….

        Socialist command economies and State control of the means of production…with our BIPARTISAN and “patriotic” leaders forcing the Welfare/Warfare State upon the backs of Americans, didnt we fight a “cold” war AGAINST that and that philosophy????

        I guess THEY really won…look at how many PLANKS of SOCIALIST Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto are NOW LAWS OF OUR COUNTRY.

        oh well…this election will see both Hegelian “opposite” parties addressing the symptoms of state intervention…NOT GETTING RID OF THEM….the Dems will want to STRENGTHEN the FedGov chains…the Repugs will want to lighten them….make them cheaper and made in America….

        Meanwhile the prisoners get to have fights, conventions, rallies, and voting spectacles/charades….

        How patriotic..

        Oh well..

        • Then stop using roads, airports, and the internet if you think the govmint don’t create.

        • Salvatore DiChristina on said:

          Don’t you find it rather strange that the most advanced societies have some form of Socialism? Don’t you find it disheartening that those advanced societies have a better education system, a better health system, a kinder propensity to help those that are down due to no fault of their own? Do you prefer the Bush/Cheney acts of providing phony data to get us into an unnecessary war with Iraq? A war which is or rather was being fought on a credit card? Do you prefer the swagger of men who ducked their generation’s war and used illegal interrogation methods? Methods that we had sentenced others to death for using them? Check what happened to torturers int he Phillippine wars, and WWII. Methinks ye know little of what ye speak.

  9. Good reminder just how far back the Federalist vs. Anti-Federalist debate goes in American History. I do have to mention that Thomas Jefferson was anti-Federalist and anti-Constitution. He was our Minister to France at the time and labeled the convention delegates “demigods.”

    Manipulation of history and of ignorant American minds is key here. The Tea Party emerged from public anger over the 2008 bank bailout. Now the Tea Party is funded but the Republican establishment, which is funded by the banks we, the people, bailed out. Sad, ignorant irony.

  10. Andrew jackson was only a fedralist when it served his purposes. He also destroyed the national bank. An action which, to this day, has left the united states, and thus the world, more vulnerable to the predatory influence of global financial powers. The whig parties support of a national bank was one of the main and most important part of the whig platform. Failing to recognize this key aspect of the federalist/anti-federalist debate is a huge mistake for anyone wanting to get an understanding of what has gone horribly wrong with the unites states today. Reviving the federalist whig party platform is a MUST if we are serious about saving the united states, and thus the world, from its destruction by the global, corporatist idealougues who fund this “tea party” apparatus. Other than my difference of opinion on the role of andrew jackson I congratulate the author for writing an important and poignant critique.

  11. George Monroe on said:

    $19.00 submitted for 2 book deal offered with free shipping. Thanks for this timely opportunity.

  12. I’m afraid Mr. Robert Parry does not know the history of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists during our founding. The fight remains today. The centralization of power often leads to tyranny. This is why the founding fathers crafted the Constitution to limit federal powers.

    The creation of the Constitution entailed hours of debate and compromise, and even when it was completed, some delegates were unhappy with it. The task of fixing the ailing Confederate government was not complete yet; each state had to ratify, or approve, the Constitution. Basically, people divided into two groups, the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. Each of their viewpoints is worth examining, as they both have sound reasoning.

    The Anti-Federalists did not want to ratify the Constitution. Basically, they argue that: It gave too much power to the national government at the expense of the state governments. There was no bill of rights. The national government could maintain an army in peacetime. Congress, because of the `necessary and proper clause,’ wielded too much power. The executive branch held too much power.

    Of these complaints, the lack of a bill of rights was the most effective. The American people had just fought a war to defend their rights, and they did not want a intimidating national government taking those rights away again. The lack of a bill of rights was the focus of the Anti-Federalist campaign against ratification.

    The Federalists, on the other hand, had answers to all of the Anti-Federalist complaints. Among them:

    The separation of powers into three independent branches protected the rights of the people. Each branch represents a different aspect of the people, and because all three branches are equal, no one group can assume control over another.

    A listing of rights can be a dangerous thing. If the national government were to protect specific listed rights, what would stop it from violating rights other than the listed ones? Since we can’t list all the rights, the Federalists argued that it’s better to list none at all.

    Overall, the Federalists were more organized in their efforts. By June of 1788, the Constitution was close to ratification. Nine states had ratified it, and only one more (New Hampshire) was needed. To achieve this, the Federalists agreed that once Congress met, it would draft a bill of rights. Finally, New York and Virginia approved, and the Constitution was a reality. Interestingly, the Bill of Rights was not originally a part of the Constitution, and yet it has proved to be highly important to protecting the rights of the people.

    • Nonsense.

      Parry got it right. The Articles of Confederation was virtually useless. It did not implement the single most important goal of the Revolution, establishment of a government which would be equal to that of England and the other European powers. The Founders had no intention of creating a government to protect individual rights as has become a popular notion. They just wanted what might be described as “home rule.” They wanted what they already had but they wanted it located in America not England. The Articles failed to that. It left far too much power in the hands of the States.

      Technically, the Constitution is compact with a constitution. The Preamble, the compact, creates a country to replace the “firm league of friendship” of the Articles. The document then constitutes a government for the newly created country. Together, they are a new beginning, a phoenix rising from the ashes of the unworkable first United States.

      • Salvatore DiChristina on said:

        Remember, we were a fledgling nation, weak, unrecognized as a power and subject to being attacked and taken over by stronger European powers. Thank goodness for ocean separation and poorer means of transportation at that time. We needed Hamilton who did the most to establish us as a separate entity, create a system to pay the war debts of each of the states, and establish out credentials as a unified nation.

  13. xiaobinger123 on said:

    Oh, I like tea

  14. The Tenth Amendment seems substantially meaningless because of the ambiguity of its division of powers. Powers not declared for the United States are retained by the States OR the People. This implies that, although the States may have retained powers, the People, in their inherent sovereignty, may transfer the powers to the United States by imposition of their will.

  15. Watch the case in Federal court here in Brattleboro, VT where Entergy Nuclear is challenging Vermont, saying that Vermont doesn’t have the right to regulate whether or not it can extend its operational lifetime. The Feds (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) have granted their plant, Vermont Yankee, a license to operate beyond the current ending date of March 2012. But the Vermont government, through the Vermont Senate, have voted to disallow Vermont Yankee from continuing to operate. Entergy desires to operate their plant for 20 more years, and by dint of this case, proves it is ready to sue the people of the State of Vermont in order to do so. Will the people of the State of Vermont succeed in overriding the permission of the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission? Stay tuned … and please note: this case threatens to put a whole bunch of “liberals” like me into the same “states’ rights” camp as the knee-jerk, tiny-government “conservatives” like Rick Perry.

    What I would suggest is that while this debate is over the dichotomy of state vs. federal, it is really a FALSE dichotomy because both of those “power” derive their existence and jurisdiction “from the consent of the governed”. And that even if the Feds, even if the SUUU-PREEEEM court says Entergy Louisiana has a right to continue operating Vermont Yankee, We, the People who live in its EVACUATION ZONE have a positive right to SHUT IT DOWN, not only because of the lack of radiological safety (the thing leaks like a sieve) but also because the Feds have fallen down on the job by failing to provide a long-term repository for high-level nuclear waste.

    The Feds can claim all they want that they alone have the authority to regulate the radiological safety of nuclear power plants. But look to Fukushima and Chernobyl to see what happens when you let the “authorities” do everything. The fact is, Vermont is a homeland and has its own people — has since before the Yankees (white people) began to come here. What is now called Vermont was once called Ndakinna (“our land”), and for good reason — because the original natives regarded the rights of the individual, the family, and the extended tribe — in other words, the community — as sovereign. Anything that attempts to override and trample upon those rights will not long endure.

    I raised my children here, and they in turn may choose to stay here and raise their own, etc., etc., etc. No government or corporation can guarantee the safety of my childrens’ childrens’ children from the radioactivity emitted by these huge heaps of high-level nuclear waste, situated on the banks of the Connecticut River, our land’s most fertile soil, for the hundreds of thousands of years it will take — even a million years or more — for the radioactive elements in that waste to neutralize themselves.

    So therefore, the needs of the people in this locality absolutely trump the needs of a corporation from Louisiana or any other faraway place. And the Federal government, which provides over an increasingly dissolute complex of special interests, and is NO LONGER “of the people, by the people, and for the people” will be tarred, feathered, and run out of here on a rail by us Green Mountain Boys & Girls if they try to continue shoving this stinking nuke down our throat.

    • Salvatore DiChristina on said:

      It has always been a contention of mine that no potentially dangerous product be mass produced until such time as a way to return the dangerous, developed product to its natural harmless state.

  16. jessie sanford on said:

    John greetings from Mississippi now you know how us folks in the South feel. You yankees have been shoving you ideas and way of life down our throats for 150 years. But dont dispare we to stood our ground in the 1950′s but the feds called out the US Army and once again invaded the south with a show of force, of course we backed down, we have not forgotten what Sherman and Grant did to us and our kin. I hope you win you struggle and your gallant Union forces are not turned on you and your kin and that you homes and land not be turned into a total waste land as ours was in 1865..
    Your Friend in Dixie
    Jessie Sanford

    • Salvatore DiChristina on said:

      Let me say, Jessie, it is the South who started that horrible war, and it is you who refuses to end it. As I recall my Northern education, the war was fought to keep the Union together. It was South Carolina who decided it didn’t like the rules the game was being played under, Rules that South Caolineans agreed to play by in 1789. Yes, In northern schools we were taught the underlying cause was slavery, but remember Lincoln did not free the slaves until 1862,two years after the war began, and then he only freed the slaves in the seceding states. We in the North have not been taught to carry on this war, we have no hatred for Southeners, we have no banners to wave reminding us of our victory in keeping us as one. The only reminder we have of that sad phase of our history is your reluctance to forget about it.

      • Jeff Paulk on said:

        Did the South in firing on Fort Sumter begin the war?

        No. Various hostile acts had been committed before this took place. The first hostile act was committed by the Federal government when Major Robert Anderson secretly removed his garrison at night from Fort Moultrie, a weak fort in Charleston harbor, to Fort Sumter, a very strong fort. Shortly after, the government, under James Buchanan, sent the Star of the West with troops and supplies to Fort Sumter, but she was driven off. If South Carolina had a right to secede, she had a right to all the public buildings upon her territory, saving her responsibility for the cost of construction, which she readily recognized. She took over Fort Moultrie and other buildings and she was joined by other Southern States. Nevertheless no one was hurt, there was no war, and Virginia interposed with her Peace Conference, originated and presided over by John Tyler.

        After Lincoln came in, the peace apparently continued for four or five weeks, but secretly Lincoln took means to bring on war.. Despite the assurances of Seward, the Secretary of State, assurances made with Lincoln’s full knowledge,* that the status would not be disturbed at Fort Pickens, and in violation of a truce existing there between the Federals and Confederates, Lincoln sent secret orders for the landing of troops, but Adams, the Federal commander of the squadron before Fort Pickens, refused to land the troops, declaring that it would be a breach of faith to do so, and that it would bring on war. This was before Sumter was fired on, and Fort Sumter was fired on only when an armed squadron, prepared, also with great secrecy, was dispatched with troops to supply that fort also.

        But firing upon Fort Sumter did not in any case necessarily mean war. No one was hurt by the firing, and Lincoln knew that all the Confederates wanted was a fort that commanded the Metropolitan city of South Carolina – a fort which had been erected for the defense of that city. He knew that they had no desire to engage in a war with the United States. Not every hostile act justifies war, and in the World War this country submitted to having its flag filled full of holes and scores of its citizens destroyed before it went to war. Lincoln, without any violation of his views of government, had an obvious alternative in putting the question of war up to Congress, which could have been called in ten days. But he did not do it, and assumed the powers of Congress in making laws, besides enforcing them as an executive. By his mere authority he enormously increased the Federal army, marched it to the South, blockaded Southern ports, and declared Southern privateersmen pirates. Every clause of Jefferson’s tremendous indictment against King George in 1776 was true of Lincoln in 1861-1865.
        *See J.C. Welling, New York Natton, Vol. XXIX. p. 383.

    • Salvatore DiChristina on said:

      Just a short notification of your inability to forget. Notice in the post above not once did I refer to southeners as “you rebels”. Now take a look at your first two words in your own post, “You Yankees”. Doesn’t that tell you that you still have an unnecessary hatred for “Us yankees”. We have many more problems to solve than to refight an issue that has been a longgone water under the bridge. There are terms like “We or US Americans that5 should be used by all of us.

  17. Clifton Palmer McLendon on said:

    Robert Parry is obviously a product of today’s loose-constructionist educational system.

    He, of course, has it all wrong.

    Following his logic (and I use that term loosely), the Eastern seaboard from Maine to Georgia should still be part of the British Empire and Texas should still be part of Mexico, which should still be part of the Spanish empire.

    I daresay he has never heard of, much less read the writings of, William Rawle.

    • Why don’t you explain with citations why Parry means that the East Coast should be part of the UK?

  18. Freddy Boisseau on said:

    I have posted my comments/rebuttal on this post here. (http://www.icaucus.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=618&Itemid=109)

    Thank you.

    I would like address this post and it’s claim that the Tea Party gets the Constitution wrong. I will admit there are a lot of members of the Tea Party that have not taken the time to study the history and ratification of the Constitution, but the arguments of the author are composed of half truths used to justify the progressive view of big government…

  19. Thanks for this column Bob. If you’d like to see my daily summaries of the debates at the Constitutional Convention (based on Madision’s Notes published online by Yale’s Goldman School of Law), I’ve posted them at

    http://www.classroomtools.com/philly1787.html

    They not only confirm what you’ve written here, but put to rest even more of the fallacious arguments made by “originalists” and tea partiers.