As the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party continues to express outrage at our federal government, it becomes increasingly clear that the Tea Party simply does not understand the concept of a democratic republic. Its members ignore the fact that the Articles of Confederation were replaced by a Constitution that created a strong, centralized federal government. They ignore the fact that the power of the federal government versus the power of the states was thoroughly debated by our Founding Fathers, and the Federalists won. They quote the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment while ignoring all of its original Articles that gave the federal government sweeping powers to “provide for the general Welfare of the United States.”
Indeed, they even seem to ignore the “United” in United States!
At the heart of the Tea Party anger seems to be a misunderstanding of what constitutes a democracy. By its very nature, a democracy is based on majority rule. That means a minority, sometimes a significant minority, is often unhappy with the direction of our government. And, as the result of a quirk in our Electoral College, following the 2000 presidential election, a significant majority of our citizens were unhappy with the outcome, having voted for another candidate.
The Tea Party members refuse to acknowledge that President Obama was elected and re-elected by significant majorities of voters. They ignore the fact that the 2012 election was, in essence, a referendum on support for the middle class; for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; for the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).
They continue to claim that Obama was born in Kenya and should, therefore, be disqualified from holding the office of president. They continue to howl that financial and environmental regulations are “job killers.” They consider his signature accomplishment of making health care affordable to all Americans a socialist government “takeover.” And, instead of accepting majority rule, they seem determined to take away the voting rights of African-Americans, Latinos, students, women, and the poor – anyone who might vote against the Tea Party agenda.
In other words, as they wave the American flag and their pocket copies of the Constitution with only the Second and Tenth Amendments highlighted, they are attempting to cut out the very heart of our democracy…that of majority rule.
The Tea Party refuses to accept that our nation is evolving; that the minorities of brown and black are the majorities of the future. The “I’ve got mine, you can’t have yours” crowd can’t bear the idea of change; of giving power to others. I believe that is what’s behind their animosity toward President Obama.
They can’t accept forward-thinking ideas such as investing in our failing infrastructure while interest rates are at all-time lows. They can’t understand that a tax policy that punishes greed and rewards corporate investment in our nation benefits the vast majority of our citizens. They can’t grasp that jobs paying a living wage are necessary to the health of our nation and benefit us all. They can’t see that an environmental policy that conserves the health of our planet benefits everyone. As long as they have theirs, they refuse to accept the notion that affordable health care and a comfortable retirement are rights, not benefits.
Our Founding Fathers had the wisdom to create a government “of the people, by the people and for the people” – the majority of people.
If you want a government “of the people, by the people and for me” you’re in the wrong place. You should find a remote, uninhabited island where you can become supreme dictator. Otherwise, it’s time you learned to accept majority rule.