Despite the resurgent tingles up the legs of numerous liberal commentators — and even a smattering of conservative pundits — President Barack Obama is anything but a comeback kid. No amount of yelping among the ever-shrinking liberal ranks can make it so.
For the moment, there is only one genuine comeback kid on the American block: the U.S. Constitution. And the mighty resurgence of interest in that document, along with a new call for a return to constitutional fealty, is brought to us all by liberty guys and gals reincarnate: the Tea Parties.
Liberty’s spirit began to rise anew as an ultra-frustrated Rick Santelli issued an extemporaneous call on the floor of the New York stock exchange for modern Tea Parties. His rallying cry against the collectivist economic policies of the new administration was immediately dubbed “the shout heard ‘round the world.”
By spring of ’09, Santelli’s rhetorical call to arms had received its response: tax-day Tea Party rallies in 306 cities, drawing more than 250,000 Americans out of normative nonchalance and into the arena of patriotic protest.
The Tea Partiers were either ignored or scorned and mocked by mainstream media buffoons. But in less than two years, individual grassroots American citizens mounted the most formidable political movement seen in this country since the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Tea Party activists, once the collective butt of puerile, adolescent humor, are now honored guests in the media halls that first scorned them. Many members of Congress who arrogantly rebuffed Tea Partiers’ valid questions at summer townhalls now find themselves unemployed — grateful only that tar and feathers are no longer the tools of a disgruntled citizenry.
Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) will head the newly formed Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives. And the cry of the Tea Party Express these past two years — “Flip this House!” — has become a reality. But at the heart of all the national hoopla, in the bosom of every Tea Party protest, is our true comeback kid, the Constitution of the United States of America.
I’ve spent a great amount of time over the past 18 months among Tea Party activists, interviewing many. I’ve talked to Americans from different regions of the country — old and young, rich and poor, black and white, union and non-union. To be sure, there is among Tea Partiers a mountain of economic angst and disgust for both parties’ profligate ways. But the real glue that holds all these disparate folks together — the reason they will not just go away — is their bedrock respect for the Constitution.
It has not been lost on this monumental grassroots movement that lawmakers of both political parties have either ignored or defied constitutional limits on their powers for going on a century now. And for those taking to the streets in protest, our government’s growing tyranny is the primary driver of disgust. Suddenly, Americans are buying and carrying around pocket copies of the nation’s treasured document. All across the land, ordinary citizens are attending classes on the Constitution.
And, due entirely to all-American Tea Party activism, everyone who is anyone is talking and writing about the U.S. Constitution. One would need to be a ninny living under a big rock in the San Francisco Bay not to notice that on every network the Constitution has become the topic du jour. One would need blinders the size of Mount Rushmore not to see that Constitutional commentary has become downright ubiquitous in both the dead-tree media and the new media.
So here we are again, after 223 years, having a national consciousness-raising event with the U.S. Constitution as the star player. “Comeback” is actually too mild a word.
The newly elected speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, is set to open the 112th Congress with a solemn reading of the Constitution. An all-important new rule for the House will require proposed laws to cite the constitutionally enumerated power behind them. As every sentient American is fully aware, this reawakening of constitutional limits on government power is only a tiny first step in turning back the freedom-encroaching maneuvers of the feds.
It is no mere coincidence that Speaker Boehner takes the gavel this week from a woman who has mocked the very document she swore to uphold from the moment she picked up the gavel in January 2007. Pelosi’s self-entitled, profligate reign helped ignite the fires of resistance among the people.
During Ms. Pelosi’s rule as House speaker, far more attention was paid to her San-Fran liberal dream-schemes than to the Constitution. Pelosi fretted over her office drapes and indulged her “need” for expensive fresh flowers and a never-ending array of chocolates. She masterminded go-organic and green initiatives using her lavish congressional expense accounts. Hellbent, she waged war with the Pentagon over the use of a military jet to fly her back and forth to San Francisco at extravagant taxpayer cost.
Ms. Pelosi indulged her power-lust with a high-profile trip to the Middle East in war time, visiting Syria in direct opposition to the sitting president. Not content to stay within the framework of her constitutional role as House speaker, Nancy Pelosi traveled abroad as a foreign-policy emissary, spoke for America to the Israelis, then mis-spoke for the Israelis to the Syrians.
Ms. Pelosi led Democrats to their congressional takeover in ’06 with her “Maybe it will take a woman to clean up the house” talking point. Yet, she immediately provided authoritative cover to her own party’s malfeasance and corruption, proving that it isn’t the broom that cleans the house but the wielder of the broom.
Despite her carefully coiffed speeches, Ms. Pelosi showed a mighty penchant for off-the-cuff rudeness. When met with pro-drilling protesters outside a meeting place in the summer of ’08, the imperious Pelosi was drawn into a momentous exchange:
Demonstrators interrupted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with chants of “Drill here! Drill now!”
Pelosi paused and asked the group, “Right here?”
Seeming to enjoy the back and forth, she followed with another question: “Can we drill your brains?”
She may as well have said, “Let them eat cake.” Her disrespect for the people and their constitutional rights has been on unremitting display from day one of her reign.
While the Constitution is read from the House floor this week, finally giving it the place of respect it is due, the American citizenry will no doubt recall Nancy Pelosi’s final moment of constitutional infamy. When asked whether her blitzkrieg enactment of ObamaCare was constitutional, Madame speaker gave the most revealing answer of her entire stint with the gavel: “Are you serious? Are you serious?”
Indeed, Ms. Pelosi, we the People are entirely serious about the governmental limits imposed by the U.S. Constitution.
Let the debate begin. At the very least, Speaker Boehner’s first moves guarantee that constitutional awareness will be paramount in the People’s house and that the debate over the limits of its powers will be public.
Our constitutional reawakening has been a feat to behold and one that has brought great solace to liberty-lovers all over the land. That’s why everyone who is anyone ought to hail the Tea Parties for turning America’s eyes to the comeback kid of the century.