Yes, the bigger the Constitutional argument, the better
My thanks to Greg Sargent for picking up on a point in my column today that rather than scoff at the new House majority's emphasis on the Constitution, progressives should welcome the chance to have a full-scale debate about the meaning of our founding document in our time.
And I salute him for going me "one better," as he put it. Greg is right to argue that a "debate about the Constitution -- and indeed a broader discussion about the founding -- could provide a chance to undercut the notion that somehow contemporary conservatives and Tea Partyers are more in sync with the founding generation than all the rest of us can claim to be."
I particularly like Greg's taking notice of the fact that "the Constitution is at the center of the argument between the two parties over the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act." He continues:
The Tea Partyers' position is that by opposing the mandate, they are the ones representing the Constitution's true spirit, which is hostility to Federal power at all costs. In fact, the Constitution's real legacy is that it created a framework ensuring that precisely this sort of argument over the proper role of the Federal government could continue to unfold across the generations. And as it happens, some credible legal observers and judges have argued persuasively that the mandate represents an exercise of Federal power that exists comfortably within the Constitution's constraints.
The Constitution is at the center of so many of our debates right now, including what I hope will be an ongoing discussion of the dangers of the Citizens United decision that overthrew decades of precedent in opening the political system to the tens of millions of dollars in corporate money. I do not fault our Tea Party friends for thinking that the Constitution is important. It is important. But I disagree with their interpretation of the document. It is time for us all to argue these differences out.
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