Thursday, March 24, 2005

Oh Joy

I was wrong on Tuesday. Apparently the conservative-movement really does see that the American Constitution is getting in their way. This is not the joyous day I had hoped it would be though.

Devout followers of the Schiavo drama probably noticed today’s Ann Coulter article on the evil of the court that is killing someone. I’m not sure if it’s the state court, the state appeals court, the state Supreme Court, or the federal court that she’s criticizing as being a lone and arbitrary blood-thirsty evildoer, but she certainly has a beef with one or all of them. She goes so far as to utter the quote that is the mast-line of this page:

President Andrew Jackson is supposed to have said of a Supreme Court ruling he opposed: "Well, John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it." The court's ruling was ignored. And yet, somehow, the republic survived.

Leave it to Coulter (a woman who I think Republicans should despise more for giving them a bad name rather than any Democrat should legitimately fear) to choose historical examples that are among the most heinously evil acts our government committed, when trying to defend the actions of the current administration. But this means I should probably defend my use of the quote then.

The courts and the strict legal meanings of the Constitution do not enforce themselves. It is the people of the government who effect our laws. And it’s easy to forget this, which is why I choose such a controversial quote to remind readers of that brightly highlighted time when it was very true. Even the Constitution in its clearest interpretation, could not stop our popular will when it’s got blood on its mind. Coulter has done her duty, however, and made me question whether I should keep that line up there. More thinking will occur.

In the meantime, some comments on hypocrisy and political dialogue. If you stand for a principle, and you fall short of that principle, then it is quite acceptable for people to criticize you for it, even if those people do not advocate that principle themselves. Why? Because you lied. If a Democrat advocates unions and living wages but treats her staff in a dramatically Randian fashion, then she is falling short of the platform she uses to get herself elected, and it’s ok for Republicans who don’t believe in such labor standards to criticize her as holding others to impossible standards. In fact, it is an important role of our political parties, to point out the lies, hypocrisies, and practical flaws of their opponents; otherwise we wouldn’t find out.

Similarly, if the Republicans choose to campaign for decades on the ideals of federalism, and hide behind that edifice when opposing Democratic legislation, then capricious disregard of federalist procedures when it comes to their own goals, is a very legitimate thing to point out. Saying “well you don’t believe in states rights, so why do you care?” is not a convincing argument about your lies.


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