The Scary Thing About the Tea Party

by on October 25, 2010 · 15 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Election

christine O'Donnell

Christine O'Donnell, Tea Party candidate for Senator in Delaware.

by Andy Cohen / The Politics of Football / October 22, 2010

Allow me to start off this post by rehashing a little thing called the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assmeble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

That bolded part right there is commonly referred to as the “Establishment Clause,” and is the basis for the concept of the separation of Church and State. That means that the U.S. Government—or any state or local government, for that matter—cannot declare an official national religion, nor can they discriminate against any religion or any individual or group because of their religious beliefs.

Pretty simple concept. It’s something that (I thought) we all learned in the first grade. I mean, one of the first things we are taught about Thanksgiving is that the Pilgrims embarked on their flight from the Old World to flee the religious persecution at the hands of the British monarchy (or at least that ‘s the way I remember it being taught). The Pilgrims had their own religious beliefs, and they wanted the freedom to practice their beliefs in peace and without being thrown into jail for being different.

It’s long been a source of pride; something that distinguishes the United States from most of the rest of the world. And the United States is the pioneer of religious tolerance and acceptance. Ok, so we may not have always been perfect in that regard. The Jews haven’t always exactly been welcomed by all in this country with open arms. Prior to the election of John F. Kennedy to the presidency, being Catholic was considered a hinderence to national office.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Gary Ghirardi October 25, 2010 at 1:15 pm

“The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.”

Or removal offshore to a secret prison?

What has been taught here about our constitutional protections(?)

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avatar Shane Finneran October 25, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I think Gary G. is on to something here. It is certainly annoying to hear O’Donnell diss on separation of church and state. But it’s really just campaign trail gibberish from a Senate candidate doomed to lose. Meanwhile, our current and previous presidents have stomped all over habeas corpus, with many people having their lives up-ended (and often destroyed) along the way.

Powerless knaves like O’Donnell ain’t the problem…

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avatar Margaret October 25, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Another scary thing is they scream about taxes but don’t understand we’ve been given a tax cut by our president: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/19/us/politics/19taxes.html
Scarier still, they tend to side with the very people who want to damage this country even further by not allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. Maybe Miss Meg should read this before she goes on about wanting to rid the state of more employees:
http://www.tax.com/taxcom/taxblog.nsf/Permalink/UBEN-8AGMUZ?OpenDocument

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avatar J. Stone October 26, 2010 at 8:23 am

What’s really scary is that some of these people might get elected.

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avatar RB October 26, 2010 at 9:03 am

While I understand voting against a Tea Party member based upon their positions, I think there is another element here that all voters not associated with the two major parties should consider. When either major party marginalizes candidates outside their Rep/Dem oligopoly, they are really trying to limit the voters choice and will attack all third party candidates. Terms like fringe, scary, extreme, crazy, wasted vote, uneducated, wing nut, dangerous, etc. will always be used to maintain the status quo and prevent the rise of any third party movements on either the right , left, or center.

So have a good laugh when the major parties and the media makes fun of the Tea Party, but remember if you are a Green, Libertarian, Peace and Freedom, American Independent, etc. the same thing will happen to you when you threaten their power.

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avatar Andy Cohen October 26, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Hey, if there were a legitimate, viable third party candidate out there (such as Charlie Crist in Florida–although admittedly I don’t know much about Kendrick Meek, the Dem candidate), then I would vote for him/her if I thought they were the best candidate. The problem is that too often the third party candidates are so far out of the mainstream and have policy positions that simply aren’t viable. Case in point: Lars Grossmith, the Libertarian candidate for Congress in the 50th district. This is a guy who wants to ban the Department of Education; he wants to remove all government regulation of business; he advocates INCREASED gun ownership as a way to control and prevent crime, as if putting a gun in the hand of every overly aggressive, testosterone fueled, mentally unstable individual out there wouldn’t lead to a whole new set of problems; as if more guns wouldn’t be a threat to police officers, and lead to more police shootings. How do you support a candidate who essentially advocates anarchy?

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avatar Ian October 27, 2010 at 2:15 pm

You are no better than Christine O’Donnell, you should get the facts straight before you pass judgment. You should also steer clear of the absolute statements.

Getting rid of the Department of Education doesn’t mean that the government is out of the education business, it means that the Federal government loses their control. State and local governments can still do as they please.

I have never heard of Lars Grossmith, but I find it hard to believe that he thinks that all regulation on business should be removed. Does he think that children should be forced to work? Does he think that airline pilots should be allowed to work 120 hour weeks? Does he think that businesses should be allowed to dump toxic sludge in water sources?

Increased gun ownership does decrease crime. And it doesn’t mean “putting a gun in the hand of every overly aggressive, testosterone fueled, mentally unstable individual”, like you infer. Does he think convicted felons should be allowed to own guns?

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avatar Ian October 26, 2010 at 3:44 pm

First, it is always dangerous when you generalize an entire group based upon your perception of a few individuals. To generalize all Tea Partiers based upon what a few of the potential “representatives” believe is the antithesis of progressive.

Second, from what I have seen about O’Donnell’s comments she is not entirely incorrect (and please don’t confuse my defense of this point as my support of her, I think she is greatly misinformed in many areas; also I am agnostic). The Constitution, and more specifically the first amendment, make no mention of “the separation of church and state”. The “separation of church and state” is a much more general concept than “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. The first amendment in no way creates a wholesale separation between government and religion. It simply means that the government cannot provide benefits to those of a particular religion, and that they cannot prohibit individuals or groups from practicing their religion.

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avatar Andy Cohen October 26, 2010 at 6:21 pm

So what you’re saying is that 200 years of Supreme Court precedent are wrong? Thomas Jefferson himself was wrong?

It has been accepted law for over 200 years that the “Establishment Clause” in the First Amendment means just that: The separation of Church and State. It has been established law for over 200 years that the “Establishment Clause” does indeed call for the separation of Church and State. It’s the revisionist historians like Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, and the Tea Party that says that 200 years of established law is a misinterpretation of said law.

See the origins and affirmation of the concept of the separation of Church and State here: http://www.usconstitution.net/jeffwall.html

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avatar Ian October 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm

No, I am saying that you interpretation of the precedent is wrong. The “Establishment Clause” is just that… a state cannot ESTABLISH a religion. It doesn’t mean that there is a distinct, concrete divide between government and religion. It doesn’t mean that leaders cannot be religious, or that government officials cannot have religious paraphernalia in their office, or that religion classes cannot be taught in public schools (they just cannot be indoctrinated), or that money cannot say “In God We Trust”.

Like I said, the concept of “the separation of church and state” is a much broader concept than what is actually in the constitution.

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avatar Seth October 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Yes, this is all true. And bummer that you would be expected to somehow step in and defend her just because she is closer to your politics than those of others. Speaking of which, I typically shy away from the 3-day news cycle political commentary discussions (of all kinds), but what I find most interesting about this one is how this lady has clearly had little or no idea about the words being spoken to her on repeated occasions, but how this discussion has morphed into a semi-defense of what she should have or would have said had she any sort of clue, lol. Fascinating.

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avatar Ian October 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm

I know next to nothing about O’Donnell, I am not defending her in any way, and couldn’t tell you how close she is to my politics, but the fact is that the “separation of church and state” is not the same as the “establishment clause”; there is a considerable divide between the two.

What is fascinating (and sad for you on an intellectual level) is that you interpret my comments, and my correction of Andy Cohen on this point, as a defense for her, even though I explicitly said that they were not.

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avatar Seth October 28, 2010 at 10:24 am

Take it easy, man. That wasn’t really my point at all. Was kind of sticking up for you, actually. In clearer English… yes, you are correct about the establishment clause as it pertains to the separation of church and state. No, you should not have to defend her simply because she is (in fact) closer to your politics than she is to people on the left. And yes, it is kinda funny to me that her hamfisted idiocy has spawned this larger conversation in the national discourse.

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avatar Andy Cohen October 28, 2010 at 10:33 am

Actually, the Separation of Church and State IS the same as the Establishment Clause, and stems from Thomas Jefferson’s own words. He was the one who cited, in a letter, the “wall of separation between church and state.” (The letter is linked above, and in my piece.) This is precisely where the concept comes from–from Thomas Jefferson himself! And I think he might have known something about the founders’ intentions in writing the Constitution.

It is 200 years of established law. What you are advocating is overturning 200 years of legal precedent. It’s really not all that complicated.

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avatar New Eric Holder Fan October 27, 2010 at 4:35 pm

She’s hot

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