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Tilting at Windmills

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December 1, 2010

CANTOR THINKS 'REPEAL AMENDMENT' TO CONSTITUTION HAS MERIT.... I imagine high-profile elected officials are asked to consider crackpot ideas all the time, putting officials in a position to offer a polite "no" when pressed for their support.

But as the Republican Party becomes even more extreme in its far-right ideology, powerful party leaders are no longer rejecting madness out of hand.

Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is part of a class of Republicans who say they want to change the country fundamentally -- and to that end, Cantor isn't dismissing a plan by legislators in his home state of Virginia to blow up the Constitutional system and replace it with one that would give state governments veto power over federal laws.

For several weeks now, conservative legal circles have been buzzing with Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell's plan to amend the Constitution so that a 2/3 vote by the state governments could overturn any federal law passed by the Congress and signed by the President. [...]

Appearing on Fox Business last week, Howell said that Cantor "was very interested" in the proposal and promised that he had "several members" of Congress who will put forward the Amendment in the House when the 112th Congress convenes in January.

Cantor's office confirmed to TPM that the incoming Majority Leader is interested in the Repeal Amendment, but said that so far Cantor is simply urging his colleagues to "keep an open mind."

As Howell sees it, the 16th and 17th Amendments to the Constitution -- creating a federal income tax and allow Americans to elect their own senators -- were a mistake he and other right-wing activists hope to rectify. The goal, then, is to push a new "Repeal Amendment" through a state-based Constitutional Convention.

And Eric Cantor seems to think this has merit, as a way to "provide a check on the ever-expanding federal government, protect against Congressional overreach, and get the government working for the people again, not the other way around. In order to return America to opportunity, responsibility, and success, we must reverse course and the Repeal Amendment is a step in that direction."

Did I mention that Cantor will be the House Majority Leader next year?

I suspect the American mainstream has no idea just how radical contemporary Republican thought has become.

Steve Benen 1:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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Comments

How many battalions does Virginia have?

Posted by: Bob M on December 1, 2010 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

The American mainstream? Let's bury that quaint idea. What Republicans have discovered to our daily and prolix consternation is that their noise pretty much preempts any idea of "mainstream". They virtually create their own weather on the right. And it's thunderstorms everyday for the forseeable future.

Posted by: walt on December 1, 2010 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Nullification redux. John C. Calhoun is alive and well and living in Virginia.

Posted by: fradiavolo on December 1, 2010 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

"...And Eric Cantor seems to think this has merit, as a way to 'provide a check on the ever-expanding federal government, protect against Congressional overreach...'"

Ok, but then we have to deal with ever-expanding governmental reach on the state level, and what is going to provide a check on that? Say some state wants to legalize slavery again, and maybe put all its prisoners on plantations, all they'd have to do is repeal Federal law at the state level, and we're back to the year 1800.

Posted by: delNorte on December 1, 2010 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

These folk are nuts. But they were handed the House majority by voters. So what does that say about the majority of voters in this country.

Posted by: June on December 1, 2010 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Obama and Reid are prematurely capitulating to these folks. What does that say about our purportedly Democratic leaders?

Posted by: Tom Allen on December 1, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

The goal, then, is to push a new "Repeal Amendment" through a state-based Constitutional Convention.

First, the Constitution does provide for this. Second, this idea gets raised by the right wing every few years, just like the left wing raises the idea of abolishing the Electoral College. Neither idea stands a chance.

What is interesting is the way the Repblicans' power over the last ten years has almost solely based on the anti-democratic aspects of the Constitution: The Senate (every state gets two senators, no matter the population); the Supreme Court (nine unelected lawyers making law and decieing who'll be president); the electoral college (over-representation of small states)and gerymandering the House (representatives pick their voters rather than the other way around). The idea of a constitutional convention where the small states would be over-represented fits into this game plan.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on December 1, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

The background to this is:
- the Christian right has been quietly taking over state and local Republican party organizations for thirty years now
- state and local Democratic party organizations, except for a few machines here and there, tend to be weak and ineffective
- the people who vote for state legislatures tend to be older and more conservative than the electorate as a whole.

So giving state legislatures a role in electing Senators, nullifying laws, and whatever else these guys think up down the road, is really just another way of enhancing the Republican party's power.

Republicans may on the surface seem crazy, but when you dig down a little you see that everything - EVERY G.D. THING - is about enhancing their power.

Posted by: Basilisc on December 1, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

This is all bullshit. It's fodder for the Ditto-Heads.

The Republicans and the majority of the Democrats in Congress are playing a classic game of "good cop, bad cop" as they browbeat the American people into accepting the "deal" that the corporate oligarchy is offering: namely, to concentrate as much as possible of the nation's wealth and power into the hands of the corporate oligarchy before the whole house of cards collapses.

For that to work, of course, the Republicans have to do their part and play the "bad cop" convincingly. And that's what all this fake, phony, "Tea Party" posturing is all about.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 1, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

I say let them secede.All who want to. If these yahoos think income tax isn't well spent let them see how far they get with just a state-wide tax. When their roads start to crumble and their electric grid fizzles, their food and water supply becomes contaminated, their police force/army runs out of ammo, and their medical facilities start to resemble junk yards they'll come to see just how stupid they are, how completely they have been bamboozled by their fear-mongering leadership. What fun.

Posted by: stevio on December 1, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

In her remarks to the House Judiciary Committee on July 25, 1974, Barbara Jordan said that if the Constitution's impeachment provisions didn't sufficiently apply to Nixon's Watergate offenses, "then perhaps that 18th century Constitution should be abandoned to a 20th century paper shredder."

It's nauseating to hear the Teatards preach about Constitutional principles, when what they'd really like to do is take Barbara Jordan's suggestion to heart.

Posted by: Death Panel Truck on December 1, 2010 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

As Jose at 1:30 says, the Constitution already provides for amendment through a state-based Constitutional Convention (Article 5), which bypasses the Congressional way's required two-thirds supermajorities in both houses. But they would need 34 state legislatures to call the Convention -- and before then, cooler heads on the Right would be quick to point out that nobody could predict exactly what would happen once it got started. Surely such venerable historians as Squeaker Gingrich would share with their many less literate RW friends what happened when Louis XVI summoned the Estates-General. It could be bad for business, especially big, and that would trump all other considerations.

Posted by: Dabodius on December 1, 2010 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Y'know, Rep. Cantor, we had a very vigorous national debate on state authority vs. federal authority from 1860-1865; you may have heard of it. The outcome was unambiguous: states rights lost. Big time.

Of coure, the particular states' right in question was that to hold other human beings as chattel. Had the debate been on, say, the right to license manicurists, I rather doubt that the debate would have been quite so intense.

Ironic, though, that the very party who defended the Union from 1860-1865 is now the same party which has apparenty had a change of heart. Abe Lincoln must be rolling over in his grave.

The South will be smacked down again,
-Z

Posted by: Zorro on December 1, 2010 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives need to precisely explicate which parts of The United States of America they love and find exceptional and which parts they find fundamentally contemptible.

We have to stop deferentially accepting their claims to 'authentic patriotism'.

Posted by: apm on December 1, 2010 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

"When their roads start to crumble and their electric grid fizzles, their food and water supply becomes contaminated, their police force/army runs out of ammo, and their medical facilities start to resemble junk yards they'll come to see just how stupid they are, how completely they have been bamboozled by their fear-mongering leadership."

No, sadly, they won't. As someone whose spent 34 years in the south, let me tell you what they'd do: they'd blame the coloreds and the spics. Just the other day I had a guy tell me that the reason social security was in trouble was because millions of illegal aliens are robbing it blind.

Posted by: s on December 1, 2010 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Funny isn't it, how all of this anti-government zeal and posturing comes from a group of people who will fight tooth to keep their asses firlmy planted...in the government.

Here's a suggestion to the weasel Cantor: resign and become an anti-government activist.

Posted by: SaintZak on December 1, 2010 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Just the other day I had a guy tell me that the reason social security was in trouble was because millions of illegal aliens are robbing it blind."

I've mentioned this before, a former friend who is arch conservative (not southern, but she has begun to revere all things south)always says if social Security is mentioned, "I don't want the government taking MY money and handing it to negroes."

Posted by: SaintZak on December 1, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

I find it odd that Palin, et al, seem to think that only the South counts as a 'pro-American part of America.' I'm sure it is, though- provided you overlook 1860-1865.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on December 1, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

"I suspect the American mainstream has no idea just how radical contemporary Republican thought has become."

Hmmm....not to sound snarky here, but honestly, the American mainstream should already have a damned good idea about how radical contemporary Republican thought has become--they've been exposed to it, have had it shoved down their throats for 30+ years, have seen the unnecessary nonsense against Clinton in the 1990s, the destructive policies of the Bush years and the assault on Obama (cue the BLAZING SADDLES line "The Sheriff's a n****r!). They should be very aware of this.

And yet, they still vote for these...people. The media still allows them to get away with everything they do. And we still turn our guns on each other, firing and cussing away.

I need a drink. Better yet, make it two.

Posted by: Marc McKenzie on December 1, 2010 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

There's a bunch of us that love this term. "The Wild Wild Right" catchy ha?

Posted by: DA on December 1, 2010 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

the 16th and 17th Amendments to the Constitution -- creating a federal income tax and allow Americans to elect their own senators

The 16th Amendment did not create a federal income tax--that had been around for decades. A rightwing Supreme Court majority had, however, declared it unconstitutional on extremely dubious grounds, and the 16th Amedment restored the status quo.

Posted by: rea on December 1, 2010 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, I hope some one is taking notes. Future historians will find this fascinating, I never thought I would be present at the time of a dissolution of a country.

Meanwhile, Save the Country, Tax the ber rich.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on December 1, 2010 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

What's really *funny* about this is that they are the people who are constantly bellowing that they're the only ones who respect the Constitution.

Posted by: Wally on December 1, 2010 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

If he gets Rand Paul to agree, we could have the Virginia and Kentucky Re-Resolutions.

Posted by: scott_m on December 1, 2010 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

These people really are bought and sold stupid. They have no business in government.

Posted by: bjobotts on December 1, 2010 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

"The Union forever! Hurrah, boys, hurrah!
Down with the traitor, up with the star;
While we rally round the flag, boys, rally once again,
Shouting the battle cry of freedom!"

Posted by: robert on December 1, 2010 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Why not go the whole hog and re-institute the Articles of Confederation? That worked out so well.

I couldn't wait to make war on S. C. and Texas.

Posted by: jrosen on December 1, 2010 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

"Surely such venerable historians as Squeaker Gingrich would share with their many less literate RW friends what happened when Louis XVI summoned the Estates-General."

This serves as a reminder that the First Estate (the Church) and the Second Estate (the Nobility) couldn't be taxed. The Republicans seem dedicated to recreating that situation.

Posted by: Seould on December 1, 2010 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Not that anyone on either side thinks it will happen, but something the dittoheads never seem to realize is why we've never had a con-con.

It's because the whole Constitution is up for rewriting if that happens. We could "clarify" the 2nd, 5th, 10th, and 14th amendments even while we were trashing the 16th and 17th.

Now, of course, if there REALLY were mega-ultra-conservative mojo behind getting 37 states to sign on, well, you might ask, what would the freepers have to fear from that? They could just steamroll through the whole document if they had the votes. In other words, if they could get rid of directly elected senators this way, they could also put us back on the gold standard with poll taxes and a three-fifths clause. This wouldn't be Philadelphia in 1787, with actual negotiation and compromise. This is the Republican Party we're talking about, after all!

My guess, if we got 20 or 25 states to sign on to this, the GOP would sabotage the process themselves. Deep down, I think they're as terrified of what would happen if they REALLY got their way as we are. Plus, rewriting the Constitution is practically the same thing as governing--yeah, they'll pass.

Posted by: Matt on December 1, 2010 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

It's important right now to recognize Congressman Cantor for his untiring lifelong efforts to disprove the ancient anti-Semitic slur that "all Jews are really smart."

Posted by: TCinLA on December 2, 2010 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK
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