Although only .5 percent of voters in Kansas are registered in the Libertarian Party, the current narrative written and controlled by the libertarian, tea bagger movement (with a wholly inadequate response from us liberals and progressives) has gained considerable traction. The narrative is simply that “Federal government is bad and is intruding on state and individual rights.” They point to proposed mandates to purchase insurance that would be included in health care reform as one example of trampling on individual rights and a violation of Article 10 of the Constitution.
Backed by the Koch funded Americans for Prosperity, the tea baggers were able to assemble a bunch of followers (about 100 according to the JW) and rally in support Senate Concurrent Resolution 1615, which is a nonsensical piece of legislation stating that the Federal government has only power specifically stated and provided to it in the Constitution. From the time of the very first Supreme Court case (McCulloch v. Maryland), this interpretation of the 10th Amendment has been rejected.
I dropped the ball and did not make it to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on this resolution. According to the JW there were no opponents speaking against the resolution. State Senator Laura Kelly has told me that a teacher/debate coach, from Wichita Collegiate spoke articulately against the proposed legislation. If and when it comes up in the House, he should not be alone. I will be prepared to appear before a House committee and round up as many opponents as possible. Surely, we can find a cadre of liberal constitutional lawyers to present the argument against this ill conceived piece of legislation.
Liberals/progressives must begin to develop our own narrative. Legislation plus case law pertaining to Article 1, Section 8 arguments concerning the “general welfare” and “common defense” (“implied powers”) clearly invalidates the tea bagger position on the constitutionality of Federal programs. Otherwise, there would be no Social Security, Medicare, NLRB, no interstate highway system, and literally thousands of other programs that the Republicans would never have the courage to propose legislating out of existence.
Our narrative should be rather easy to communicate. The tea baggers and their patronizing legislators such as Lynn Jenkins are against cherished programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and the FDA. We need to organize and get our bodies to events. There is no reason we cannot pack hearing rooms. There is no reason we cannot educate the public about what the framers intended and case law interpreting the constitution. When I Google Article 10, “implied powers,” “general welfare,” and other matters related to Article 1, Section 8, I find right wing blogs. Some of them are well written. Their arguments, although not valid, resonate with a large segment of the public. If an unanswered message, even a big lie, is incessantly repeated, it will eventually become believable to the uninformed.