Wednesday, April 25, 2012

10 Laws That Never Would Have Defined America Under the Tea Party

America.  Home of the free.  Land of the brave.  As we go about our daily affairs, we don’t often think about what makes America the envy of so much of the world.  The reason why America has -- in our completely unbiased American opinion -- become the greatest country on the face of the Earth is because at each critical stage throughout our history, the men and women in charge of shaping our nation made landmark decisions that changed our society for the better. 
200 years ago, Blacks were literally considered the legal property of their slave masters; today, a Black man holds the highest office in the land.  When this country was founded, women could not vote; today, women can be found in the highest levels of government in all 50 states.  A century ago, Americans retired without any savings; today, Americans who lack savings, at the very least, receive financial and medical support in their final years. 
Today, these achievements are so commonplace that it is difficult not to take them for granted.  However, it hasn’t always been this way.  At some point, somebody somewhere in America woke up one day and said “you know, I’ve been thinking…this whole slavery thing is a bad idea.  Let’s get rid of it.”  And then, after some debate, a law was enacted that codifed that exact sentiment about ending slavery...and America was changed forever.  At some point we got tired of being a nation where our elderly retired without any life savings, and so we made Social Security. At some point we got tired of big corporations getting over on the little man, and so we made unions.
But what if none of that had ever happened?  What if the dominant voice during those crucial times was not that of the progressives seeking change, but that of the modern day Tea Party?  How different would America look today if the Tea Party, a party obsessed with shrinking government to the point of anarchy, had been in charge of both houses of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court since 1789?  We submit to you that the following 10 laws that have shaped America into the country we love today would have never come into existence:

  1. Civil Rights Act of 1964/End of Jim Crow
The Civil Rights Act is critical for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, it forever outlawed the practice of racial segregation in the Jim Crow south.  In addition, it empowered the federal government to overrule any state or private individual who tried to keep anybody out of any business, hotel, motel, theater, store, restaurant, etc. on the basis of race or gender.  Had the Tea Party been in power in 1964, America would still have segregated lunch counters at your local diner.

  1. Voting Rights Act of 1965
After the Civil War, many southern states started to enact poll taxes, literacy tests, property ownership requirements and other so-called "race neutral" challenges to the newly freed Blacks of the south who wished to exercise their right to vote.  100 years after the Civil War, Congress discovered that these laws had successfully kept Blacks and other minorities from voting.  Thus, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  This law allows the federal government to monitor the states' voting practices and strike down any voting laws that unfairly prevent people from voting.  You already know the "State's Rights" Tea Party would not have been going for that mess.

  1. Brown v. Board of Topeka Education
Speaking of segregation, segregated schools were as America as apple pie throughout many states.  In Topeka, Kansas, one young Black girl sued the Board of Education for the State of Kansas under this wild theory that "separate" does not necessarily mean "equal."  She won.  But the only reason why she won -- other than the fact that Thurgood Marshall was arguing her case before the Supreme Court -- was that the Presidents who preceded her had appointed enough open-minded Supreme Court Justices to allow the Court to conclude 9-0 that racially segregated schools are a bad idea.  Had the Tea Party appointed those same justices, it would have been 0-9 in the other direction and we'd likely still have State-sponsored segregated schools in America to this day.

  1. Social Security
Many moons ago, before you or I were even a twinkle in our parents' eyes, old people used to retire without ANY savings in place whatsoever.  Shocking right?  Well the same thing still happens to this day, the only difference is that during the 1930's, President FDR came up with this crazy idea that this country should take it upon itself to ensure that its elderly retire with some dignity and not on the streets.  He was ridiculed heavily for this, but in the end, Social Security became the law of the land.  Today, EVERYBODY knows they have a safety net when they get older called Social Security, but that is only because somebody thought that the federal government should get involved in people's lives and "mandate" (see Obamacare) that they have retirement savings -- whether they like it or not.  We finally came to terms with the fact that when you leave people to do things on their own, such as save up for retirement (or buy health insurance), the truth for many of us is that we simply won't do it.  I don't even need to tell you how much Social Security would not exist today if FDR had been a member of the Tea Party. 

  1. Medicare/Medicaid
I'm going to let you in on a well-kept secret...are you sitting down?...Medicare and Medicaid are actually FEDERAL GOVERNMENT programs.  *Dun Dun DUNNNNNNN!!!!*  I know right? If you listened to how some uninformed people carry on, you'd think Medicare and Medicaid were private corporations created by the free market.  Not so.  These are federal government programs that use tax dollars to take care of sick people.  This is antithetical to everything the Tea Party stands for.  Under the Tea Party logic, if you get sick then you're on your own.   It's not our fault you failed to be born into a wealthy family who can pay for your medical bills.  Next time maybe you'll try a little harder to be reincarnated as one of Mitt Romney's sons.

  1. The Environmental Protection Agency
Using tax dollars to protect endangered wild life and the environment?  What manner of blasphemy is this?!!!  It's not like we have a bald eagle as our national symbol or anything.  Sheesh.

  1. Roe v. Wade
With the latest "War on Women" you knew we couldn't avoid talking about the ever-so-controversial issue of a woman's right to chose to have an abortion.  People may not know much about the Supreme Court, but we all know that Roe v. Wade has pissed off conservatives for decades.  Although, when you think about it, it really shouldn't.  This is the one issue -- as exemplified by Herman "999" Caine's brain fart during the GOP primary -- where small government conservatives have to do a flip-flop in order to justify their position.  You see, if you're truly for SMALL government, that means you want FEWER government regulations, not more.  In order to outlaw abortion that would require MORE government regulation.  You see the dilemma, don't you?  Nevertheless, under a Tea Party nation, you can rest assured that this little contradiction would not stop them from creating an entire federal agency dedicated to policing abortion from coast to coast.  This is the one exception to the small government rule where Tea Party folks will actually spend tax dollars willingly.

  1. The 13th Amendment Against Slavery
The most interesting thing about the Civil War is that many Americans think it was a war about slavery.  Well...not exactly.  It was a fight about a State's right to allow slavery.  I know that's somewhat nuanced and I know that's not exactly how the story was told in grade school where we were taught that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, but the truth of the matter is Abraham Lincoln and other GOP members during his day didn't even like Black people.  They just didn't think that a state should allow private individuals to own them as property.  Now the Tea Party will probably tell you (in public anyway) that they disagree with the immorality of slavery, and some of them might actually mean it, but the Tea Party would NOT have permitted the federal government to interfere with a state's right to allow slavery.  With the Tea Party it's all about State's rights, man.
  1. The 14th Amendment Equal Protection & Due Process Clauses
After the Civil War, America adopted the 14th Amendment which gives us two of the most useful and most frequently litigated clauses in the entire Constitution: the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause.  These two clauses form the legal basis for abortion, affirmative action, same-sex marriage and every other controversial social issue that makes the Tea Party's head explode.  Nuff said.

  1. Unions/Collective Bargaining Rights 
Last but not least, Unions!  The bane of corporate America's existence.  Nothing pisses a big money CEO off more than his employees getting together and demanding stuff that will take more money out of his fat pockets - such as better working conditions, better pay, better benefits, etc.  Who do these free loaders think they are?  If the Tea Party had it's way, the big corporations that form the backbone of the infallible free market would be able to keep all of their profits and compensate their employees however they see fit...which is to say not at all.

A.  So are we right or are wrong about 1-10?
B.  What other laws would not exist if the Tea Party under the Tea Party?
C.  How different (or similar) would our country look if the Tea Party had ruled since the 1700's?
D.  Would our country be better off if the federal government left people to their own devices?

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