Why Do Conservatives Hate the Constitution?

The question is meant as a parody, of course, but it’s also a serious question. Where pod-people like Sean Hannity insist that liberals ‘hate America’ but can’t offer either reasons or evidence of any such thing (last time Hannity admitted that he didn’t know why liberals hate America, ‘they just do’; in right-wing whacko-land, this hateful proposition is so obvious it apparently doesn’t need anything resembling evidence or reason), any one of us could come up with a dozen major proofs–evidence, actions, actual proof–that conservatives a) have patently never read the Constitution; b) didn’t understand it if they have; or c) read it and understood it but don’t much care for it.

Republican reactionaries, led by The Hammer, rammed through the PATRIOT Act so fast that nobody forced to vote on it had time to read more than the title, and this was a law that used 9/11 and ‘national security’ to excuse warping, limiting, undercutting, and re-writing out of existence key provisions of the Consitution these ‘representatives of the public’ swore an oath to ‘protect and defend’. The new conservative mantra–‘9/11 changed everything’–hardly excuses much less explains the lifting and/or corroding of key Constitutional provisions like the necessity for warrants, the right of the accused to a speedy trial or access to a lawyer that were denied Wilson in WWI and FDR in WWII, both much more serious wars than the WOT (ie, thay actually were wars, not insurgencies resulting from juvenile neocon adventurist fantasies of world domination for the naked corporatist purpose of controlling the flow of oil).

But even if we accept the mantra–and there is some truth to it, though not nearly as much as they like to pretend–the fact of the matter is that Publican reactionaries have never been terribly comfortable with the Constitution or its protections as soon as it strays from what they imagine are its ‘No Taxation’ roots. They like the idea of ‘freedom’ but they’re uncomfortable and even appalled by its messy consequences, and their concept of ‘liberty’ seems to revolve heavily around removing it from anyone of whom they don’t approve. Since the end of WWII when their incipient paranoia over the imagined threat of the Soviet Union grew into an obsession, they have been more than willing, eager to remove those portions of the Constitution that might be used to protect ‘commie sympathizers’. When the Viet Nam war exposed a cultural rift between the ‘Greatest Generation’ (a misnomer if ever there was one) and the ‘Hippest Generation’ the size of the Grand Canyon, their first instinct was to call out the dogs: they wanted demonstrators thrown in prison by the police or shot down in the streets by the National Guard, and they didn’t much care which.

Republican policies over the years have almost always favored the restriction of personal freedom and curbs on personal liberty to one degree on another while favoring the expansion of corporate freedom and removing the ‘chains’ of corporate responsibility. It is as if they see the Constitution ‘through a glass darkly’, only dimly aware of its core concerns and blurry on both its use and its purpose. One gets the feeling after 50 or so years that if they could trade this Constitution’s unfortunate and inconvenient emphasis on the individual for a more corporate-friendly emphasis on oligarchic entitlements, they would see that not as the ultimate corruption of the American promise but as a decided improvement skewed more toward their idea of the proper focus of society: protecting the power and riches of the Haves.

It seems reasonable on the 4th of July, the date when we have decided to celebrate our rebellion from monarchy, to ask how conservatives can love this country so much when they so detest the foundation on which that country is based? How can you love America at the same time you hate what is best about it? what sets it apart? what makes people all over the world–or did before Junior got his hands on the machinery and perverted it beyond all recognition–see democracy, our democracy, as their best hope for a decent future?

Because they are, that’s undeniable. Oh, not that they would copy it word-for-word, only that they realize that their only hope lies in replacing class societies in which rights and freedoms are the exclusive property of the propertied class with societies in which all classes receive equal treatment under the law and all people have the same rights, freedoms, and responsibilities.

And yet, at a time when ordinary people all over the world are reaching toward the democratic ideal that we used to represent to them, the radical conservatives in the Republican Party are desperately trying to return the US–Home to those aspirations for 2 1/4 centuries–to the rules and priviliges of a de facto monarchy with themselves in the role of the ruling nobles to whom the plebian serfs must doff their caps and tug their forelocks in feigned respect. It seems pretty clear from their actions that if they were jumped back in time to the early 1770’s, it wouldn’t be the dirty, rebellious, ‘rabble’ represented by Sam Adams and Tom Paine that they’d be identifying with and supporting.

If that seems unkind or ‘polemical’, how else could you explain the radcon love affair with John Ashcroft’s near-fascist belief that law is nothing but a tool of the powerful and they can do what they want with it? Or Cheney’s broad-based, ‘I’m above all that’ contempt for the rules and regulations of civilized behaviour? Or Junior’s patented preference for imperial prerogatives and monarchical pretensions? These guys don’t just want a return to monarchical values, they want to return to pre-Magna Carta monarchical values when the law was what the nobles said it was and droit-de signieur was in full flower. It’s as if they regret being born too late to play Feudal Lord of the Manor and they want their shot at it.

And yet these are the people who will shout the loudest today, wave more flags and wear more lapel pins while viciously attacking more democratic values than any random 10,000 ‘liberals’ put together. Shouldn’t they be celebrating the Queen’s Birthday or something more appropriate than a day that belongs to an idea of freedom they despise and will outlaw first chance they get?

And shouldn’t it concern us that the followers of George II have more in common with the Tory followers of George III than with Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson?

Seems like it to me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s