Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Right’s ‘Limited Government’ Scam

A good read by Robert Parry.

A favorite line from the American Right – both well-educated libertarians and know-nothing Tea Partiers – is that the Founders believed in “limited government” and the United States must return to that constitutional principle. But the argument is both nonsensical and insulting.

Everyone believes in “limited government” – unless you’re a totalitarian or a fan of absolute monarchies. Liberals, conservatives, socialists, free-market ideologues and pretty much everyone in between believe in limitations of government power. The point of having a constitution is to set the limits and rules for a government.

Today’s Right doesn’t want to acknowledge this history because it destroys the right-wing narrative by revealing the Framers to be advocates of a strong central government and opponents of states’ rights.

Indeed, this current right-wing attack on “federal overreach” has been around since the 1950s and the civil rights movement, which put an end to Jim Crow laws in the South. The Right’s claim is essentially neo-Confederate and harkens back to the South’s efforts prior to the Civil War to insist that slave-states had the right to nullify federal laws and ultimately to secede from the Union.

As part of that propaganda effort, wealthy right-wingers, like the Koch Brothers, invested heavily in think tanks and academic institutions where “scholars” cherry-picked quotes from key Framers, particularly Madison, to distort the history surrounding the Constitution. This false history was then packaged and sold to ill-informed Tea Party types who fancied themselves as channeling the anti-government passions of the Founders.

For instance, one right-wing canard about the Second Amendment is that the Framers wanted an armed citizenry so the people could go to war with the government to protect individual liberties. The reality, of course, was entirely different. Aristocrats like Madison and Washington wanted armed militias so the government could maintain order in the face of disruptions like Shays’ Rebellion as well as to resist Native Americans on the frontiers and to put down slave revolts.
The real reason for 'limited government', of course, is to let the 1% roll over the rest of us unimpeded. The money boys mask their desire with all that other shit so the 'tards will buy into it.


Anonymous said...

for more on this I highly recommend "Tempest at Dawn" by James Best. It's all this and more. Enjoy and thanks for your hard work. I am usually a lurker, but I had to post this time.

BadTux said...

The "limited government" scam actually dates even further back than the 1950's. The Confederates evoked it for why they were seceding -- the government had no right to restrict what states slaves could be carried to, and Abraham Lincoln was going to steal all their slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation pretty much emphasized that to them, though the near-destruction of Lee's army at Gettysburg (he lost half his manpower there either to death, injury, or desertion) pretty much ended any chance of the South getting revenge on Lincoln for his "imperial overreach".

In other words: "limited government" today is just code words for "right to keep slaves or near-slaves". The right to ban abortions (i.e. making women slaves to men), the right to lynch uppity nigras (Florida's "stand your ground" law), etc. Same old, same old.

- Badtux the Slavery-hatin' Penguin

Gordon said...

Thank you both.

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