January 19, 2011

The Tea Party’s Lasting Influence (Robert Roll Guest Column)

Filed under: Activism,Education,Taxes & Government — Rob Roll @ 10:00 am

After they were sworn in two weeks ago, the members of the Republican-controlled 112th House of Representatives did something that had never been done before on the floor of the House: they read the Constitution in its entirety. Some liberals complained that the version read omitted parts that had been amended, like the part that counted slaves as three-fifths of a person. And these are the people who, in the aftermath of the Arizona shootings, tell us not to try and score political points on everything? But I digress.

Along with reading the Constitution, the House instituted a new rule which requires all bills submitted to cite where in the Constitution Congress is given the authority to enact such a law. These new genuflections to the Constitution run in stark contrast to the shredding of the document that the Democrat-controlled 111th Congress engaged in. The trashing of that sacred document was best exemplified by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s response to a reporter’s question about how Congress can force Americans to buy health insurance. With noticeable contempt she replied, “Are you serious? Are you serious? Are you serious?”

This begs the question, where did this new found respect for the Constitution come from? It did not come from Congress because Congress, by its very nature, is reactive. It came from the Tea Party. It is the Tea Partiers who have brought the Constitution back into the center of the political dialogue, where it belongs.

In the aftermath of the landslide midterm election, the question has been asked, “Will the Tea Party continue to be a powerful force in American politics?” I believe I found the answer to that question last weekend.

I had the opportunity to judge a high school speech and debate tournament. The event I judged, Student Congress, allowed students to write their own bills and then submit them for debate. I was surprised by what I heard. I heard the Constitution invoked in the debate on almost every single piece of legislation. What is even more important is that I did not just hear the standard invocations of the first amendment, I heard students bring up parts of the Constitution that are usually ignored. For example, one student mentioned the the very-important yet often-forgotten Tenth Amendment, which states that all powers not given to Congress are given to the states to the people. Even more encouraging than that, some students even cited the Federalist Papers, which were written by the framers of the Constitution to explain why they structured the federal government the way they did.

This is and will be the lasting legacy of the Tea Party movement; it has increased the American people’s awareness of our founding documents and the messages they contain. The most important message is this: that our rights come from God and no politician can give you them or take them away.

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Robert Roll is a freshman majoring in Finance at Ohio Northern University, and the blog owner’s nephew.

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