Nothing characterizes today’s conservative movement like its disdain for the Constitution. For the last several months, Americans have been bombarded with absurd claims that everything from child labor laws to the federal ban on whites-only lunch counters to the minimum wage to Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional, while simultaneously enduring right-wing demands that much of the Constitution be repealed. So it should come as no surprise that Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) wants a piece of this action.
In a book that he plans to release shortly, Perry comes down against two amendments to the Constitution:
Perry also suggests that he’s not a big fan of the 17th Amendment, which calls for the direct election of U.S. senators by the people. He writes, “The American people mistakenly empowered the federal government during a fit of populist rage in the early twentieth century by giving it an unlimited source of income (the Sixteenth Amendment) and by changing the way senators are elected (the Seventeenth Amendment).“
Perry’s proposal to return to the days when senators were chosen by political insiders is increasingly popular among far-right extremists, and has even become a regular feature on the right’s in-house cable network. Likewise, his opposition to the Sixteenth Amendment, which enables the income tax, is hardly surprising giving the right’s single-minded opposition to taxation.
Yet, while extreme proposals like eliminating senate elections or rendering the income tax unconstitutional (or having Texas secede from the union) may be a good way to rally Perry’s right-wing base, they also raise serious questions about his fitness to govern. No one likes paying taxes, but taxes also pay for essential programs such as Medicare, Social Security and the military. Perry offers no solutions for how we will continue to protect our nation if the lion’s share of federal revenue disappears overnight.