‘Constitutional Conservatives’ Who Don’t Really Care About the Constitution.

By Satyam Khanna

palin2webOne of Sarah Palin’s more annoying quirks is her use of political catch phrases that have no practical meaning, like “reformer,” or “small government” or “lamestream media.” The most recent one, I think, is her penchant for using the words “constitutional conservative” to describe every Tea Party candidate that she endorses. Here’s Palin yesterday attaching the term to Rand Paul:

When Rand Paul had anticipated that he’d be able to engage in a discussion, he being a libertarian-leaning, constitutional conservative, being able to engage in the discussion with a TV character, a media personality, who perhaps had an agenda…

After eight years of sitting on their hands while Bush shredded the Constitution, the right wing’s new fealty to the document is particularly meaningless. Regardless, let’s hold Palin and the Tea Partiers to their word.

If they really believe in loyalty to the Constitution, then they should naturally believe in the Supremacy Clause, thus, state laws that conflict with federal laws, like Arizona’s SB 1070, should be held unconstitutional. They should also be advocating for robust Fourth Amendment rights to privacy against government surveillance.

They should also be fighting for equality, a concept enshrined in the opening words of the Declaration of Independence and throughout the Constitution. So, Tea Partiers should be rushing to condemn “constitutional conservative” Rand Paul, who does not seem to believe in equal protection under the law. And that means their forgetting to include the word “equality” in the Tea Party Constitution was a mere oversight, right? And is it too much to expect protest signs in favor of due process rights?

Everyone has his or her view of what the Constitution really means. But the right-wing tendency to harp on the “original” Constitution and Bill of Rights (albeit selectively) and omit from their dogma the most pivotal amendments in our history is just willful ignorance. If you’re going to make “constitutionalism” a plank of your political movement, then you need adhere to the principles of the whole document, which, in part at least, is a remarkably progressive work.