In the most recent edition of the Maroon, Viewpoints columnist Andrew Thornton takes a stab at the Tea Party Patriot Contract from America. “In none of these proposals do we see the interests of ordinary Americans favored over the interests of right-wing ideologues,” writes Thornton.
Thornton’s narrow-minded dismissal of the majority of these proposals as “utterly insane,” however, is misleading and overlooks the potential value of several of the suggested reforms. At least nine of the 21 listed proposals have significant bipartisan backing, support of the general public, and/or represent changes that are fundamentally aligned with the interests of America’s middle class.
Consider proposals three and 21, which call on all legislation to be available online for public viewing and broadcasting non-emergency meetings on C-SPAN, respectively. President Obama himself promised to air the health care negotiations during his campaign. Likewise, legislation requiring that all bills be available online before consideration by the House has already been introduced by a Democratic lawmaker from Washington.
Proposal 16 calls for a temporary moratorium on earmarks. In 2006, Democrats in Congress did just that. Proposal four would require every bill to include a constitutional justification; the House of Representatives adopted a very similar reform during the 105th Congress. Proposal 14 seeks to restrict the use of eminent domain on the basis of “economic development.” I am sure citizens from New London, CT, plaintiffs in the famous Kelo Supreme Court case, would agree that this is just an extremist right-wing pet project. Finally, the idea of creating a commission to identify duplication, waste, and ineffectiveness in the government sounds oddly similar to Obama’s promise to create a White House performance chief officer to study ways of eliminating waste and efficiency.
In short, nobody is perfect, especially the Tea Parties, but let’s give credit where it’s due and avoid unwarranted generalizations.
Class of 2013