Thursday, April 05, 2012

Confederate "Heritage" Month 2012, April 5: Michael Lind on the southern roots of Republican Tea Party politics

One of Michael Lind's strong points as a political analyst is recognizing continuities between Southern segregationist political trends and the "conservatism" of today's Republican Party. And that is his focus in The Tea Party, the debt ceiling, and white Southern extremism Salon 08/02/2011.

His closing paragraph gives a good example of why I use Andrew Jackson as the namesake for my blog:

The debt ceiling crisis is the latest case in which the radical right in the South has held America hostage until its demands are met. Presidents Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln refused to appease the Southern fanatics. Unfortunately, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress chose not to follow their example and instead gave in. In doing so, they have encouraged the neo-Confederate minority in Congress to find yet another opportunity in the near future to extort concessions from America's majority by sabotaging America's government. [my emphasis]
Lind looks at the regional composition of the House Tea Party caucus and, yes, it's heavily Southern. And he has some good observations about how Southern segregationist-obstructionist thinking shapes the Republicans' framing of the debt ceiling fight.

Being a big fan of both the patron saints of the Democratic Party's "Jefferson-Jackson" events, I'd have to say that Lind splits the ticket in an uncomfortable way here:

The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 and 1799 asserted the alleged right of states to "nullify" any federal law that state lawmakers consider unconstitutional. This obstructionist mentality led to the Nullification Crisis of 1832, when South Carolina refused to enforce federal tariffs. Civil War was averted only when President Andrew Jackson, a Southerner himself, forced the nullifiers to back down.
Thomas Jefferson and James Madison did back the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions. But the topic wasn't slavery or some general "obstructionist mentality." They were the repressive federal laws known as the Alien and Sedition Acts, which directly impinged on freedom of speech and the press. The principle of federal judicial review had not yet been established; that didn't occur until the Jefferson Administration in the famous case of Marbury v. Madison (1803). Jefferson and Madison weren't trying to establish the right of states to secede. They were seeking a way to defend the basic First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and the press in the context of the still-new Constitutional government to protect basic and clear Constitutional provisions when no clear judicial remedies were available.

But Lind's account is right on Old Hickory's stand on the Nullification Controversy.

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