In fact, while the Tea Partiers declare that they want to go to back to the ideas of the Constitution, it seems that they really want to return to the Articles of Confederation, the failed experiment with a weak central government that was such a disaster George Washington once suggested that it nearly cost Americans victory in the Revolutionary War. The Tea Party’s idea that the federal government has no power to act in key areas such as health care, environmental protection and civil rights fits more with the discarded Articles than with the Founders’ second and lasting attempt to craft a national charter, our Constitution.
As a history refresher, the Articles of Confederation, adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1777 and ratified in 1781, established a confederacy built merely on a “firm league of friendship” between thirteen independent states. There was only a single branch of national government, the Congress, which was made up of state delegations. Congress under the Articles of Confederation had some powers, but was given no means to execute those powers. Congress could not directly tax individuals or enact legislation that directly affected citizens; it could raise money only by making requests to the states.
By the time our Founders took up the task of drafting the Constitution in 1787, they had lived under the dysfunctional Articles for a decade and were focused on creating a new, better form of government with a sufficiently strong federal power. This is exactly what our Constitution establishes, giving Congress the power to, among other things, regulate interstate commerce and tax and spend for the general welfare.
It’s not just the U.S. people around the world love their catch phrases. These small snips of jargonism that supposedly define us. Conservatives have cornered the ‘small government’ meme. While I tend to think those at the top of the far Right food chain know better: the wonderfulness of no bid contracts for Halliburton and Blackwater, unfunded laws like Medicare part D ( funding was shored up and the doughnut hole closed by health-care reform). The Conservatives next door actually believe they are for small government despite evidence to the contrary – yet liberals and Democrats have made government smaller when they govern. We’d never let a jean manufacturer get away with that. If Conservojeans said they were 100% cotton and the public realized they were 50% polyester they’d be up in arms over false advertising. That in mind, maybe we should be putting content and care labels on the constitution and history: Warning do not wring through Conservative wash as the content will become unrecognizable.
Failure of “Bloomerism”
The attempt on the part of certain American women to assume masculine or semi-masculine habiliments-a movement which received the name of Bloomerism from one of its prominent American advocates-was a bold and energetic one, but not successful. Some thousands of American women adopted what they thought a convenient and healthful Costume and were brave to heroism and persevering to fanaticism, but the attempted reform was a failure. America could rebel against a foreign government; she may revolutionize her own; out America is not strong enough to war upon the fashions of civilization. A woman in New York may make a political speech to three or four thousand people, but to wear a Bloomer dress down Broadway is another affair, and a far greater difficulty would be to get others to follow her example.
Thomas Low Nichols. Forty Years of American Life. London: 1874. Reprinted, New York: 1937.
I don’t know that Bloomerism was a failure. Fashion on the surface, yet it pushed for individual freedom and expanded the cultural definition of what that meant in the context of women and individual choices. The fashion died, but the ideals would live on through American culture up through the suffrage movement.
A little dark humor – Stouffers To Include Suicide Prevention Tips On Single Serve Microwavable Meals…