The party that seems most fond of quoting the founding fathers also seems most eager to ignore those founders when power is attained and must be, at all costs, maintained. Actually, mere maintenance isn't enough for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay because he wants to extend his machine's power.
Recently whining about the Terri Schiavo distraction (yes, there were/are things going on in the world other than Schiavo's and the pope's death), DeLay said Republican busybodies "will look at an arrogant and out-of-control judiciary that thumbs its nose at Congress and the president."
Without addressing the ways in which the Republican machine and its puppet president has exemplified arrogance and being out of control (War in Iraq, Social Security, energy policy – R.I.P. Alaska – gay rights, etc.), I would like to introduce something the good ol' boy from Texas may have missed out on while (apparently) sleeping through his American history class.
To avoid the tyranny that was prevalent in England, and other forms of governments prior to the formation of this country, our founding fathers created a government with three distinct branches of government that had checks and balances over each other.
Though I am sure DeLay has only heard rumors of the following given his recent rhetoric, James Madison stressed the importance of these checks and balances in Federalist 51. (The Federalist Papers were a series of essays written in support of the newly drafted Constitution. Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay wrote a combined 82 essays urging the document's ratification).
Madison wrote in 51: "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government."
So, Madison would basically tell DeLay to shut his trap because the judiciary did exactly as it was supposed to do and prevented the Republican machine from abusing its power.
I am not interested in the extended abortion argument portion of this mind-numbing debate; rather, I am interested in a party that is trying harder and harder to swallow up all branches of government and impose its narrow ideology on the rest of this country and world.
What is dangerous about this issue is the emotion behind the rhetoric. Republicans and other social busybodies are more than willing to let our leaders molest the ideals we as Americans consider sacred if a given issue involves fear, anxiety and tears. We let fear get the best of us with the War on Terror, and look at all the problems that has spawned (Patriot Act, Preemptive War Doctrine, etc.).
I fear that DeLay will succeed and the Republican machine will use the emotion from the Schiavo distraction to steamroll its power over the legislative branch – the last branch able to balance the corrupt Republican machine that's abusing the other two branches.
Though only mildly comforting, Bush and other Republican leaders are wisely steering clear of DeLay – like brain farts with toned-down, this-is-a-sad-day rhetoric. However, I don't doubt the Republican legion will try to use the tears from the Schiavo case to promote its agenda and extend its power. Look out 2006.
What's ironic is Madison would be a Republican if alive today and was strongly opposed to a strong, centralized government. The kind of government DeLay hopes to create.
Vincent Adams is an English graduate student. His column runs every Tuesday in the Collegian.