There is always one black Conservative in the room when they have these events. I wonder if Ken Blackwell,
One of the recurring narratives in the Tea Party, Republican, Right wing populist narrative is a need for America to renew its "Constitutional values" and "the original intent" of that most sacred of documents. This is not a new trope for the Right: the idea that Republicans are the true defenders of America's constitutional democracy has served as one of Conservativism's cornerstones for decades. Interestingly, the long running tension between "freedom from" and "freedom to" is a neat parallel with how the Reagan Right was able to transform "liberal" and "progressive"--what were once positive political identifiers--into dirty words.
As a result, the State has been crippled in its ability to deal with real problems--and the public robbed of any expectations for what they are rightly due as citizens. This phenomenon spawns a public that is hurting and angry. But this anger is scatter shot: it villifies bankers and Wall Street; it smears Obama as being a Socialist; it rails against "liberal elites"; it prays at the mantle of Right Wing Populism and the Tea Parties; it wallows in xenophobia; it sees an effort to expand health care as a threat to freedom; it crashes itself into federal buildings in acts of domestic terrorism.
This anger also wraps itself in the vestments and language of "renewal" and "traditional" values. These appeals to the Constitution as a source for "democratic renewal," and as a counterpoint to the Age of Obama, are also an inexorably tempting stage for political theatrics. From Glenn Beck's Thomas Paine impersonator, to the predilection of middle age white men to dress up like Revolutionary War era minutemen at Right wing rallies (people I like to call Patriotic Furries), as well as to the signing of The Mount Vernon Statement (what is an ostensible commitment to "American values" and "conservative" principles) these high theatrics are a signal to some imagined past of a perfect American founding.
The appeals to an (im)perfect past are also given voice by the dog whistle politics of the Right wing Republican, Tea Party Palin crowd. One should take careful note of how this faction uses the words "nullification" or "succession," what are in fact signals to a democracy that is separate and not equal. I would further suggest that those who utter these racially laden codewords may not know the hateful origins of what they speak. But, they do know both the emotional content and implication of these words for a select audience that is moved by the politics of white racial resentment:
Not surprisingly, this appeal to the core values of America's founding is both myopic and narrow--especially in how it treats the "inconvenient" facts of history. For example: See how conservatives deal with such "minor" problems as slavery and how America was intentionally constructed as a limited, narrow, and circumscribed democracy:
Are black conservatives struck by the irony that they are signing a pledge to return to "traditional" American values, when the document they worship originally deemed black folks as 3/5ths of a person, the property of Whites, and where America was a constitutional slaveocracy? Funny, how deep is the commitment of these black conservatives to the framers' original intent? Are these black conservatives willing to sign themselves over as chattel to their white, fellow cosigners of The Mount Vernon Statement? Will these black conservatives put on a yoke, submit to an overseer, and/or wear a back of scars earned on the whipping post as they reenact the America of old?
It is no surprise that I believe the Constitution is an imperfect document. It is a product of its time--both good and bad. It embodies white supremacy, classism, sexism, and legitimates the wholesale exploitation and exclusion of whole groups of citizens because they are conceived of as being outside of the polity. And the Constitution and America's other founding documents have also inspired freedom loving peoples to transcend the limitations of the framers' intentions.
In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that the greatness of that singular document is its ability to embody a set of principles that are flexible. Thus, the Constitution endures.
So help me understand, why make the Constitution into a magical totem? How does the Right rationalize away the inconveniences and imperfections? Is it willful ignorance? Or perhaps most troublesomely, is this indifference a function of an exclusionary America that many conservatives continue to yearn for?