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I bet not many of you have heard of "Tentherism Why would you? It's a bizarre misreading of the Constitution that one might find coming out of the new textbooks approved by the wingnut Texas School board. But that's just a guess. (In reality, as Dave explained awhile back, 'Tentherism' was first devised by Patriot/militia movement leaders back in the 1990s.)
It works great for Russell Pearce, the xenophobic president of the Arizona Senate responsible for the vile SB-1070 racial-profiling law, whose radical bastardization of the U.S. Constitution is limitless. While many in the Tea Party coalition are using this twisted tactic to attack Social Security, child labor laws, federal taxes and health-care reform, in Pearce's mind, it means you're not really a citizen of the United States at all.
One of the most radical offshoots of modern conservatism in the United States is called “tentherism,” which invokes the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment to claim that a whole host of federal government powers are illegitimate, from the operations of the Social Security program to the national highway system, and that states are supreme.
During a speech at the Oceanside Tea Party rally in recent months, Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce (R) took this philosophy to a new extreme. In the speech, where he denounced the federal government’s efforts to stop the implementation of the state’s radical anti-immigrant law, Pearce claimed that Americans aren’t even citizens of the United States, that they are rather citizens of “sovereign states,” meaning that we should be loyal to the laws of individual states rather than the federal government:
PEARCE: U.S. history, most of us weren’t around when the Constitution was written. But you remember we kind of existed before Congress, the states. We created the Congress, we created the federal government, by compact. Do you know what existed before the Congress, the states? Do you know, you’re not a citizen of the United States. You’re a citizen of a sovereign state. The fifty sovereign states makes up United States of America, we’re citizens of those sovereign states. It is not a delegated authority. It’s an inherent authority that states have over the federal government. [applause] It’s about time somebody gets it right!
And if Pearce actually read the Constitution, he would also see that it clearly trumps state law and “shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby.” This isn’t the first time Pearce has flirted with secessionist tendencies. Earlier this year, he sponsored a measure that would essentially nullify federal laws that Arizona state lawmakers disagreed with, amounting to a radical assault on our rule of law.
States' rights have been the basis for all kinds of right-wing resistance to civil-rights measures, beginning with the South's claims in the 1950s and '60s that Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Acts were infringements upon them; Ronald Reagan frequently resorted to this argument as he began his climb up the food chain of the GOP.
But Tentherism is states' rights on steroids. And in Pearce's hands, it's approaching advocacy of the most extreme far-right belief system -- "sovereign citizenship," or the Patriot/militia belief that individual citizens can declare themselves exempt from federal oversight.
This is not particularly surprising from Pearce, considering his propensity for playing footsie with neo-Nazis and his advocacy of all kinds of far-right ideas, primarily those that bash Latinos -- so much so that his fellow Arizona Republicans finally stopped his latest anti-immigrant slate after the state's business community pleaded with them to give it up.
But as we've seen, crazy is hard to give up. Every time he thinks up a way to dehumanize Latinos, I think it must be like a hit on a crack pipe to a man like Pearce. It's very addictive. So what do you think his response is to these men of business, the so called Masters of the Universe? Well, some people can't take a hint.
Is it any wonder that so many people are frustrated living with these Tom Tancredo-like extremists in AZ that they want to break away and rejoin the USofA as the 51st state?