Can the tea party revive America's higher law?

January 18, 2011

Leadership studies and Constitutional scholar Gary L. McDowell co-authors article in Jan. 16, 2011 Richmond Times-Dispatch that explores the staying power of the tea party movement.

The tea party movement is arguably one of the most exciting and promising developments in American politics in quite a long time.

At the most simplistic level, it is as if Richard Nixon's great sullen and silent majority has finally been roused from its slumber of political indifference and is simply not going to take it anymore. But it also has the potential of being something much deeper than a mere guttural growl of dissatisfaction with the status quo.

The promised depth of the movement comes from its unapologetic insistence that it is, first and foremost, a constitutional movement, that it is committed to nothing less than the recovery of the Founders' Constitution.

To demonstrate that commitment, the newly assembled Republicans in the 112th Congress began their work with the recitation of the Constitution itself. It was a gesture to make clear that to them the Constitution still matters.

But if the tea party movement — and, by extension, the Republican congressional party — is to prove that it is offering not mere symbolism but real and clear direction, it will take more than the mere recitation of our basic law. There will have to be a serious focus on exactly what the Founders' Constitution means within the context of contemporary politics. ... More