Since its inception in 2009, the tea party movement has been working tirelessly to downsize big government. While the movement’s central theme has been bringing a semblance of fiscal sanity to government at the national and state levels, it also seeks to make the Constitution the guide for presidential, congressional and judicial decisions.
Many of the issues the movement has focused on — including bailouts and debt — are well-known to voters. Importantly, however, the movement has also focused voters’ attention on how the lack of respect shown by both major political parties toward the nation’s founding principles has undermined our basic liberties.
Now, the Georgia Tea Party has crafted a list of grievances, “The Marietta Declaration,” which outlines how the last several presidents have violated the Constitution and offers a set of guidelines for pulling ourselves out of the big-government quicksand.
This document explains how our presidents have become quasi-legislatures who make policy through executive orders and signing statements, with little in the way of checks and balances, while executive branch agencies enact policies and laws through regulatory fiat, also without the approval of Congress.
The Marietta Declaration calls for a return to federalism, a principle of government expressly guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment but which has been largely ignored by modern presidents, Congresses and federal judges. More specifically, the document supports abolishing “federal departments and programs that are not performing responsibilities expressly delegated to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution.” It also calls on the president to rescind any and all executive orders “that exceed the executive authority” expressed in the Constitution, for “czars” to be eliminated unless they are properly confirmed by the Senate and for the lawmaking process to be returned to Congress.
It’s unrealistic to expect the Marietta Declaration to be quickly implemented in its entirety, but it’s a valuable blueprint on which actual government decisions and actions can be based.
The Georgia Tea Party has already received substantial support for the principles expressed in the Marietta Declaration from local Republican Party organizations, state legislators and other elected officials in Georgia. It’s even gaining national attention and support. Ron Paul, the libertarian-leaning congressman and Republican presidential candidate, has signed on as a supporter.
While some in Washington may scoff at suggestions put forward by tea partiers, tea partiers proved in the 2010 midterm elections that they are too influential to ignore. The Republican Party would do well to incorporate the principles expressed in the Marietta Declaration into its platform. And the GOP’s eventual nominee could do himself a real favor by acting similarly.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He provides regular commentary to Daily Caller readers.