Incoming tea party extremists Cindy Gamrat and Todd Courser have already pledged that the first piece of legislation they introduce will be a personhood amendment that would ban abortion in Michigan. The fact that this is unconstitutional and has been tossed out in other states already does not deter the two from their crusade. And I use the word “crusade” very deliberately; Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat are very much on a religious crusade. With the release of their “Contract for Liberty” this week (read it HERE or HERE), the two of them have made it very clear that their vision for Michigan’s government is one ruled by their own personal flavor of Christianity.
As you read through the Courser and Gamrat’s “Contract”, it quickly becomes very clear that it is actually not a contract at all. Rather, it is a religious manifesto. The word “God” appears twelve times. Some version of “divine” appears nine times. The word “worship” occurs six times. In contrast, the word “democracy” occurs exactly zero times.
The overarching theme in their Manifesto can be found in the section titled “Hearts Set Aflame for Liberty…”:
As God gives us the freedom to choose salvation through Christ or reject Him, our own government should allow us the self-determination of personal success or failure. God’s Providence, individual liberty, and personal responsibility make up America’s foundation, prepared and poured years ago. The national treasures that symbolize our Constitutional Republic, our Capitol and White House and all the other precious symbols, were crafted out of rock and metal but bound together by the blood, sweat, and tears of the sacrificial giving of our patriot leaders. All of these ideas flow from Divine inspiration of hearts set aflame for liberty by the moving of the power of the Holy Spirit.
Courser and Gamrat make it clear that they believe the men (“Founders”) who wrote our Constitution and formed our republic were “divinely inspired” men who “took their very inspiration from the Divine Inerrant Word of God”. This, in their mind, justifies running our state government according to their personal interpretations – or at least the interpretations of their personal Christian sects – of the Bible, a book written over two millennia ago, nine hundred years before the concept of zero as a number was invented.
Let’s have a look at the Courser/Gamrat Manifesto. The Manifesto has a preamble and an epilogue wrapped around ten specific “freedoms”. After each freedom you’ll find the phrase “Legislation has been submitted for drafting“.
1. The Freedom to be Born
Although the termination of a pregnancy is not mentioned in either the Bible, the U.S. Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, the Courser/Gamrat Manifesto claims that a woman exercising her constitutionally-protected right to a safe and legal abortion “absolutely conflicts with both God’s Word and our rights as guaranteed under the Constitution”. Here, they rely on their religious sects’ declarations of when life begins and the legislation that they are introducing – the aforementioned personhood amendment – is predicated on those declarations. As you would predict, their Manifesto makes no mention of society’s or government’s duty to care for the unwanted children produced by their “forced birth” policies. In the Gamrat/Courser theocracy, every sperm and fetus is sacred but, once you’re born, yer on yer own, kid.
2. The Freedom to Defend Ourselves
Todd Courser bizarrely referred to AR-15 semi-automatic rifles as “modern muskets” when he posted photos of his boys holding these weapons during what he called a session to “train up my four children as the weapons for liberty that will impact the future both for freedom, but also for Christ”. This vision of average citizens arming themselves to protect against a tyrannical government is echoed in this “freedom”. According to the Courser/Gamrat Manifesto, “the 2nd Amendment was not only a protection against other individuals but rather was intended to place a check on the tyrannical power of an unfettered government”. These not-so-veiled threats about “Second Amendment remedies” (to quote Sharron Angle) are reminiscent of the rhetoric we hear from Michigan Militia, survivalist-type lunatics that pop their heads up from time to time. Apparently one person’s “well regulated militia” is another person’s young children.
3. Health Care Freedom
In light of Gamrat and Courser’s personhood amendment plans, the first line of this “freedom” section is knee-deep in irony: “There is no more fundamental right than to be free from government intrusion into the intimacy and privacy of our own bodies.” Women who wish to make their own reproductive health decisions would likely agree with Courser and Gamrat on this if only they actually meant it.
In light of the second line of their Manifesto that talks about the “Founder’s [sic] intent” with regard to “personal responsibility”, the last line this “freedom” is equally ironical: “Health care and health insurance should be voluntary and people should have the freedom to choose their own health practitioner.” If people choose not have health insurance, they put the rest of us involuntarily on the hook for paying for their voluntary decision if they go to the hospital.
In the final analysis it’s clear that “health care freedom”, when used by Gamrat and Courser, is simply code for the fact that they are anti-Obamacare and that they are irrationally afraid of non-existent “death panels” (or at least want others to be.)
4. The Freedom to Worship
“The Pilgrims were not attempting to set in place a theocracy; they came to the New World to escape from government-imposed religious worship,” say Courser and Gamrat in this “freedom” section. That, apparently, is THEIR job. What they mean when they say “freedom to worship” is actually “authority to force others to live under their Christian sect’s rules” and “freedom to be bigots”. Nothing more.
5. The Freedom from Regulatory Tyranny
Government regulations, according to the Gamrat/Courser Manifesto is a “weight [that] suffocates and obstructs and is a boot on the neck of our pursuit of happiness, leaving in its wake a destitute wasteland where once a proud, strong, Constitutional Republic stood.” So, when government has the audacity to prohibit corporations from polluting our environment, to prevent discrimination against U.S. citizens, or requires our automobiles to be safe, you are a victim of tyranny and being robbed of the “freedom” to live with polluted land, air, and sky, to drink contaminated water and unsafe food, to drive a vehicle that is “unsafe at any speed“. Because, let’s face it, nothing destroys our happiness like a glass of clean water free from toxic chemicals. And, dude, get your jackboot off my bigotry.
6. The Freedom to Own Property
I’ll confess, I have no idea what Courser and Gamrat are going on about with this one. I was unaware our freedom to own property was being abridged by the government.
7. The Freedom from Economic Intrusion
This 192-word section can be summed up with just five words: “Helping poor people is tyranny.” I will agree with this statement, though: “Our Founders did not envision economic favoritism through corporate entitlements that allow for politically connected groups and individuals to profit from governmental intrusion into the marketplace.” I look forward to Gamrat/Courser legislation that seeks to end the billions in government subsidies to Big Oil companies and for-profit charter schools.
8. The Freedom from Unjust Taxation
In this section, Courser and Gamrat show that they, like nearly every tea partier I have encountered, have no idea what the Boston Tea Party was all about. According to the Gamrat/Courser Manifesto, “Oppressive taxation was the kindling on the fire for the Revolutionary War; the Stamp Act and the Boston TEA Party were pivotal to our Founders’ cause for freedom.” The reality is that what American settlers objected to was taxation without representation. If they were going to be taxed, something acknowledged in the U.S. Constitution as a duty of government, they should have a voice in the government that imposes the tax. It was NOT about taxes being too high. Most Americans understand that paying taxes is part of the price of admission for living in the greatest country in the world; an act of patriotism, really. Tea partiers like Gamrat and Courser are far too self-serving, short-sighted, and self-interested to understand this.
9. Restoration of the Right to Privacy from Government Intrusions
I think I actually agree with the Courser/Gamrat Manifesto on this particular “freedom”. It seems to be a declaration against government electronic surveillance of ordinary citizens. Who knew Gamrat and Courser were such devotees of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange?!
10. Free and Independent State
One of the things that many conservatives, particularly tea partiers, like to ignore is found in the name of our country: the UNITED States of America. We are, in fact, a union; a collection of states united to form something larger than themselves to the benefit of all of the parts, an indisputable fact that the Courser/Gamrat Manifesto conveniently ignores. Like so many other self-described “patriots” they worship the Founding Fathers and the U.S. Constitution as “divinely-inspired” right up to the point where the precepts embodied in the Constitution get in the way of their greedy, Ayn Randian self-interest and desire not to participate in the Union. This “freedom” borders on a declaration that they wish to secede from the USA to form their own independent theocracy. It is, at its core, anti-American in the truest sense of the word.
“We have before us a choice of liberty or servitude,” Gamrat and Courser write. The irony is that the theocracy they are proposing is predicated on following a set of “rules” that is determined by their personal religious sect. Those of us who reject their worldview as greedy, self-interested, and anti-American would be stripped of our own liberty on a wide array of issues if the elements in the Gamrat/Courser Manifesto are passed into law.
Fortunately for us, it is the bedrock foundation that our republic is founded on, the one that Courser and Gamrat genuflect before – our U.S. Constitution – that will protect us from their efforts to oppress those with whom they disagree. And THAT is why our Union is “more perfect”.
[Photo by Chris Savage | Eclectablog]