Spurred by an administration he believes to be guilty of numerous transgressions, self-described American patriot Kyle Mortensen, 47, is a vehement defender of ideas he seems to think are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and principles that brave men have fought and died for solely in his head.
“Our very way of life is under siege,” said Mortensen, whose understanding of the Constitution derives not from a close reading of the document but from talk-show pundits, books by television personalities, and the limitless expanse of his own colorful imagination. “It’s time for true Americans to stand up and protect the values that make us who we are.”
Mortensen said his admiration for the loose assemblage of vague half-notions he calls the Constitution has only grown over time. He believes that each detail he has pulled from thin air—from prohibitions on sodomy and flag-burning, to mandatory crackdowns on immigrants, to the right of citizens not to have their hard-earned income confiscated in the form of taxes—has contributed to making it the best framework for governance “since the Ten Commandments.”
Support for Constitutional principles is not absolute. TPM [Tea Party members] supporters were twice as likely than others to favor a constitutional amendment banning flag burning; many also support efforts to overturn citizenship as defined by the Fourteenth Amendment. That TPM supporters simultaneously want to honor the founders’ Constitution and alter that same document highlights the political flexibility of the cultural symbols they draw on.
The TPM supporters’ inconsistent views of the Constitution suggests that their nostalgic embrace of the document is animated more by a network of cultural associations than a thorough commitment to the original text.
But, as Ian Millhiser points out, it’s not so much a desire to amend the Constitution as:
simply asserting repeatedly and loudly that the Constitution already imposes their preferred policy outcomes on the country — and in ignoring any evidence to the contrary.
In the past two years, we’ve seen Tea Party elected officials claim that everything from Social Security, to Medicare, to Pell Grants and federal student loans, to federal disaster relief, to the minimum wage, to child labor laws, to the ban on whites-only lunch counters all violate the Constitution.
I feel bad for the Onion or any other satirical publication that has to stay out in front of people who are already caricatures. I was tempted to write some kind of gag post about Rick Perry asserting that the entire U.S. government is unconstitutional, but it just didn’t seem far enough from reality.