After reading a review by Laurence Vance, of Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse, Senator Jim DeMint’s latest book, I was inspired to conduct the following semi-scientific study.
First, a note about sources: Vance often refers to “The Freedom Index” when writing about Republican politicians. Released by The New American, “The Freedom Index” compiles the voting records of every member of congress and judges them on a number of criteria, including “limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements.” A score of 0 to 100% is then awarded based on the voting record.
Second, it’s also important to note that simply voting with the constitution isn’t necessarily good on its own merit. A member of congress could vote for an amendment that limits freedom, a large spending bill, some onerous treaty, and an unjust war, and still be voting in accordance with the constitution.
So while it’s not exactly clear that a high score is necessarily a good thing, it is certainly true that a low score is necessarily bad. This is because virtually no law that circumvented the constitution did anything to increase individual liberty; while virtually every law that ran against the spirit, or letter, of the compact did reduce personal freedom.
I reviewed the scores of several prominent GOP figures in contemporary politics. I chose Pat Roberts from Kansas and Roy Blunt of Missouri in order to have local politicians in the study. The others were included because of their notoriety or positions in the congress, and make for a good metric of the GOP overall. Note that Blunt’s scores are combined from his time in the House and the Senate.
Take a look at the table of raw data below. Do you notice anything significant?
If you noticed that a pattern developed, whereby a Republican’s adherence to the constitution was dependent on which party controlled the congress and/or the White House, you were correct. The average score moves as if it’s dependent on which party controls the congress or the White House. See the table and graph below.
Unfortunately I could only find data back to the last portion of the 109th Congress, when the GOP had control of congress and the White House, but it’s perfectly clear what happened. During that time the average among these politicians was about 42.7. As long as the GOP controlled the reins it didn’t matter what was happening, they did what they wanted.
Next, we see that during the last two years of Bush II the GOP was voting more in-line with the constitution. No doubt this was in opposition to the Democrats’ agenda being pushed following their rise in the House of Representatives. But it’s not until president Obama’s inauguration in early ’09 that the scores really pick up, averaging at 87; more than double their score from just two years before. “What, their guy is in charge now? Better play by the rules.”
From this point the scores hold fairly constant, but suddenly fall again with the swearing in of the 112th session of congress, this time with a house dominated by the GOP. In a period of about 14 months the scores plummet by almost 30 points, settling at 58, or within just a point or two of where they sat in the last year of Bush II’s administration.
I guess these guys weren’t paying attention when Michele Bachmann said“voters called for an end to reckless spending and a renewed commitment to the Constitution … Republicans are serious about respecting the Constitution.”