Left over from the Repub convention:
Like my teammate Doug Grow, I’ve noticed the recent reliance of Republicans on the term “Constitutional Conservative” as the label for themselves and the candidates they admire. It’s an interesting term and one can imagine what it is supposed to mean and why its users believe it works for them, but as a word dink I’ve been wondering whether it was merely self-serving or also redundant. Those who use it are presumably conservatives who believe that anyone who respects the Constitution must be on their side because everything that conservatives believe in is consistent with the principles of the great charter.
I question that, but if it’s true then “Constitution” and “conservative” are virtually synonyms, so putting the two together would be like the old “Jewish rabbi” solecism that your 7th grade English teacher tried to warn you about. Or is there some category of conservative that is not constitutional? Or is there some portion of liberals who are constitutional?
Luckily, at the convention I had momentary access one of the experts on this question, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, so I asked her whether she believed “Constitutional conservative” was a redundancy or whether she could explain how a person could be conservative without becing a “Constitutional conservative.” She pivoted to a non-answer, saying that “Constitutional conservative is just such a fantastic term” because it embraces many Democrats whom she has talked to who regret their vote for Obama because they never imagined he would go so wild with spending and deficits.
I tried playing my other card: Could the congresswoman imagine that there could such a thing as a “constitutional liberal.”
A constitutional what? Bachmann inquired, perplexed. “Liberal” I riposted. Is it possible for someone who considers himself a liberal to also respect the Constitution?
“I don’t know,” came the Bachmann guidance. “That’s a good question. I guess we’ll find out. But we invite them to become a part of the party and vote for our candidates.”