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By Dr. Harold W. Pease

Concerned that the GOP presidential debates were not focusing upon issues close to the Tea Party Movement, more especially the candidates’ views on the U. S. Constitution, from which we have drifted in recent decades, and the Federal Reserve, a non-governmental private organization which determines the value of every dollar in our pocket, the movement teamed up with CNN for yet another debate, this one in Orlando, Florida on September 12. CNN commentator, Wolf Bitzer, narrated taking questions from the audience, the Internet, and from Tea Party groups assembled in parts scattered throughout the nation. All questions and questionnaires appeared to be pre-selected by CNN except for those of Mr. Bitzer, which were at least a third of those asked.

If these two areas were to be more thoroughly covered Tea Party members had to be sorely disappointed. With respect to the Federal Reserve created by Congress in 1913 allowing the Central Bankers to regulate the economy in order to prevent recessions and depressions in the future, the only question asked was with respect to auditing the Federal Reserve. All seemed at least luke-warm to doing so with Ron Paul and Michelle Bachmann having the strongest positions toward doing so. These two alone were for returning the power to Congress as designated by the Constitution, and where it was before giving in to the bankers. Rick Santorum wanted the bankers to remain in control but spoke of returning to “an earlier version” of how it was run. Rick Perry was the most dubious on the subject calling it “treason” if “you are allowing the Federal Reserve to be used for political purposes…” but he was not for eliminating it. Mitt Romney made the strongest case for leaving it with the bankers, as “Congress cannot possibly do it.” It is very unlikely that we will get back to the Constitution on this issue from anyone other than Bachmann or Paul.

There were no specific questions on getting back to the Constitution itself. Bachmann used the word constitution twice as much as did anyone else with Paul second and Perry third. Most made no mention of such a need. Perry, however, had clarity on the 10th Amendment and spoke of it as state’s rights yet, as governor, he had no problem forcing, by executive order, the inoculation of young girls 12 years and older with a vaccine against cervical cancer without any attempt to go through the state legislature for approval. He now admits that it was wrong to do so without legislative authorization. Bachmann denied even state government the right to force such action with or without legislative approval.

All seemed opposed to Obamacare but only Bachmann on clear constitutional grounds. “No state has the constitutional right to force a person, as a condition of citizenship, to buy a product or service against their will. It’s unconstitutional whether it’s the state government (referring to Romneycare in Massachusetts) or whether the federal government. The only way to eradicate Obamacare is to pull it out by the root and branch, to fully repeal it…! Because 2012 is it!!!” She added amid great applause, “This is the election that is going to decide if we have socialized medicine or not!!” Romney and Newt Gingrich would end the “threat” by executive order exempting every state, which itself is a constitutionally questionable solution as executive orders are not to be legislative in nature. Bachmann reminded them that the president after them could again, by executive order, restore the unpopular legislation. Romney’s only reference to something being unconstitutional was with respect to Obamacare but he quickly followed that he “favored a health savings account,” which ironically, on the federal level is just as unconstitutional.

On illegal immigration none of them were convincing that they would end it. Perry, with the most practical real life experience with the issue, seemed willing to “put boots on the ground” as president because Constitutionally it was the federal governments first responsibility to protect its people but he as governor encouraged illegal immigration with tax-payer money to illegals for college expenses. Jon Huntsman gave driving permits to illegals in Utah. Romney and Bachmann opposed any money going to “those who broke the law” but neither stated constitutional reasons. Paul was not given opportunity to respond on this question nor was Herman Cain.

On the basis of the Tea Party Presidential Debate, which was to emphasize constitutional themes in dealing with the realities of our time, Bachmann and Paul were the clear winners with Perry a distant, but dubious third; Bachmann even promising to return the Constitution to the White House as her last comment. I could detect no reason to believe that the other five candidates for president would be any better than George W. Bush in getting us back to this document or even seriously reigning in the Federal Reserve. It is your liberty. Pass this along.

Dr. Harold Pease is an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit