The Bundy Boys Want to Take Us Back to the Articles of Confederation

The armed right-wing militia members who are occupying the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge out in Oregon say they believe in and want to defend the Constitution.

That’s pretty standard right-wing militia-type rhetoric, but the ironic thing is people like Ammon Bundy don’t actually believe in or care about the Constitution.

They say they do, and can probably quote a few of its most obscure sections to “prove” that the federal government is evil, but when it comes right down to it, they’re a lot more like the people that opposed the Constitution than the people who wrote it.

Yesterday, Twitter user BillMon1 explained why this is in a brilliant series of tweets.

He wrote, “Funny thing about Bundy types & their pocket Constitutions: They're in ideological tradition of those who OPPOSED it -- Anti-Federalists Fears of a tyrannical central government, exaggerated claims of state sovereignty, localism and suspicion of elite conspiracies are all arguments and emotions that were used to agitate against ratification of the document Cliven Bundy claims to hold so dear.”

But the irony doesn’t stop there.

The Bundy types aren’t just opposed to the spirit of the Constitution; they’re opposed to what it actually says, too.

They don’t want the federal government owning land in the West, but at the time of ratification, one of the major selling points of the Constitution was the fact that it did just that: it put the feds in charge of public land.

And what’s more, as BillMon points out, the Constitution specifically gives the government the power to regulate the lands it manages on behalf of the We the People.

Right there in Article 4, Section 3 it says that "Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting Territory or other Property belonging to US."

In other words, the government owning and protecting a patch of land in the west isn’t tyranny; it’s quite literally what this republic was founded on.

So sorry Bundy boys, if you don’t like this country or its founding values, I respectfully invite you to leave it. If you want a conservative theocracy, I understand ISIL is building one in Syria right now.

But here, we rather like our Constitution, so either learn to deal with it or get packing.

There’s also a bigger picture issue here that goes beyond Ammon Bundy, the militias, and their really bizarre interpretation of the Constitution.

And that’s the whole debate over who should control the commons.

The Bundys and their militia friends might look and sound extreme, but the basic argument driving their occupation -- that private forces, not the We the People and our elected government should control the commons -- is about as Republican as it gets.

It’s the same argument Tea Partiers make when they rant against single-payer healthcare; it’s the same argument that Republicans make when they scream “socialism” at people who want to make college free for all; it’s the same argument that cable industry shills make when they oppose municipal broadband; and so on and so on.

But the thing is, public ownership of the commons is about as American as it gets, and there’s no better proof of this than the Constitution giving the federal government (and thus We the People) control over public lands including those out West.

In other words, what we’re seeing out in Oregon right now isn’t just a fight over federal land; it’s also fight over the fundamental meaning of the Constitution, and Ammon Bundy and his friends are on the wrong side of that fight.

Let’s hope they learn the error of their ways before anyone gets killed.


Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 7 years 11 weeks ago

Is there any doubt that guns will be involved?

Using guns is how americans get it off


sacredori's picture
sacredori 7 years 11 weeks ago

It's also ironic that they they want to give the land back to it's rightfully owners, when the former owners were native americans, literally.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 11 weeks ago

During the time period of the Articles of Confederation the United States had a population of about 2.5 million people. Today we have a diverse population of about 321 million.

Vulnerable citizens the Bundy boys think even with a population that large we can still shrink the federal government down to a size where we can murder what's left of it in a bathtub.

The Bundys think like that in large part because a few wealthy Fascists, by manipulating the corpse media, foxmerized and turned them into fools who vote against their own best interests. Of course Fascists like the Kochs promote and want a fractitious and weak central government because with that comes totally unregulated capitalism.

Malcontents like the Bundys would be slashing their wrists if they had to survive in a post modern feudal economy under the full control of Fascists like the Kochs. If you believe you'd be better of with guys like this in charge of our environment and economy then you're a god damn fool who doesn't deserve to be a United States citizen.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 11 weeks ago

Reply to #3: Bravo, 10K. Especially that last paragraph.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 7 years 11 weeks ago

Sink the Privatization Pirate Ship!

Jussmartenuf's picture
Jussmartenuf 7 years 11 weeks ago

This is a real simple deal. A bunch of local Republicans want to acquire the public property that belongs to you and me simply because they live closer to it than we do. States at one time were offered federal lands but the responsibility of care went with it and they did not want that expense. Now these radical locals think they can get our property from us if they put up a show of force and have other uninformed radicals rally to their cause. Ain't gonna happen. Slam them in the slammer or we will just have to put up with this anarchy again.

RLTOWNSLEY's picture
RLTOWNSLEY 7 years 11 weeks ago

A battle instigated by Bureaucrats in the Bureau of Land Management and Environmentalist fighting a challenge to their assumed unquestionable and irrefutable power. If these people had been members of a large voting block, the federal government would have backed off immediately ! After over two hundred years we are still trying to get the Constitution to a point where the rights of minorities are given equal weight ! The reason why Black Americans are still rioting in the streets fifty years after the passage of so-called solid Equal Rights legislation by a Democrat Administration !

Chiennoir's picture
Chiennoir 7 years 11 weeks ago

"Malcontents like the Bundys would be slashing their wrists if they had to survive in a post modern feudal economy under the full control of Fascists like the Kochs. If you believe you'd be better of with guys like this in charge of our environment and economy then you're a god damn fool who doesn't deserve to be a United States citizen."

Absolutely agree. People like the Bundys wave their guns and demand what they want when they want it -- claim they'll be willing to fight to the death for it -- and blame the "liberals" or "big government" when they don't get it.

The thing is, they really don't know enough about the way government works to know what they want. The right-wing corporate control machine wants its followers to be belligerent, outraged and uneducated, and will do everything they can to keep them that way. It's the best way to ensure that they will continue to vote against their own self-interest.

Keith Weborg Sr.'s picture
Keith Weborg Sr. 7 years 11 weeks ago

Thom, I have been thinking about all the VITROL being spewed by the entire republican mob, fox so called news and selective hate corporate radio, TV and new papers; this is more than likely what is causing all the madness in our country (by madness, I mean the killings and Bundy Boys Crap). What triggered this thought was a visit yesterday by an acquaintance and so called friend and on the subject of Obama and guns he tacitly alluded to how important his guns are to him. He is a typical Bible Belt fringe area yahoo who I (retired military) told that these militias wouldn;t last 3 seconds agains an armed military assault. Keith

JB93's picture
JB93 7 years 11 weeks ago

Yes, Thom, you are correct, but several of our founding fathers (and many other concerned citizens) were concerned about and/or opposed to the centralization of government. In fact, that's exactly why they lobbied for the 2nd amendment. Additionally, prior to the constitution, land was turned over to the states, from what I understand. Many citizens, and I believe some of the founding fathers, were opposed to the federal government owning land, other than what was necessary for federal needs. They preferred the land to be owned and controlled by the states, as it was previously, before the US Constitution.

Here is a good article regarding federal government land ownership:

Regarding the Bundys and others protesting in Oregon, I like Ron Paul's view, since it's more in agreement with some of the founding fathers and other concerned citizens who opposed the federal government owning more land than needed for federal purposes. The way Ron Paul explains it: "Forget the media circus: The mess in Oregon is largely caused by a bullying Federal government and obscene mandatory minimum laws, where a minor offense like accidentally burning a bit of government land is punished like it was a terrorist act. The Feds should relinquish ownership of the massive amount of US land and stop hassling ranchers."

And, here is another article which shows how the federal government has abused it's power and authority:

The framers of our constitution had this view: "At the first session of Congress in March 1789, the Second Amendment was submitted as a counterweight to the federal powers of Congress and the president. According to constitutional theorists, the Framers who feared a central government extracted the amendment as a compromise from those in favor of centralized authority over the states. The Revolutionary War had, after all, been fought in large part by a citizen army against the standing armies of England."


tomcalwriter1's picture
tomcalwriter1 7 years 11 weeks ago

I see all the liberals are ganging up on these guys. But wasn't the original motivation for this the injustice of sending those ranchers back to jail? It seems to have gotten lost in the ideological debate that the pundits are battling over. The thing is if you review the case you will see those ranchers may actually have been unjustly dealt with. At least from what I've read. The second arson count actually was brought against an action which was done to preserve their own property that abutted federal land -- to prevent a fire that had started there from moving into their grazing land. I think the original judge felt the mandatory sentence was too harsh. But the federal government went in and enforced the mandatory sentence. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think talking about ideology obscures the actual situation.

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