GOP Rep: Obama Has Upheld Soviet Constitution

The secret truth even Glenn Beck hasn't uncovered. Photo: Photos: Rob Carr/Getty Images, fStop/Corbis, iStockphoto

Paul Broun is one of the more radical members of the House Republican Caucus, which — like calling Richie Aprile one of the less ethical members of the Soprano family — is a highly superlative description. Broun, as you might expect, is a staunch, staunch Constitutional Conservative:

The Constitution I uphold and defend is the one I carry in my pocket all the time, the U.S. Constitution. I don’t know what Constitution that other members of Congress uphold, but it’s not this one. I think the only Constitution that Barack Obama upholds is the Soviet constitution, not this one.

The accusation that Obama fails to uphold the Constitution is pretty old hat by now. Far more novel and interesting is Broun’s claim that Obama has upheld the Soviet Constitution.

Has he? It actually depends on which Soviet Constitution you mean. The most commonly cited one is a 1936 Constitution crafted under Stalin, primarily for propaganda purposes. The main problem with this constitution is not its provisions but the fact that the Soviets flagrantly violated it. Most of that document is given over to liberal rights like freedom of speech, freedom of privacy, and the basic rights enjoyed by democracies. It was so unobjectionable that it earned the praise of none other than Ronald Reagan:

I had a copy of the Soviet Constitution and I read it with great interest. And I saw all kinds of terms in there that sound just exactly like our own: 'Freedom of assembly' and 'freedom of speech' and so forth. Of course, they don't allow them to have those things, but they're in there in the constitution.

So upholding that Constitution, per Reagan himself, would be a good thing, though we don’t want to make Broun’s head explode. There are crucial differences. The 1936 document prominently guaranteed all citizens “the right to employment” — a provision Obama has obviously failed to uphold. (Granted, all presidents have likewise failed, but one might argue that Obama, who has overseen a record decrease in government employment, has violated it more flagrantly than previous presidents.)

The really radical stuff is contained in the original, 1918 version of the Soviet Constitution, which was more of a “when Bolshevik revolutionaries stop being polite and start getting real” document. I think even Broun would admit that Obama has not (yet) fulfilled the terms of this document, which abolishes private property, and “deprives all individuals and groups of rights which could be utilized by them to the detriment of the socialist revolution.”

However, Broun might be interested to learn that the 1918 Soviet Constitution embraces many concepts not in the American version, but that he might find appealing. It declares, "He shall not eat who does not work,” a line repeated almost verbatim by Michele Bachmann. It likewise called for “abrogating secret treaties,” which might win over right-wingers who oppose treaties of all kinds, and also, in the domestic sphere, prevailed upon John Boehner to halt secret negotiations with Obama. Most intriguing, the Soviet Constitution went beyond mere protection of the right to bear arms, proclaiming, “it is decreed that all workers be armed.”

So if Broun is technically wrong that Obama has upheld the Soviet Constitution, he is correct in a larger sense: Obama only differs from the Soviet Constitution because he is too liberal.