Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Modern Tea Party: An Error of Historical Analogy

Over the last several years I have often marveled at the lack of knowledge and understanding of history that is afoot among self proclaimed patriots dressed in 18th Century costumes claiming to be the rightful heirs to the Founding Fathers of this country.

The original Tea Party was held in Boston Harbor in protest of a tax on tea imported from England. The battle cry was “No Taxation Without Representation”. Parliament in Great Britain unilaterally passed the tax to be levied on colonists living in the American colonies in order to mitigate the costs of a British army sent to America to defend the colonies from the French during the French and Indian War. The British colonists in America resented the tax on the grounds that it was imposed on them while they had no elected representatives in Parliament. They were simply not allowed to vote.

In it’s current incarnation, the Tea Party has currently had all the representation they voted for. “No Taxation Without Representation” does not apply.

As for being the legitimate heirs to the Founding Fathers, they forget that it was the Founding Fathers who drew up a Constitution that established a relatively strong Federal government while reserving some rights for the states (and through the Bill of Rights; the first ten amendments to that Constitution) protected citizens from the power of the central government as well as from the powers of the various states.

In my opinion, the modern Tea Party has little in common with the original Tea Party nor do they have any understanding of what the Founding Fathers intended. However, I do believe that there is a more accurate historical analogy that could be applied.

The current Tea Party is opposed to the duly elected government of the United States. John Wilkes Booth was also opposed to the duly elected government of the United States. The Tea Party of today are strong advocates of states rights, the primary motivation of the Confederacy during the American civil war. John Wilkes Booth, as a strong southern sympathizer, also believed that states rights were more important than a central government. The modern Tea Party believes secession is a valid option for a state within the Union. John Wilkes Booth shared that opinion. There is ample evidence that today’s Tea Party are, at the very least, latent racists. In his strong support of slavery of black people in the south, John Wilkes Booth was a blatant racist. Today’s Tea Party believe it is appropriate to resort to Second Amendment remedies if they don’t get their way in legislation. Again, John Wilkes Booth shared that opinion and took his case to the logical conclusion.

Making the case that today’s Tea Party is somehow related to the original Boston Tea Party patriots and the Founding Fathers is a stretch and requires too many qualifiers. Making the case that the modern Tea Party is more analogous to John Wilkes Booth and his band of conspirators that assassinated Abraham Lincoln at the end of the American Civil War requires far less in terms of intellectual gymnastics.


Bob Miller said...

They have a lot in common with the "Know Nothing Party" too.

Anonymous said...

Any news about A defector's strange disappearance?