The Tea Party Has Always Existed

Obama's Plan: White SlaveryCaptain Fogg over at Human Voices wrote a very compelling contrast between the way the far right treats Obama versus how they treated Kennedy, Remembering the Hero. Even though today Kennedy has an approval rating that tops 90%, while he was in office, he received the same kind over-the-top rhetoric about how he was discarding the Constitution and how he was a traitor.

Let me take it a bit further. Basically, since at least World War II, there has always been about 20% of the population that thinks that the commies are taking control of the nation. That’s not just me, that’s the conclusion of Change They Can’t Believe In.

Ever since 2009, I’ve been amused and outraged that the Tea Party is treated as some legitimate political movement. The mainstream press just loved the idea of middle class people finally organizing. But that’s not what was happening at all! These were the McCarthyites who knew that 81 communists worked in the State Department. These were the Birchers who ranted about the communist plot of water fluoridation[1] in 1960. And of course, these were the people with the “treason” signs on the parade route in Dallas.

I think our country would be a good deal better off if we knew more about John Wilkes Booth. He wasn’t crazy. It was just that in the circles he ran, it was a given that Lincoln was a tyrant. In his mind, he was Brutus in Julius Caesar—not an assassin but a hero of the people.

No one thinks themselves greater patriots than the Tea Party. But they aren’t patriots to the United States. They are patriots to some kind of vague notion of what they think America once was. And most sadly, that usually means an America where only whites had power.

I don’t think most of these people really wanted armed revolt and political assassination. But Captain Fogg is right that these people are sowing it. But whenever there is a tragedy that they helped create—whether it is Dallas or Oklahoma City—they slink away. For a while. When they come back, they don’t slink. They stride proudly back with their signs, “Obama’s Plan: White Slavery!”

[1] This scene from Dr. Strangelove seems like an exaggeration but it isn’t:

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “The Tea Party Has Always Existed

  1. There is a long history of this. The original Tea Party had a large contingent of smugglers, upset that England had removed the import tax on tea to benefit the East India company (whose tea was being undersold by smugglers.) Hence, they were pro-tax and anti-corporate. The others who joined in were, "hey, freedom!"

    And "hey. freedom!" was a lot of the Revolution in general. America really had it pretty good as a British colony; it wasn’t exploited for slave labor (well, not the white people), it was barely taxed at all, and England paid for the costs of killing Indians. Those soldiers who fought in the revolutionary war because "hey, freedom" soon found that "freedom" didn’t mean an equal access to property or political voice. Such things were, of course, for the rich people.

    On and on. Manifest Destiny, where killing Indians (and Mexicans and Cubans and Filipinos) was defined in very lofty terms as "hey, freedom!" Any attempts to rein in capitalism run amok (the robber barons) were assaults on Our Cherished Values, and so forth.

    "America" has always been a pretty vague notion. I used to like doing a little thought experiment with kids in online college courses. Say some ozone hole has emerged over North America, we all have to leave, and other nations have graciously offered asylum and start-up money to every emigrant. Where would you go, and what would you miss most?

    The standard response was "I wouldn’t like it anywhere else, I’d miss freedom." (From American-born students; foreign-born ones picked other countries that accept immigrants from war-torn regions.) Never any definition of what "freedom" meant, or how we have it and other places don’t. Just a vague notion that we do have it, because we’re taught from first grade that we do. As, I suspect, kids in the USSR were taught that they lived in the world’s only worker’s paradise.

    (For me? I’d pick Scandinavia, good labor rights there, and I’d miss the scenery, as I do every day living in Minnesota, the flattest, most visually boring place imaginable. I’d also miss baseball. It’s dumb, but very soothing to listen to on radio during sleepy summer afternoons . . .)

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