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The Tea Party wants to repeal 226 years of American history

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Joseph J. Ellis, the greatest living chronicler of early American history, SAYS the Tea Party movement seems bent on restoring the Articles of Confederation, the dysfunctional system our Founding Fathers replaced with the Constitution:

Clearly, most of the tea party radicals in the House of Representatives come from gerrymandered districts, which function as cocoons that resist penetration by alien ideas, like Keynesian economics, Darwinian evolution, global warming and yes, the potential popularity of Obamacare. They live in a parallel universe in which a rejection of any robust expression of government power is an unquestioned and unexamined article of faith.

Where does this irrational but obviously deep-felt impulse come from? Talk radio and Fox News obviously feed the beast. But the seminal convictions of the tea partiers defy any modern conceptions of government power. How far back in history do they want to take us?

My initial impression was that they wanted to repeal the 20th century. Radical Republicans of the tea party persuasion object to all federal programs that have an impact on our daily lives, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the Federal Reserve Board. Even though tea partiers, like all the rest of us, are beneficiaries of these federal programs, especially Medicare and Social Security, ideology trumps self-interest in their worldview, though one wonders how they would respond if they had their way and their Social Security checks stopped coming.

Now, I believe these radicals want to go even further back in time. Though it wouldn’t be fair to pin a defense of slavery on them, they agree with the states’ rights agenda of the Confederacy and resist the right of the federal government to make domestic policy, which is their visceral reason for loathing Obamacare.

But their ultimate destination, I believe, is the 1780s and our dysfunctional government under the Articles of Confederation. The states were sovereign in that post-revolutionary arrangement, and the federal government was virtually powerless. That is political paradise for the tea partiers, who might take comfort in the fact that their 18th century counterparts also refused to fund the national debt. Their core convictions are pre-Great Society, pre-New Deal, pre-Keynes, pre-Freud, pre-Darwin and pre-Constitution.

This is nostalgia on steroids, and an utter absurdity, defying more than 200 years of American history. But this, I believe, is where radical Republicans are really coming from. It makes comprehensible their deep disregard for the destructive consequences of their anti-government policies, for they truly believe that government is “them,” not “us.”

The heartening news is that their like-minded predecessors over the last two centuries have lost every major battle, starting with the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 and ending with the congressional vote and the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare.

The historical pattern is perfectly clear. They are going to lose again because they are running against the main currents of history. But along the way they are making all the rest of us pay a heavy price for their delusional agenda. And they really don’t care.

Dysfunction this deep strikes me as a new low in American history. This is not what the founders had in mind.

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1 Comment

  1. 226 years is a big exaggeration. The past 50 years is more accurate. Brit Hume’s analysis is spot on:

    “Veteran political observers on both the left and right are still trying to figure out what the House Tea Party caucus and its Senate pied piper Ted Cruz were thinking when they insisted on using the threat of a government shutdown to defund ObamaCare.

    It was a hopeless strategy that has not only failed in its stated goal, but helped send the Republican Party to its lowest favorability ratings ever.

    In conventional terms, it seems inexplicable, but Senator Cruz and his adherents do not view things in conventional terms. They look back over the past half-century, including the supposedly golden era of Ronald Reagan, and see the uninterrupted forward march of the American left. Entitlement spending never stopped growing. The regulatory state continued to expand. The national debt grew and grew and finally in the Obama years, exploded. They see an American population becoming unrecognizable from the free and self-reliant people they thought they knew. And they see the Republican Party as having utterly failed to stop the drift toward an unfree nation supervised by an overweening and bloated bureaucracy. They are not interested in Republican policies that merely slow the growth of this leviathan. They want to stop it and reverse it. And they want to show their supporters they’ll try anything to bring that about.

    And if some of those things turn out to be reckless and doomed, well so be it.”

    http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/special-report-bret-baier/2013/10/14/what-tea-party-really-trying-get-out-slimdown

    It’s a shame the Tea Party brings such a side-show attraction along with it. It’s core message is worthy of attention and it is not something the leftist media doesn’t want you to hear.

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