Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Tea Party's False Claim to History

It is high time to challenge the Tea Party and knock it off its self-erected pedestal as “apostles” of our Founding Fathers. The assumption that the Party is the voice of our Founders, that their beliefs are consistent with the Founders, and that we as a nation need to behave as if “the Founders would have us behave” is one of the great lies of our day. From the belief that the Constitution and Declaration were at their core religious in tone to the belief that we must be guided by the Constitution’s “original intent,” the Tea Party demonstrates absolutely no understanding of history. Shame on their history teachers, for they clearly did not learn much on those days in class.

The late 18th Century was part of what we refer to as the Age of Reason or Enlightenment. It was a time of great scientific and philosophical thought. The salons of Europe were replicated here in the colonies, as the learned people of the day sought to digest the lessons of the Reformation and the horrific wars of religion and class that swept up the Continent.

The point is this: The Constitution was a scientific document, not a religious document. The Founders were by and large deists, seeing G-d through the lens of science. G-d was justified by reason, not faith. The Constitution was our Founders attempt to create government through reason; republicanism and democracy were the product of “political science.” Here is the important point. As the product of scientific reasoning, it was understood by our Founding Fathers, great men like Jefferson, Franklin, and Madison, that knowledge of science and of the world was never static, never complete. Jefferson for example understood that they possessed imperfect knowledge, and that it was perfectly reasonable to expect thoughts on governance to grow and change.

Our Founders would be aghast at people like those in the Tea Party who thought that they created the “perfect” document, that they knew all there was to know about government, and that people in 2012 should be governed solely by the thinking of those who lived in the late 1700’s. It is time for the Tea Party to be challenged, to be exposed for the “posers” that they are, hiding behind “original intent” as a way of justifying their narrow, angry, anti-social, and oftentimes downright racist views. The last election was a punch to the gut of the Tea Party. It is time for a knock out punch.


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