Tea Party Wants to Take America Back to the Eighteenth Century

tags: Tea Party



Joseph J. Ellis is the author of Founding Brothers and, most recently, Revolutionary Summer.

When matters become extremely dire and disheartening, as they have been in the blatantly dysfunctional Congress, historians are usually the designated dispensers of perspective. As bad as things are, we like to say, they have been worse and the nation somehow survived.

But for the life of me, I cannot recall an occasion when a minority of elected representatives with such an absurdly partisan agenda was capable of stopping the government of the United States in its tracks. To be sure, stoppages have happened before, but not with a looming debt ceiling decision, which has threatened to throw the American economy back into recession, send the global financial markets into free fall and permanently damage America's fiscal reputation. Such mindless political and economic devastation is unprecedented.

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?...



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