Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Who Should Own The Tea Parties?

According to WaPo today, the TV ad shows red coats with guns about to shoot down colonial revolutionaries, when, a Dodge Challenger roars out of the woods with an American flag on it, driven by George Washington, who vanquishes the red coats and then steps out to declare "Here's a couple of things America got right: cars -- and freedom." When I watched the July 4th parade in Harrisonburg, by far the largest contingent were members of the Shenandoah Valley Tea Party handing out pamphlets supporting tax cuts and smaller government, the pamphlets very slick and showing funding support from the Heritage Foundation and various other conservative entities. A friend who was in the parade supporting a local Democratic candidate emailed friends about feeling threatened by gun-toting people in the parade, particular the Tea Partiers.

So, it has been taken for granted that the political Right owns the Tea Parties. After all, the original tea party was to protest a tax on tea, right? Not so simple, actually. The original slogan was "No taxation without representation," not "no taxation." It was pro-democracy, not anti-tax or anti-government. And all the taxes we have have been instituted by democratically elected Congresses and legislatures and city or county councils or boards of supervisors. There are many progressive aspects of the American Revolution, not just arguments for going back to the late nineteenth century. Tea partiers cite the 10th amendment to argue that the federal government should not be regulating the environment or providing social security or health insurance, ignoring that the Constitution calls for support of the general welfare.

Another aspect often ignored by the Tea Partiers is the relative social liberalism of many of the Founding Fathers on many issues (although not on slavery or attitudes towards the Indians or women). These men were deists who believed in the separation of church and state. The claims that the US is a "Christian nation" were refuted by even the most religious of them, John Adams, as president in our treaty with the Barbary States in 1798. Franklin and Washington were Masons before their official religions (and Franklin did not have one at all). When they attended the Episcopal churches to which they belonged, neither Washington nor Jefferson took communion, and Jefferson declared a favoritism for Unitarianism, which John Adams was a card carrying member of at his death, while Washington had a Masonic funeral. It is perhaps ironic that some of these folks are aware of these attitudes, as the recent effort by the Texas School Board to remove the teaching of Jefferson as an important political figure for his support of separation of church and state shows.

In any case, I think that progressives need to claim, or perhaps re-claim, their heritage in the American Revolution and not let it be taken over by this collection of hypocrites and lunatics.


pigglyroast said...

The tax burden on the colonies before the revolution was absurdly low. It's unreasonable to think the leaders of the revolution's true gripe was that they didn't have a couple of seats in commons that would've made no difference in the long run, but rather that it was a convenient talking point.

Jack said...

Complaints about taxation have been a thorn in our sides since this country's earliest time. In general, a gross generality no doubt, business people and the wealthy have resisted and complained about having to support their government financially. As though fighting off the British crown was free of cost. Interestingly the earliest well known examples of tax complaint were those of "poor farmers" in the incident of Shay's Rebellion and small businessmen, distillers,
in the case of the Whiskey Rebellion. Both groups claimed an unfair burden from the taxes imposed and that may very well have been true. The fairness issue being a relative concept.

That differs significantly from our TeaBagger friends. Their ignorance of the subtlties of our nation's history is only matched by their ignorance of the issues of taxation and the budget deficit.
They are easily manipulated by the wealthy as the organization's dependence on Heritage Foundation financial support signifies. The Coors family, the Scaifes and other less known, but equally wealthy individuals, are the financial basis of the Heritage Foundation. And think tank is a gross distortion of their mission.
Manipulation of popular opinion is their goal and they've been very successful at that. The dismal state of public education in this country over the past several decades, especially at the working class level, is part of their self fulfilling prophecy.

TheTrucker said...

Hear, hear, Jack

The Rightards know where to attack the system. They know that the majority never attend a university. If you're going to influence a democracy then you make sure that the majority is informed as you want. I have commented on this many times before and will continue to do so.

We _MUST_ take our K12 system back from the liars or there won't ever be progress in this country. Instead of showing off marvelous intellect and messing with improving models, we need to be doing what we can to improve the education of the MAJORITY. And the MAJORITY just does not eat calculus.

The Austrians win as much as the do because they present arguments that normal people can understand. They base most of their stuff on false assumptions, but once they have you in the net it is hell to get out. I was a Libertarian until age 35.

Jack said...

Substantive improvement of grade school education, up through high school, is first and foremost in protecting democracy. and none of what passes for educational reform is headed in the right direction. There is no mystery as to why upper middle class, or better, localities have better results. They spend the amount necessary to the task. Look at the differences between upper-middle class community school funding and that of more modest communities. There is the difference. Yes, the upper-middle class also has the benefit of a more educationally focused home environment. That gives such a child a head start, but no government program (remember Head Start) is likely to be as effective as the home environment and certainly none is as economically viable. In a nut shell, read to your little kids and fund their schools adequately.

The reliance on Charter Schools is just so much BS. Sure, skim off the cream of any community school system and you'll show improved performance of your educational effort. That used to take place in public school systems, but tracking, as it was called, became frowned upon as undemocratic. No body seems to think that inadequate funding of an entire school system is undemocratic.

Part II:
Better education is useless without a free press. A press that is free of corporate control.
A media system that is free of corporate control is essential to a democracy. The press in a democracy is supposed to be the Fourth Estate. The modern day press and general media functions much like a Fifth Column. Goebbels could not do as effective a job as does our current media executive cadre.