The so-called Tea Party “Patriots” are fond of comparing themselves to the Founding Fathers in order to promote their self-serving, narrow-minded philosophy. Indeed, they named themselves after those courageous souls who dared to stand up to the British at places such as Boston Harbor, Lexington and Concord.
Yet today’s teabaggers couldn’t be more different from the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.
The Founding Fathers were committed to education, to science and reason. By contrast, the Tea Party is committed to superstition, faith and brutish behavior. The Tea Party believes in slashing funding for education. Its followers dismiss science, and they consider those who are well-educated to be anti-American elitists.
According to Jon Meacham’s wonderful biography Thomas Jefferson, The Art of Power, Jefferson was an avid student of history and philosophy. He believed that “…reason, not revelation or unquestioned tradition or superstition, deserved pride of place in human affairs.”
Tea Party adherents, on the other hand, reject reason and cling to an inaccurate version of history in order to make our nation fit their narrow-minded ideology. An ideology based on the Articles of Confederation rather than the Constitution which replaced them, and on a plutocratic interpretation of Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations that seems to reject government intervention in the free market. Yet many scholars reject that interpretation, pointing to the fact that, time and again, Smith warned of the dangers of businesses forming cabals and monopolies in order to fix the highest price “which can be squeezed out of the buyers.”
In order to realize the best possible future for our nation, who are we to follow? George Washington or Eric Cantor? Benjamin Franklin or Sarah Palin? Thomas Jefferson or Michele Bachmann?