At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

Dear Tea Partier,

These are indeed exciting times.  Not much more than two-and-a-half years ago, the movement to which you have given life was nonexistent.  Since its birth, you have succeeded in arresting the attention of the entire country while acquiring a well deserved reputation for being the most formidable grassroots entity in contemporary politics.  At this juncture, at any rate, everyone—Republicans and Democrats; conservatives, libertarians, and “liberals”; “independents” and “moderates”; rightists and leftists—knows that you are a force with which they will have to reckon.

In the summer of 2009, you bombarded the establishment with shock and awe with your “town hall meetings” and massive demonstrations.  Considering the ecstatic reception with which Barack Obama’s substantial victory over John McCain was greeted by over half ofAmerica, no one, least of all the president and his fellow partisans in congress, could have had any inkling that they would have to contend with such relentless opposition to his gargantuan socialistic schemes.  

Unfortunately, there simply were not enough office holders in congress to block the passage of Obamacare and other pieces of the Democrats’ redistributive plans.  Yet refusing to be disheartened, you availed yourselves of the momentum accumulated by your earlier efforts to resist the Leviathan that your elected representatives sought to impose upon you: on Election Day 2010, in exchange for their pledge to repeal Obamacare and revoke much of the Democrats’ agenda, you succeeded in affecting a historically unprecedented victory for Republicans.

Many Americans have loudly and passionately articulated their concern for the well being of their country.  To your eternal credit, you distinguish yourself from them inasmuch as you have seen to it that your passion does not degenerate into zealotry. To this end, you have insured that the greatness of your love for country be matched only by the greatness of your civility toward your opponents.  In so doing, you have supplied an emblem of fine citizenship for all to witness.

However, your virtues promise to bring out the worst of vices in your foes.  Of this, I am sure, you are well aware.  But you may not always be so well aware of who these foes are. 

The Democrats, clearly, are your adversaries.  They despise you and everything for which you stand.  Given the many attempts on the life of your character that they have been making for as long as you have existed, you know that this isn’t mere hyperbole on my part.  They have charged you with being an “extremist,” an “anarchist,” and even a “terrorist”—a description that they refuse to apply to Islamic fundamentalists who routinely murder innocent men, women, and children (including Americans).  Yet as bad as it is to be accused of “terrorism,” even this epithet doesn’t compare with the charge of “racism” that they have made against you.  This is the most dangerous of contemporary slurs, the nuclear bomb of all ad hominem attacks.

I would like to make a suggestion as to how you might consider going about meeting this accusation in the future—for you know that it will be made ever more as we enter into the next election cycle.  Point out the obvious: if the Tea Party movement is “racist” because it consists mostly of whites, then the “movement” that brought about the composition of the Declaration of Independence and the ratification of the Constitution must also be “racist” because it consisted exclusively of whites.  Granted, academic leftists—or, what amounts to the same thing, academic Democrats—already believe that the founding of America was incorrigibly “racist”; but mainstream Democrats in Washington and the media are too fearful of saying such things aloud.  Push them on this.  While I can’t see them forgoing their weapon of choice, the “r” word, altogether, they just might be more reluctant to use it if they know that it will lead to the exposure of their real views ofAmerica’s origins and its founders.

The real danger to you, though, doesn’t come from the Democrats, for they are wolves for all to see. Much more perilous to your well being are those wolves wearing sheep’s clothing.  Of course, I refer to those Republicans who are as much obsessed with enlarging the federal government as are any Democrats, but who realize that lest they lose your support, they must conceal their true designs.

Guard yourself vigilantly against the manipulative machinations of Republicans who would have you think that they genuinely believe their own rhetoric of “limited government.”  Sadly, this means that you must guard yourself against most Republicans, both career politicians as well as, I hate to say it, their supporters in the so-called “conservative” media.  You have every reason to be skeptical regarding their sincerity.

For one, these Republicans are painfully cognizant of the fact that if you choose to erect a third party rather than seek your goals by revamping theirs, then you will all but guarantee that the GOP forever remains the minority in power.  That is, you know that these Republicans need you. 

Second, even as I write this, an opinion piece appears on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal recounting George W. Bush’s fiscal recklessness—a phenomenon on which far too many of his supporters remain, to this day, deafeningly silent.  Our last Republican president did indeed contribute to an exponential expansion of the federal government by way of his foreign and domestic policies alike.  And all along, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and their colleagues not only lent him their enthusiastic support; they were particularly friendly with his administration.

Today, though, in spite of having singularly failed to specify any of their prior mistakes in these regards, these same Republicans claim to share your objectives.  Maybe they really have, at long last, realized the need to reconcile their rhetoric of “limited government” with the kinds of policies that they endorse. Or maybe, as I have already suggested, they just know that they need you if they are to prevent their party from disintegrating.

So that you may get a better idea as to their intentions, consider posing to them questions of the following sort:

Was George W. Bush a proponent of “limited government?”  If you believe that he was, please explain how this could be?  If you acknowledge that he was not a real champion of “limited government” or, in other words, conservatism, then why did you insist upon supporting him so staunchly?

How is the declaration of “war” on an abstraction like “terror,” the democratization of the Islamic world of which this war consists, and the ever expanding military necessary to wage it compatible with “limited government?” 

As even leftist television personality Jon Stewart recently observed, Congressman Ron Paul is the only “ideologically consistent” GOP presidential candidate, the only politician in both national parties to consistently conduct himself in accordance with the Republican Party’s stated theme of “limited government.”  Paul virtually tied Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for first place in the Iowa Ames Straw poll (the latter beat him by but 200 something votes), engages in fundraising with a prowess comparable to that of multi-millionaire Mitt Romney, invariably provokes explosive applause in the primary debates, and appeals to those much sought after voters, “independents” and “moderates.”  Yet when he isn’t being ridiculed by them, both “mainstream” and “conservative” media personalities ignore him.

Even if you do not think that Paul is electable for cosmetic reasons—age, style, image, etc.—why, you may want to ask Republicans, do you persist in treating this full throated champion of “limited government” with such disrespect?  Do you not really believe in “limited government” yourself?

These questions are not intended to be exhaustive, obviously.  But those Republicans who are now suddenly Tea Partiers need to have questions of this kind put to them.

Keep up the good work.  Do not relent.


Jack Kerwick  


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