Saturday, June 12, 2010

Has the Tea Party Been Hijacked? Or Did They Shoot Themselves in the Foot?

Aaron J. Biterman of the Republican Liberty Caucus has an excellent blog on the evolution of the Tea Party movement from a group that originated to support Ron Paul to a group that sponsored candidates who ran in opposition to Ron Paul. (Disclaimer: I also blog on the RLC site with Aaron.)  As someone who has been involved in my local (Kingston, New York) tea party and who attempted to help organize one in my small town of Olive (about one half hour outside Kingston) I would argue this:

1. The Tea Party members are generally inexperienced in politics.  They are learning how to organize.  The left is way ahead of them.  The learning curve for the Tea Party is steep.

2. Few of the Tea Party members I have met have the requisite knowledge of the nation's founding to make a convincing stand against the left.  Few realize that the American left is actually an outgrowth of the Republican Party, which in turn was an outgrowth of the Whig Party, which in turn reflected the impulses of the earlier Federalist Party.  Hence, the Republican and Democratic Parties are not very different.

The lack of understanding is not surprising because the school system engages in aggressive propagandizing in favor of big government as does the news media. Both favor the Whig/Federalist view. The Tea Party should conceptualize itself as Jeffersonian and Jacksonian, but the meanings of those two names are not clear to the Tea Party members.

Put another way, most members of the Tea Party believe that there are two philosophies, "liberal" and "conservative" and that they are fundamentally different, with "conservatives" reflecting the views of the founding fathers and "liberals" representing the views of the poor and professors who aim to revise the ideas of the founding fathers in an atheistic direction.  It is not surprising that they believe this because that is the nonsense that they have been taught in school.

The word "liberal" refers to the world view of the founding fathers.  There is no such thing as an American "conservative", and the ideas of John Locke and Baron de Montesquieu for which the American revolution was fought have nothing to do with conservatism.  Jefferson's Declaration of Independence was a radical statement for freedom. 

The ideas advocated by those incorrectly called "liberals" were advocated by the Federalists, who copied them from David Hume and other mercantilist economists.  Some of the ideas advocated by those incorrectly called "conservatives" were advocated by the anti-Federalists and to a lesser degree by Jefferson and then Andrew Jackson, who turned Jefferson's Democratic Republican Party into the Democratic Party. 

The supposed "conservative" or libertarian (truly the liberal) view was at best contemporaneous but really evolved several decades after what is mistakenly called the "liberal" or "progressive" view, which was developed several decades earlier in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Liberalism, the advocacy of liberalis, freedom, referred to the rejection of monarchy and in favor of limitation on the state.  The more extreme form of liberalism that rejected mercantilism came after mercantilism, after what is today called "progressivism," not before it.  Hamilton was the first "progressive" and Sam Adams was the first "conservative", except that Sam Adams was a radical and Hamilton was the closest thing in America to a conservative. So everything is backwards.

In America, there was no monarchy to speak of (other than loyalty to the British crown) and after the American Revolution there was at most remnants of conservatism in the breasts of the earliest "progressives," Hamilton and Adams.  It was the big government Federalists and then Whigs who served as the role model for today's "liberals." But they were the more conservative of the two American parties.  Jefferson and his group rejected all manifestations of monarchy.

The Whig Party became the Republican Party, which fought for big government in the Civil War.  The Democrats became the secondary party at the national level in the post-bellum period, the Gilded Age.  The big government Whig instincts found expression within a few decades as the Progressives rejected laissez faire, returning to their socialistic Hamiltonian roots.  The cooptation of liberalism occurred when Wilson was elected as a Democrat on a Progressive platform. As well, William Jennings Bryan had adopted populism, which rejected the liberalism of Jackson.

To integrate populism into the mainstream of American politics, Franklin D. Roosevelt combined it with the Whig Progressivism of his cousin, Theodore Roosevelt.  Much of the New Deal had already been advocated by Theodore Roosevelt and implemented by Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Hoover. The remaining elements were superficial laws like Social Security that redistributed wealth between the middle class and poor and gave the illusion of redistributing from the rich to the poor. The chief method by which Roosevelt's New Deal distributed money from the poor to the rich was Roosevelt's abolition of the gold standard and grant to the Fed of unlimited power to create money and give it to Wall Street and the money center banks in New York.  This went way beyond Hamilton's greatest fantasies about expansion of the state and the central bank in favor of the wealthy.

In combining populism with the Whig philosophy, Roosevelt played a hand that was familiar since the days of Augustus Caesar.  Give the populace bread and circus and use the state to procure benefits for the wealthy.  This was the way Rome held class warfare at bay for nearly five centuries.  To executive this strategy, control of the schools, the media and public debate were necessary.

Thus, public debate in America is between two Whig parties.  The Republicans perpetuated the Whig Progressivism of  Theodore Roosevelt while the Democrats perpetuated the Roman Whiggery of Franklin D. Roosevelt. There have been a handful of exceptions, such as Ron Paul, since World War I, but only a handful.  Both parties reflect the elitism of Hamilton.  The nation has rejected the laissez faire, democratic and competitive mindset of Jackson which generated the nation's economic success and growth.  

Unlike Rome, which relied on empire to replicate itself, the US continues to hope for technological growth to improve standards of living. But the engine of technological growth has been eviscerated by the central bank and the growth in the state.  Hence, the real hourly wage no longer increases as it did in the era of laissez faire. 

The Tea Party has been unable to conceptualize the source of the problems that anger it, namely, the loss of jobs and stagnation of standards of living as measured by the real hourly wage; the loss of younger generations' motivation to achieve; the increase in public support for destructive socialistic policies that will lead to bankruptcy; and the expansion of the entitlement  mindset that is leading to economic decline. As a result, the Tea Party lacks direction. 

The neoconservatives to whom Biterman alludes in his article are but one more manifestation of the pro bank Whigs.  The Party that fought the Civil War and that invented American Imperialism (under McKinley) is no stranger to the ideas of Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol. They are the party of economic decline, the party of big government, the party of the Fed, the party of Wall Street.  So long as the Tea Party cannot tell the difference between a Jefferson and a Palin, they will continue to shoot themselves in the foot.

1 comment:

Doug Plumb said...

I think they can tell the difference between a Palin and a Jacksonian. They just don't know the language of which you speak, nor the value of deeper understanding.

The history of your country and the world in general is so confusing (so much so I went back to the Greeks). Its really hard to get past the myths and legends to the truth in things.

Bob Chapman said, on Alex Jones the other day, that the planes going down and there is not enough time for the landing gear to come down. Maybe he was quoting Celente, I don't recall. But those two are in general agreement.

Catharine Austine Fitts says the bankers cannot win in the long term - they don't have the "mandate from heaven". I hope and wish she is right but doubt it at the same time. My confidence in humanity in no way equals hers. Fitts is quoted on the back of The Creature From Jekyll Island and was part of the upper banking establishment.