Tea party gatherings on the Fourth mix the educational and the patriotic

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"Tea party" activists across the nation tried to put the "independence" back in Independence Day this weekend with festivals and other gatherings focused on the Constitution -- and how to use it for political gain....

"The rallies were a start, but the goal now is to get people to stop and really think about things," said Kerry Scott, an organizer of the Alexandria Tea Party, one of several hundred conservative activists who attended "An American Event," a Fourth of July festival for "God and country" staged by a local farmer on rolling farmland in the foothills of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains this weekend.

Amid Civil War reenactors, a reading of the Declaration of Independence and booths selling Native American artwork, Scott handed out strips of white paper, each printed with quotations from such American luminaries as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington....

The view that the Constitution does not permit such federal actions as the passage of health reform, the regulation of the environment or the imposition of educational mandates on the states is, of course, a controversial one. Where the tea party sees an encroachment of states' rights, the left sees a valid interpretation of the mandate, described in Article 1, Section 8, to provide for the "general welfare."...

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Nat Bates - 7/18/2010

The left-wing once sought to connect its message to two important western philosophical traditions. One was the "Enlightenment," as it called itself. The Left once sought to say that its message was twentieth century Americanism, the legitimate successor to Thomas Jefferson. The other was the ethical message of the Abrahamic faith traditions, albeit without the theology. This was more common in America and England than on the Continent where atheism was a diriving force, but one can find powerful ideas from Christianity in various non-Marxist sociaist movements. The notion that the oppressor and the arrogant among the rich were excluded from Heaven was a powerful moral force to advance social justice.

Sadly, the modern political Left is shallow, and cannot really grapple with complexity so it has ceded philosophy and moral politics to the morally dumbest among the conservatives. The Tea Party movement has arisen which is shallow, and much more well funded, able to claim the great traditions of western and American thought without even being challenged on the most fundamental of points by historians and media figures who know better.

The Tea Party is philosophically shallow in its embrace of either patriotism or religion. There is no real love of democracy or equality. The quotes from the founders are all plastic and without the deep human depth of any of them. Nor, frankly, is there anything of the deep richness of the Bible or the Abrahamic traditions in what they are saying.

A lot of people are stirred up by what they barely understand, and refuse to think. They don't actually know the Constitution, or any real founding principles. What they have is a rejection of intellectualism, all manipulated by elitist intellectuals who are simply using them. The fault rests with the progressives for being shallow, and for being arrogant moral elitists who are too good to condescend themselves. It is they who created Sarah Palin. (I do like Ron Paul, and I wish he would leave the Republican Party and this whole movement)

The truth is that patriotism is an honorable thing. Thomas Paine was the original patriot. His belief in human equality was vital to our revolution and he was no landed property owner. Nor was taxes his real concern. His concern was freedom and equality. Again, taxes was not his real concern, nor was "big government." He understood that the State served powerful interests, but that the issue was not the government per se but rather who controlled it.

Strangely, Madison, who was far more elitist than Paine, agreed with Paine on that issue. Madison knew that the real issue was one of control and not scope. But, in any case, I digress. Enjoy your Tea Parties, just as long as you understand that the issue in 1776 was one of who controls and primarily about taxes.