Not A Tea Party, A Confederate Party
August 22, 2014 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Tea Partiers say you don’t understand them because you don’t understand American history. That’s probably true, but not in the way they want you to think. The Weekly Sift examines the origins and beliefs of the Tea Party movement, tying it back to the Lost Cause movement.

The author's analysis of the lost history of Reconstruction and how it has become a memory hole in American history is interesting, and explains why neoconfederate thought has always been a part of US culture.
posted by NoxAeternum (94 comments total) 80 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. This is really an interesting read. I'm not sure I'm qualified to evaluate the claims but passages like this one are gripping and have a disturbing ring of truth to them:
When in the majority, Confederates protect the established order through democracy. If they are not in the majority, but have power, they protect it through the authority of law. If the law is against them, but they have social standing, they create shams of law, which are kept in place through the power of social disapproval. If disapproval is not enough, they keep the wrong people from claiming their legal rights by the threat of ostracism and economic retribution. If that is not intimidating enough, there are physical threats, then beatings and fires, and, if that fails, murder.

That was the victory plan of Reconstruction. Black equality under the law was guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. But in the Confederate mind, no democratic process could legitimate such a change in the social order. It simply could not be allowed to stand, and it did not stand.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:09 AM on August 22, 2014 [28 favorites]


It's going to take me awhile to read all of this, but I absolutely agree with the gaping hole in learning about reconstruction. Growing up in Virginia, I learned about American history in excruciating detail right up until the civil war, and then things started speeding up and, before I knew it, Franz Ferdinand had been shot. Ever since high school, I've always wondered, as we move further and further into the future, who ultimately gets to make the decisions about what is and isn't important to teach our kids about American history? What are we living through today that will be glossed over 50 or 100 years from now?
posted by C'est la D.C. at 11:17 AM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Tea Partiers are like a revisionist history zombie squad. They are always harping about how our country isn't being true to our ideals and history and, yet, their go-to historical "lessons" and examples are usually astoundingly wrong. Unfortunately, willfull and blindingly gullible ignorance makes for very intractable opponents.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:18 AM on August 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


Despite the Tea Party's constant invocation of the Founding Fathers, their Neo-Confederate ties have been obvious from the beginning. Somehow, though, they're rarely called out on this in the mainstream. (Rand Paul continues to pal around with his former aide, Jack "Southern Avenger" Hunter, for instance.) This article goes some way to illuminating the context of why.

Tangentially: No, the Founders Were Not Tea Partiers.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:19 AM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is amazing. Thank you so much for posting it. The cyclical nature of Confederate victory, how its drilled down to events that have taken place in the past few weeks, months, years and decades, is something I didn't really understand before reading it. I find it astonishing that so much of this could have been prevented had the rule of law been protected, not abandoned.
posted by orangutan at 11:22 AM on August 22, 2014


There is no greater - and more dangerous - myth among the American "Establishment" (mostly white, not-so-much Liberal) than the one that "we finally fixed all that in the 1960s/70s". An entire century of civil rights failures fixed with a few legislative "acts"? I was barely a teenager (raised by Republican parents) and I knew better than that.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:23 AM on August 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


Ever since high school, I've always wondered, as we move further and further into the future, who ultimately gets to make the decisions about what is and isn't important to teach our kids about American history?

The Texas State Board Of Education Textbook Selection Committee, from what I understand.
posted by hippybear at 11:30 AM on August 22, 2014 [21 favorites]


I've always felt the period spanning Reconstruction was analogous to conditions in Germany following World War I that lead to Hitler's rise. The difference is that Hitler was utterly defeated, and the German people at some point were forced to truly reckon with their past and have attempted to make reparations. Whereas we in the South have basically licked our wounds and simmered in resentment for 150 years while uniformly resisting any serious self-reflection or coming to terms with the past. This is how symbols of the old cause have persisted to the present day. We're a stubborn lot, grudge-holders with long memories. Must be the Scots-Irish influence.
posted by echocollate at 11:31 AM on August 22, 2014 [17 favorites]


This seems like an incredibly limited and simplistic take on something a lot of other people have written more deeply about.
posted by koeselitz at 11:34 AM on August 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


This seems like an incredibly limited and simplistic take on something a lot of other people have written more deeply about.

Of course this isn't trying to explore every nuance and detail here. What this does do a good job of is introducing the topic and amassing multiple references for further reading, which is no less valuable.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 11:37 AM on August 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


Some specific examples of how and why you think so might be helpful to the class...
posted by saulgoodman at 11:38 AM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Am I understanding correctly that he likes the Left's tendency to give up once the Supreme Court rules on something? Or just the presidency?

Or is he just pointing it out? Because it does seem more true than I would like. (The Citizens United ruling comes to mind.)
posted by small_ruminant at 11:39 AM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


koeselitz do you disagree with what's presented, or just think it's missing important information?
posted by emjaybee at 11:42 AM on August 22, 2014


this article seems to make them out to be the Klan without the hoods. There aren't many where I am, so i basically ignore the entire movement, but I had previously thought of them as just a fringe cross between far right republicans and libertarians.
I also had the feeling they were losing steam, no?
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:42 AM on August 22, 2014


I also had the feeling they were losing steam, no?

No. The media narrative has been "the establishment is beating back the Tea Party," but in actuality almost every elected Republican has moved far enough to the right as to be indistinguishable from Tea Party candidates (who often move even further to the right to compensate). The difference is in tactics, not in ideology, and even that gets blurred a lot.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:46 AM on August 22, 2014 [16 favorites]


Tea Partiers are like a revisionist history zombie squad.

It's less revisionist and more "amplificationist" of older fictions. Hannah Arendt discusses this treatment of history in her Origins of Totalitarianism, where classically Fascist political movements reinvent ages-old motifs of conspiracy and lawlessness as a means to "take back" control from some targeted minority.

The "Neo-Confederacy" element at the heart of the Tea Party movement is a modern repackaging of old lies to the same ends, namely greater control over the US by the Koch family and leaders of other corporate entities through Tea Party fronts, an idea which had its kernel in a 1971 memo by Lewis Powell.

You can hear previous incarnations of it in admissions by Lee Atwater, and modern-day reinventions of it in public speeches like the one the Texan governor gave yesterday at the Heritage Foundation, laden with similar dog-whistling about how we need to return to law and order, as we no longer live under rule of law due to the sitting President.
posted by Mr. Six at 11:46 AM on August 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


Never trust a political organisation that claims voters don't follow American history yet fails to understand the meaning of their own party's name.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:48 AM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


The thing that leaps out at me is the way the way money turned out to transcend both nationalism and ethics. Was there ever a conflict in human history where the ruling elites of the losing side not only weren't killed or imprisoned, but allowed to reclaim their pre-conflict estates?

If there is a "single biggest mistake the Union made" it was surely restoring the Southern elites who had caused all the trouble in the first place, since that put them in a position and gave them the means to set the white and black poor against one another and wrest control of the state governments.

But if you look at the war, as I generally have, as basically an argument between two groups of rich white men over who was going to set policy, then it all makes perfect sense. Having made their point the victorious Northerners had no desire to completely ruin their old colleagues, and probably less desire to deal with the unpredictable rifraff who were likely to take their place.
posted by localroger at 11:48 AM on August 22, 2014 [21 favorites]


I'm curious about a particular related question that's recently started bugging me due to historical circumstances I learned about while researching my own family history: How much overlap was there between the set of agitators who pushed for secession and promoted the confederacy and long-established old money families who claimed roots to European nobility and were suspected of disloyalty to the revolutionary cause from the beginning. In my family's case, the branch of the family that later supported the confederacy had earlier in history been suspected (though cleared with the help of George Washington himself) of disloyalty to the revolution and reputedly continued to maintain close ties with European nobility long after doing so was looked down upon publicly as potentially treasonous.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:49 AM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


I despise the backwardness and ignorance of a lot of the Tea Party's stances, and their racism undermines whatever good points they're trying to make. I also feel like the majority of them are pawns of the wealthy but seem oblivious to it. Determinedly, obstinately oblivious. Their theoretically sensible stances (less government! lower taxes!) repeatedly result in gains for the wealthy and the corporation and a serious fucking of the rest of us, but they are sticking to the sensibility of the theories anyway. Over and over and over again.

That said, the only problem I have with the Tea Party's actions is when they try to bully through intimidation via arms, and I have only seen it happen a few times (for instance in Arizona). Personally, I don't think reminding people that The People are armed is intimidation in and of itself, though metafilter in general disagrees with that.

The Tea Party's political involvement and protests, though? I'm 100% in favor of those and I only wish the rest of the country was as involved in politics. I have often seen it work for the left, especially in the service of environmental causes. Without the big money behind it, it's less organized, and the protesters never feel like they're part of something bigger, which is a shame.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:50 AM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Lest one doubt the "selective reading of history" + "threats against anyone with different views" aspect of this, one only needs read the comments.

Am I understanding correctly that he likes the Left's tendency to give up once the Supreme Court rules on something?

I believe he's pointing out that once the SCOTUS rules, the next escalation for the Left is generally not "maybe it's time to use those 2nd amendment rights we keep going on about".
posted by kjs3 at 11:51 AM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


public speeches like the one the Texan governor gave yesterday at the Heritage Foundation, laden with similar dog-whistling about how we need to return to law and order, as we no longer live under rule of law due to the sitting President.

You mean, the Texas governor who was recently criminally charged with abuse of power because he tried to defund an entire office of his government to try to force the resignation of an official there who had personal legal problems? Yes, based on what he's said about those charges, he has SO MUCH RESPECT for the rule of law.
posted by hippybear at 11:51 AM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Preaching to the choir with this one. I've been promoting this perspective since the late Clinton era, starting with my European friends who used to be so confused by the seeming "irrationality" of the US right wing. (I say "used to" because, post Bush II, the irrationality is all too clear... )

Contemporary US "conservatism" represents the victory of Confederate dead-enders after 150+ years of protracted cold war. Unfortunately for the rest of us, part of the process involved metastasizing Confederate values outside of their original geographical constraints, spreading them into the rural areas of virtually every state in the union. There is no state in the union where one won't see pickups with stars and bars plates, and Rebel cool is manifest in a major slice of our entertainment industry. The culture wars, ranging in severity from Dominionism all the way down to rolling coal, is just the latest memeplex in a long line of revanchist political strategies spewing forth from the former Confederate states.
posted by mondo dentro at 11:52 AM on August 22, 2014 [26 favorites]


Where does Libertarianism fit into the Confederate cold war?
posted by stbalbach at 11:57 AM on August 22, 2014


Utterly unsurprising. When I lived in Amarillo the local Tea Party was lead by two United Daughters of the Confederacy, and one woman who wasn't but was an outright racist.

Two of those three worked in the office I did, and were frequently talking about "those people" and how "they" were responsible for everything bad in the universe. There was never any invocation of the N word, they were far too modernized for that, but the idea that America was divided between normal people and blacks, with blacks as outsiders who were always to blame for anything wrong, was unquestioned by them.

I was known to be married to a black woman, so their conversations tended to chop off when I walked by (as often happens around people who know the race of my spouse). But I still vividly recall them discussing how the Tea Party should address MLK day, which they referred to as "kill whitey day".

The two Tea Party leaders I knew at my office were also avid birthers, long after birtherism lost its veneer of mainstream respectability. Because birtherism is just a way of saying "the President is a nigger" without actually using openly racist language.

That the Tea Party is essentially Lost Cause-ism dressed up in modern drag has been so obvious to me since my first encounter with it, that I find myself surprised to see that this isn't common knowledge. The Tea Party started because a black man is President, and opposing the idea of a black man being President has been their entire reason for existence since the beginning.

I can only suppose that those who find the Lost Cause-ism of the Tea Party surprising are those who aren't very familiar with the Tea Party.
posted by sotonohito at 11:58 AM on August 22, 2014 [25 favorites]


Where does Libertarianism fit into the Confederate cold war?

Previously on MeFi
posted by zombieflanders at 11:58 AM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Where does Libertarianism fit into the Confederate cold war?

It's a convenient confusion. I'm a pretty standard lefty, a nominal Democrat most of my life, who embraces egalitarian movements toward decentralization, cooperative work arrangements, and the like--for multiple reasons. So, that makes me some sort of anarcho-lefty or "libertarian", in it's original sense. Other MeFites are in a similar boat, as a number of threads on both big and small "L" libertarianism have shown.

But the Pauline Libertarians are really just repackaged states-righters, as far as I can tell. That they find common cause with others, like corporatists and ojectivists of various stripes, doesn't contradict the underlying neo-Confederate ideology.
posted by mondo dentro at 12:05 PM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Point of clarification: in the above I'm talking about the leaders of the Libertarian political strand on the right, not necessarily those, like many young people, who are being bamboozled into joining the movement by the nice-sounding liberty rhetoric.
posted by mondo dentro at 12:08 PM on August 22, 2014


Ever since high school, I've always wondered, as we move further and further into the future, who ultimately gets to make the decisions about what is and isn't important to teach our kids about American history? What are we living through today that will be glossed over 50 or 100 years from now?
I was going to make a joke about textbooks going straight from "Bill Clinton impeached" to "Obama's war in Iraq", but instead I'll mention one thing that I think might actually happen (not in serious accounts of history, of course, but in the common wisdom maybe):

Not even a year into Obama's first term, one of my neighbors was complaining to me about all sorts of specifics regarding the financial collapse - the subprime crisis, specific bankruptcies and such like Lehman Brothers, the bailout for banks, the bailout for the auto industry, the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the stock market crash, etc. etc. He explicitly blamed Obama for all of them. I told him these things actually all happened under Bush. He scoffed and dismissively told me I was incorrect.

Again, this was not even a year into Obama's first term. I wouldn't be surprised if his beliefs on this were the common wisdom twenty years from now.
posted by Flunkie at 12:12 PM on August 22, 2014 [16 favorites]


I take as dim a view of the TP as the next guy, and have frequently spoken here on the blue of the confederate political character of these nativists. However, if I can allow myself a burst of unreasonable optimism, I think they and their cause are doomed for reasons of demographic change, if nothing else. Their last hurrah is likely to be the upcoming midterm elections of 2014. It's a slow decline from there on. They'll become more clearly confined to the South. They'll become even more concentrated there and nastier politically, which sucks for the residents of those states, but they'll be less of a threat nationally. Yes, there'll be prolonged gridlock, but it's like in arm-wrestling - both sides are huffing and puffing, and the arms are locked and not moving, but there is that moment when one side is clearly going to lose and slowly, imperceptibly they weaken, until one sudden moment of utter collapse, and then it's all over. The gridlock will of course last until at least the next census, which is still quite a while away (2020), but if the Democrats capture the next two presidential elections and at least manage to hold onto the Senate, then I think this is the end play here. Which is not to say that they can't still get up to all sorts of nasty mischief, but well, recall how many such movements we've had that seemed impossible to dislodge, and which collapsed with astonishing rapidity. Bottom line, I'm optimistic (famous last words!).

Florida will go full-on blue. North Carolina will go full-on blue. Virginia will go full on blue. But it won't be a clean sweep, as I suspect Michigan will go red, as will Pennsylvania. Ultimately however, it's all in the D direction (Nate Silver had a nifty interactive table showing the shift by election years into the future - the last to be competitive for the blue team will be Mississippi from what I recall, in some absurdly distant future).
posted by VikingSword at 12:16 PM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


They'll become more clearly confined to the South. They'll become even more concentrated there and nastier politically, which sucks for the residents of those states, but they'll be less of a threat nationally.

So this is all well and good for those of us sitting not in the South, but the question is how much damage are they going to do before they're done? That's what the national threat is.

November before last, Minnesota had two amendments on the ballot. One was to ban same-sex marriage and one was to require photo ID to vote. If God (or the devil or whoever) came to me and said I could pick only one of those to fail, I'd pick voter ID even though that's against my own self-interest. It's much more important that other people be able to vote than it is for me to get married. The damage of one is much easier to undo than the other.
posted by hoyland at 12:20 PM on August 22, 2014 [12 favorites]


Oh no, by no means am I trying to underplay the damage that they can still do. As they say, a rat is most dangerous when cornered. They're thrashing, and can still land some very painful blows before they're throttled. I'm looking toward a longer term trend, and eventually the numbers become lopsided enough so that even with voter suppression/disenfranchisement shenanigans, they'll lose - at which point the collapse will be lightning fast. In fact that's the dynamic that's frequently described in static oppressive systems versus systems that allow evolution. The rigid systems don't change much, but once the pressure is sufficient, they explode like a pressure cooker, whereas a flexible system is like a balloon that is flexible and allows slow deflation. The TP is an extremist movement that will simply not compromise. Which leaves no alternatives to resolve conflict, but main force, and once an opponent has built up enough force to defeat you, they have no longer any incentive to compromise in turn, and you'll simply be demolished. They'll hang in there for what will seem like forever and then one day collapse. Or at least that's the story I tell myself to keep from drinking.
posted by VikingSword at 12:32 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


However, if I can allow myself a burst of unreasonable optimism...

How you can maintain your optimism in the face of an opposition that has overcome many supposed defeats (starting with the Civil War itself and heading right up to the election--twice--of Obama) is beyond me. But, more power to you. I hope you're right.

My unreasonable pessimism stems from the fact that the establishment (quasi-)left still has not adequately understood rightist semiotics, and hence has failed to adapt to rightist irrationalist tactics. Establishment lefties are still in love with rational debate and wonkery. Humans need (and respond) to much more than that.

The culture war, as a strategic concept exactly addresses that need. How many more decades to we need to keep hearing the same tired hand wringing from lefties along the lines of "why oh why do those people keep voting against their self interest?!!"

For example, failure to hold one's political opponents accountable for failures (not to mention outright crimes) is not viewed as "moving on" or "taking the high road" by most voters. It's wrong not only because it violates principles of justice, but, maybe more importantly, it's wrong because it symbolizes weakness and/or a lack of concern about values that people connect with emotionally more than they do rationally.
posted by mondo dentro at 12:35 PM on August 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm looking toward a longer term trend ... They'll hang in there for what will seem like forever and then one day collapse. Or at least that's the story I tell myself to keep from drinking.

The longest-term trend in US history is white supremacy, so for my part I'll just start drinking now.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:50 PM on August 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


How you can maintain your optimism in the face of an opposition that has overcome many supposed defeats (starting with the Civil War itself and heading right up to the election--twice--of Obama)

For five reasons: Demographics, Demographics, Demographics, Demographics, and Demographics. OK, and a sixth reason: the inability of the TP to attract anyone who isn't white (two-headed cow exceptions notwithstanding) - or rather, the active repelling that they do.

Black people and Latinos are unlikely to hanker for the Confederacy. Asians voted for Obama over Romney in even greater number than Latinos. These groups are a lost cause for the TP (excepting subgroups of Asians that are pretty small in number).

The best the TP can hope for is for African-American and Latino voters to disengage from the process, hope that (certainly for Black voters) Obama is the high water mark of participation. They'd stand maybe a chance of inroads among Latinos (see Bush II), except with the full-on nativism and immigrant bashing, that boat has sailed for a couple of generations (see California).

Meanwhile, the white vote as a percentage of all votes is shrinking. Yes, it'll probably continue to drift more and more R, from today's 61% to perhaps as high as 70-75, but if the minority voters continue to grow, that will offset this.

The TP's (at this point there is little political distinction between R and TP) best hope is the combination of more and more whites voting R, and less and less engagement and voting from minority communities.

My optimism is in thinking that the absolute number of non-white D voters will grow faster than disengagement percentage to still deliver more overall D votes, and that it will be more than the rightward drift of white voters. I see the lines crossing at an optimistic point, but I guess we'll have to see. The next 2 years though, will be tough, no question - it looks like the D's have a very high chance of losing the Senate, and well, if you thought gridlock has been bad up till now, wait until the TP controls both houses. Better scenario: Clinton wins and Senate goes blue; worse scenario: Clinton wins, but both houses remain R (worst: Pres is R, both houses are R, I don't even want to think about).
posted by VikingSword at 12:53 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I'm qualified to evaluate the claims but passages like this one are gripping and have a disturbing ring of truth to them:

Especially when viewed through the prism of #Ferguson. It's incredible to see concepts like "law and order" used to justify tear gas and rubber bullets in response to a display of First Amendment rights.

Now, I'm not saying the Ferguson police are necessarily an extension of the Tea Party, but Missouri *was* a slave state, and what the demonstrations threatened to do was upend the prevailing social order (whites in charge of a black community).
posted by rocketman at 12:54 PM on August 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


so for my part I'll just start drinking now.

WAAAAYYYYYY ahead of you.
posted by hippybear at 12:54 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


They'll become even more concentrated there and nastier politically, which sucks for the residents of those states

Or people with family members who live there.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:55 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Demographics, Demographics, Demographics, Demographics, and Demographics.

Yeah, well, like I said, facts only count for so much. Demographics favored people of color in pre-revolutionary America, in 19th century US South, in apartheid-era South Africa, etc. Demographics is only destiny of there's an ideology and boots-on-the-ground political movement to make it so. I don't think the current iteration of the Democratic Party ("Class War? We don't need no stinking class war!") is up to the task.
posted by mondo dentro at 1:01 PM on August 22, 2014


Was there ever a conflict in human history where the ruling elites of the losing side not only weren't killed or imprisoned, but allowed to reclaim their pre-conflict estates?

Yes.
posted by Ndwright at 1:03 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Again, this was not even a year into Obama's first term. I wouldn't be surprised if his beliefs on this were the common wisdom twenty years from now.

It's very difficult to challenge people's preconceived notions (regardless of political affiliation). If someone is conditioned to believe that conservativism is preferrable to liberalism because liberal governments unfairly intervene in and screw up markets, they will map that narrative onto events even if it's completely wrong.

Regarding the housing crisis, I've had internet arguments with people who believe that skyrocketing real estate prices in California were due to immigrants ruining the place, and that executives who made millions of dollars during the real estate boom only did so because they were under pressure from politically correct government bureaucrats. Logic is not that powerful a force in the world.
posted by leopard at 1:27 PM on August 22, 2014


me: “This seems like an incredibly limited and simplistic take on something a lot of other people have written more deeply about.”

C'est la D.C.: “Of course this isn't trying to explore every nuance and detail here. What this does do a good job of is introducing the topic and amassing multiple references for further reading, which is no less valuable.”

The references seem kind of thin; that's part of my problem here. They seem mostly to be references to popular historical biographies and such. Some are good, some are useful, but – well, there's a problem with only quoting historians, and that's the fact that history itself really isn't in dispute here, or shouldn't be. There is not great controversy about what exactly happened in history. People have been trying to sort out what it meant for generations – and that's the key. And it feels like this is kind of an overview via Wikipedia which lacks the depth of context, and therefore makes some mistakes.

saulgoodman: “Some specific examples of how and why you think so might be helpful to the class...”

emjaybee: “koeselitz do you disagree with what's presented, or just think it's missing important information?”

Well, I think it's extraordinarily simplistic to say that the Tea Party represents a resurgence of the Confederate movement, or of post-Civil-War valorization of the antebellum. It might be possible to connect the Tea Party directly to the Confederates, but you'd have to do a lot more work than I see here; they're just too vastly different. Most of the discussion of the Confederates I see in this piece is just a very simple, basic idea of what the Confederates believed, gleaned largely from the popular culture's idea of what they were. But the actual Confederates, the people who believed that secession was a principle that flowed directly from Constitutional principles, were utterly different from anything we see today. I have never heard a Tea Partier espouse anything like compact theory or departmentalism, for instance, and those were really the two cornerstones of what Confederate secession was supposed by them to mean.

The Confederates had a lot of reasons to believe that slavery was constitutionally lawful; these reasons resided in a view of the Constitution which was fundamentally opposed to the view the North took, which coincidentally is pretty much the view we have today, with some alterations. This Confederate view of the Constitution had some pretty strong roots; it went back to Thomas Jefferson, among others, and was coeval with the founding.

To try to put it bluntly: the Civil War was about slavery, an issue left unresolved at the time of the founding. The Confederates mouthed a lot of reasons for the war, but all of them came down to slavery. But the Tea Party seems to have fundamentally different aims than those who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. The Tea Party does not even seem to know what the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions were; it looks to the founders themselves, to the framework that the Tea Party understands them to have put in place, and (as far as I can tell) most of all to the Declaration of Independence. You can kind of connect the Tea Party to the Confederates through poor white southerners, but that's pretty much it (and that would ignore the popularity of the Tea Party outside the South).

The Tea Party is clearly not aiming to bring back slavery.
posted by koeselitz at 1:32 PM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


The Tea Party is clearly not aiming to bring back slavery.

Slavery, outright? No.

A social, legal and financial order in which government and law are bent in favor of those of a particular racial-religious-political class at the expense of an underclass often referred to in subhuman terms? Yep.

...Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
posted by delfin at 1:42 PM on August 22, 2014 [25 favorites]


The Tea Party is clearly not aiming to bring back slavery.

The article is very clearly about Jim Crow style extra-legal tactics for effectively achieving the same practical outcomes without calling it slavery in name (and the history of how those tactics have been employed effectively without interruption since the Civil War to continue to advance the confederate cause by other means), so this objection seems to miss the point by a lot.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:47 PM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


The Tea Party is clearly not aiming to bring back slavery.

Come on now. Can we all agree that when people post here, or even write entire blog posts like the topic of the FPP, being "simplistic" goes with the territory?

Besides, the post in question is absolutely not simplistic. It's arguably reductionist, but one shouldn't confuse the two. And no one is going to mistake it with a scholarly treatise.

But to say that the TP isn't trying to bring back slavery is to miss the point of what the Confederate mindset is, as spelled out by the article in question. Slavery isn't the issue, per se. The perpetuation of the Natural Order is. The fact that we can replace slavery with extreme poverty, police oppression, inequality under the law, wage slavery, etc. is hardly a counter argument.
posted by mondo dentro at 1:49 PM on August 22, 2014 [17 favorites]


Also, there are few readings of US history more simplistic than saying that the Civil War was "about slavery". But you know that!
posted by mondo dentro at 1:50 PM on August 22, 2014


Also, given how anti-worker the TP philosophy is, saying that they don't want to bring back slavery is debatable.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:51 PM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also, there are few readings of US history more simplistic than saying that the Civil War was "about slavery". But you know that!

Based on the actual articles of secession by the southern states that I've read, it's not simplistic, it's factual.
posted by hippybear at 1:54 PM on August 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


It's interesting how many people seem to want to respond to my last sentence but apparently choose to ignore everything that came before it. I probably should have left it out, since nobody is claiming the Tea Party really wants to revive slavery. This article is clearly claiming that the Tea Party is a revival of Confederatism. This seems false to me, and I said why.
posted by koeselitz at 1:54 PM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


I still don't see it. In my personal life, there is no doubt the most fervent Tea Partier types have also been obsessed with Civil War history and the legacy of the confederacy.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:57 PM on August 22, 2014


As opposed to lupus, it's always racism.
posted by tommasz at 1:57 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


mondo dentro: “Also, there are few readings of US history more simplistic than saying that the Civil War was ‘about slavery’. But you know that!”

Bullshit. It is factual, not simplistic. What was it about, if not slavery? States' rights? Yes – states' rights to own slaves Economic factors? Yes – the economic factors of owning slaves. The power of the federal government? Yes – the power of the federal government to own slaves. Domestic differences? Yes – domestic differences between those whose economy is based on slaves and those whose economy is not.
posted by koeselitz at 1:58 PM on August 22, 2014 [13 favorites]


Also, there are few readings of US history more simplistic than saying that the Civil War was "about slavery". But you know that!
Based on the actual articles of secession by the southern states that I've read, it's not simplistic, it's factual.
Based on the Confederate Constitution, too. It's essentially word-for-word the US Constitution, plus several things to further enshrine slavery. There really is very little in there that's different, other than the additional slavery stuff.

The whole "States' Rights!" fightback against the idea that the Civil War was about slavery is, while commonly asserted, just a retrofit to attempt to make the Southern cause more palatable to modern ears.

Here's a line-by-line comparison of the two. States' rights-related changes are few and far between, minor, and in some cases decrease the rights of states. Slavery-related changes, on the other hand, are prominent and frequent.

Plus, I don't see how anyone who has seriously read anything that Southern leaders actually wrote or said in the leadup -- even in the decades leading up -- to the Civil War could seriously argue with the idea that it was almost entirely about slavery. They put their own worries about potentially losing their "right" to own other human beings was on nonstop display.
posted by Flunkie at 2:03 PM on August 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


Bullshit. It is factual, not simplistic. What was it about, if not slavery?

OK, I'll accept your criticism. As long as we agree it wasn't about "ending slavery", which was my reading of what you wrote. It certainly was "about slavery" in broad geo-political terms.

Accepting your broader read of what "being about slavery" means, then, why can't you take the idea of the Confederate ideology in a broader way, as well? You seem to want to interpret Confederate thinking narrowly, as regarding only the specific events revolving around the Civil War. The article in question is clearly talking about an ideological stance that expands well beyond that.
posted by mondo dentro at 2:06 PM on August 22, 2014


I should say, in the interest of "showing my work" and answering saulgoodman's request that I give examples:

The idea that conservatives represent a "neo-Confederatism" is not a new one. In particular, there are those who have tried to argue that the Tea Party is neo-Confederate in basis.

I disagree, and I think those who have argued otherwise have made better points in general.

A good place to start would be a fine piece by Ken Kersch entitled "Beyond Originalism: Conservative Declarationism and Conservative Redemption." I confess that this is a piece by a former professor of mine, but having looked around a bit I really do think it's the best overview of the academic problem available, and I think it is quite readable for an academic paper (although it is on the longer side.) It also has a lot of good references to those who advance the idea that modern conservatism is neo-Confederatism, if you wish to explore those. To wit:
In describing the uses of Declarationism [i e an attempt to revive the principles of the Declaration of Independence] within the modern conservative movement, I also seek to refute the overly simplistic historical accounts of contemporary conservatism, such as those advanced by the historian Nancy MacLean, that insist that neo-Confederatism is the "true" animating engine of that movement. Such accounts, which essentially treat the modern movement as an effort to turn back the clock to a long-gone, and morally discredited, status quo – presumably to put their liberal/left political compatriots on the qui vive – elide the complicated dynamics of constitutional development as understood by Declarationism's most sophisticated students, who work at the intersection of law and political science. One of the most prominent of these, Bruce Ackerman, has emphasized that those employing constitutional arguments in politics are always simultaneously looking backwards while moving forwards. As such, constitutional ideologies in the American context exist in the form of layered memory. This layered memory is a form of nationalism, in which political interpreters advance claims of fidelity, betrayal, and legacy, and rally others with calls to restoration and redemption. In this political struggle over memory, opponents – and even enemies – are defined, and alliances are forged. Appeals to constitutional symbols like the Declarationist Triptych are important parts of this process.
posted by koeselitz at 2:06 PM on August 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


The Tea Party is clearly not aiming to bring back slavery.

but that's not what the article is arguing. there's the strategy the TP and the confederates share, and the political objectives implicit in it. it was already quoted by saulgoodman but here it is again:
When in the majority, Confederates protect the established order through democracy. If they are not in the majority, but have power, they protect it through the authority of law. If the law is against them, but they have social standing, they create shams of law, which are kept in place through the power of social disapproval. If disapproval is not enough, they keep the wrong people from claiming their legal rights by the threat of ostracism and economic retribution. If that is not intimidating enough, there are physical threats, then beatings and fires, and, if that fails, murder.
that's the point of concrete continuity between the two—something more elusive and difficult to factually pin down than the kind of very particular points koselitz addresses.

there's also this claim, from the endnotes, that the TP reading of the constitution and founding fathers passes through a confederate political philosophy:
Modern conservatives who attribute their views to the Founders are usually unknowingly relying on Calhoun’s false image of the Founders, which was passed down through Davis and from there spread widely in Confederate folklore.
posted by spindle at 2:06 PM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


spindle: “but that's not what the article is arguing”

yep
posted by koeselitz at 2:08 PM on August 22, 2014


spindle: “there's also this claim, from the endnotes, that the TP reading of the constitution and founding fathers passes through a confederate political philosophy...”

In order for that to make sense, the author would have to explain why Calhoun's general political philosophy is completely and utterly different from, and in many cases diametrically opposed to, the modern Tea Party ideal. For instance, Calhoun was constantly advancing the notion that the Constitution was, like the Articles of Confederation, a compact between sovereign states. This is not a Tea Party idea, and it is not generally advanced by the Tea Party at all.
posted by koeselitz at 2:11 PM on August 22, 2014


In order for that to make sense, the author would have to explain why Calhoun's general political philosophy is completely and utterly different from, and in many cases diametrically opposed to, the modern Tea Party ideal.

You probably hate Corey Robin's style of analysis of the Reactionary Mind, as well? A style that seeks to identify a core of ideological persistence in the face of substantial historical changes? Many historians object to him on similar-sounding grounds.
posted by mondo dentro at 2:22 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


The best framing I've seen about this in a long time is Colin Woodard's American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. The original colonies were founded by different people for very different reasons, yet we're taught that they were homogenous in their revolt from the British crown. This book explains that, and how many other cultural divides have their roots in those conflicts.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:39 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


a compact between sovereign states. This is not a Tea Party idea, and it is not generally advanced by the Tea Party at all.

Really? Because that's pretty much the Tenthers.
posted by wuwei at 2:39 PM on August 22, 2014


Was there ever a conflict in human history where the ruling elites of the losing side not only weren't killed or imprisoned, but allowed to reclaim their pre-conflict estates?

Ndwright:

Yes.


While the Émigrés' billions were a step toward what happened in the US, they definitely weren't there yet. It's the Émigrés' billions precisely because those who stayed got killed and imprisoned, and while those who left eventually got compensated they weren't installed back in their old estates to keep screwing with the local politics.

So it was a step toward the idea of keeping the gentility afloat despite their poor decisions and bad bets, but it was not the wholesale forgiveness and reinstatement which was granted to the Southern elites.
posted by localroger at 3:02 PM on August 22, 2014


wuwei: “Really? Because that's pretty much the Tenthers.”

Well – the idea that the Constitution is merely a compact between sovereign states is not really inherent in the 10th Amendment, and I don't think anybody could interpret it to mean that. In fact, by my reading, the 10th Amendment contradicts this notion by asserting that the Constitution itself can dictate what powers are and are not left to the states and to the citizens. This makes it seem as though John Marshall's doctrine – that the Constitution is an agreement of a people, not a compact between sovereign states, and that the states were actually created in their current form by the Constitution – is the correct one, as I believe it is.

The compact theorists really believed that the Constitution had no powers that weren't granted it by sovereign states. An outgrowth of this doctrine was the notion of departmentalism – that is, that every department, including the states themselves, had its own right to interpret the Constitution as it saw fit, and nobody was beholden to federal powers (like the Supreme Court) for interpretation. Ultimately, the compact theorists believed that the Constitution was created by the states and therefore could be destroyed by them if any of them so chose to secede.

I don't think the Tenthers really believe that, but perhaps I'm wrong. They seem more like opportunists grasping at straws.
posted by koeselitz at 3:02 PM on August 22, 2014


Other books that might fill in some of the temporal, physical, and ideological gaps between the Confederacy and the tea party (or not) include:

Slavery by Another Name - Showing how governments and corporations conspired to convict huge numbers of Southern blacks of trumped-up charges for the purpose of making them work for free.

Fear Itself - I'm only partway through it but so far it's done a great job chronicling the influence of white supremacy on the New Deal and the beginning of the migration of Southern conservatives from the Democratic to the Republican Party.

Before the Storm and Nixonland - continuing the story of how voters interested in preserving white supremacy were courted by the Republican Party and how their influence waxed over that of more traditional establishment Republicans in the 1960s and 70s. I haven't read The Invisible Bridge yet, but I expect that it continues this story.
posted by burden at 3:06 PM on August 22, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think one of the major missing pieces in both the article and in the comments here is religion. From everything that I've seen, the rise of Christian fundamentalism, its influence spread through television/televangelism and AM radio, has been a major factor in the resulting Tea Party movement. From Dominionists, Eschatology and Evangelical Christianity we can fill in pretty large gaps that tie the Tea Party to the Confederacy. Just my 2 cents.
posted by Chuffy at 3:19 PM on August 22, 2014


Interesting article, but I don't feel like I learned much about the Tea Party itself. It seems to be more about some kind of imagined Conservative Republican Confederate Anti-Abortion Crazy Birther Racist Party. I mean, the Tea Party doesn't actually take a position on abortion does it? The "slavery wasn't so bad" list does not mention Tea and includes several I'm pretty sure aren't in its Party. Almost none of the examples given of crazy American right-wing behaviour are actually about the Tea Party. I'm not surprised to hear that there is lots of overlap between believers in all the various ideas and ideologies referred to, but sotonohito's comment that he knew a couple of Tea Partiers who were also devoted Birthers provides more concrete evidence of that than does TFA. It seems to me like they're a bunch of disparate groups that are all lumped together out of convenience; both their own and that of people writing about them.

Nor does the Tea Party appear to be about resisting social change. They are the ones demanding various changes: Lower taxes, fewer foreign wars, more Constitution, less Government... something like that? It's not as if Obamacare is some kind of momentous change on the order of abolishing slavery or the Civil Rights Act. It's just a conveniently prominent example of something the government has done recently to make noise about.
posted by sfenders at 3:21 PM on August 22, 2014


Bullshit. It is factual, not simplistic. What was it about, if not slavery?

Well you can certainly make a strong case that among a minority of wealthy people in the South it was primarily about slavery, but it very clearly wasn't for anybody else.

Anti-slavery forces were ascendant but not yet at all dominant in the North, and it was more out of anticipation than immediate threat that the Southern elites made their move. That's why the Emancipation Proclamation wasn't issued the day hostilities began, and it's why the movie Lincoln is more than 10 minutes long.

And as TFA lays out, once they got their way the Northerners proved quite willing to look the other way and whistle as their old buddies meticulously built a brand new apparatus of racial subjugation, in compliance with better PR principles. The vocal abolitionist loudmouths got paper and words, the Southern plantations got a new way to secure their cheap labor, the Northern elites got to keep their hands on the levers of power, and everybody was OK with it except the blacks, the poor whites, and the 600,000 people who died in battle.
posted by localroger at 3:25 PM on August 22, 2014


Nor does the Tea Party appear to be about resisting social change. They are the ones demanding various changes: Lower taxes, fewer foreign wars, more Constitution, less Government...

The TP'ers don't regard these as changes, they regard them as rollbacks of bad changes which have already occurred.
posted by localroger at 3:28 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, there are few readings of US history more simplistic than saying that the Civil War was ‘about slavery’. But you know that!

Rather than grapple with the legacy of slavery and the Civil War, we by and large choose to skip past it, to relegate it to a historical footnote, even as we celebrate its cultural legacy. That's why you hear things like, "The war was over economics, not slavery," from otherwise intelligent people. In the mid-19th century, slavery was southern economics. The same applies to arguments that the war was fought in defense of state's rights. Yes—the right to own slaves. It's impossible to maintain any sense of intellectual honesty by framing these issues generally without referencing the particular.

A lot of the historical revisionism one encounters in the South is very similar to that found in Japan with regard to World War 2. People who have never had to, or have trouble, truthfully confronting the worst parts of their past have to find some way to justify it intellectually. Even my dad, an incredibly intelligent and well-read man, isn't immune.
posted by echocollate at 3:35 PM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


Interesting article, but I don't feel like I learned much about the Tea Party itself. It seems to be more about some kind of imagined Conservative Republican Confederate Anti-Abortion Crazy Birther Racist Party. I mean, the Tea Party doesn't actually take a position on abortion does it? The "slavery wasn't so bad" list does not mention Tea and includes several I'm pretty sure aren't in its Party. Almost none of the examples given of crazy American right-wing behaviour are actually about the Tea Party. I'm not surprised to hear that there is lots of overlap between believers in all the various ideas and ideologies referred to, but sotonohito's comment that he knew a couple of Tea Partiers who were also devoted Birthers provides more concrete evidence of that than does TFA. It seems to me like they're a bunch of disparate groups that are all lumped together out of convenience; both their own and that of people writing about them.

You're making the mistake in assuming Tea Party is an actual political party, rather than a largely bought-and-paid-for wing of the current GOP plus the usual racial and sexual revanchists. Those who identify as Tea Partiers are and always have been right-wing conservatives who are largely anti-choice, anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant, and racist:
Our analysis casts doubt on the Tea Party’s “origin story.” Early on, Tea Partiers were often described as nonpartisan political neophytes. Actually, the Tea Party’s supporters today were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born, and were more likely than others to have contacted government officials. In fact, past Republican affiliation is the single strongest predictor of Tea Party support today.

What’s more, contrary to some accounts, the Tea Party is not a creature of the Great Recession. Many Americans have suffered in the last four years, but they are no more likely than anyone else to support the Tea Party. And while the public image of the Tea Party focuses on a desire to shrink government, concern over big government is hardly the only or even the most important predictor of Tea Party support among voters.

So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

More important, they were disproportionately social conservatives in 2006 — opposing abortion, for example — and still are today. Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.
So, no, the Tea Party's opposition to abortion, immigration, and most all social justice isn't "imagined," it's very real. They've cloaked a lot of it in largely hypocritical economic doublespeak that's as bereft of any historical context or accuracy as their views on race or gender or sexuality. Indeed, most of the "good old days" such as the post-war era that they discuss involved much higher taxes and government involvement. Much like the GOP of the last several decades, their "changes" in government extend no further than putting God in it while making sure the poor, women, and minorities know their (lower) place.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:41 PM on August 22, 2014 [10 favorites]


Well you can certainly make a strong case that among a minority of wealthy people in the South it was primarily about slavery, but it very clearly wasn't for anybody else.

Anti-slavery forces were ascendant but not yet at all dominant in the North, and it was more out of anticipation than immediate threat that the Southern elites made their move. That's why the Emancipation Proclamation wasn't issued the day hostilities began, and it's why the movie Lincoln is more than 10 minutes long.
Who exactly is under the impression that the North went to war to end slavery? The North went to war because they were attacked. I mean, I'm sure you can find some people who are only vaguely educated on the Civil War who think that the North went to war to stop slavery, but it's not a real position held by anyone who has any idea what they're talking about. It's pretty much a perfect example of "strawman".

And in fact it's another common refrain that's put forth by people who, it seems to me, wish that the war wasn't about slavery. It's typically put forth immediately after and in response to people explaining that yes, it was about slavery, exactly as it was here. It's a total strawman; it has zero to do with whether or not the war was about slavery. The South started the war, "Northern Aggression" propaganda notwithstanding, and the South definitely was doing this for slavery, and more or less no other reason.
posted by Flunkie at 3:42 PM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]


The North went to war because they were attacked.

And they were attacked because they were preparing to go to war. Both sides spent the year before it broke out furiously building up their war capability.

If the North didn't want a war all they had to do was tell the secessionist states not to let the screen door hit them on the way out. They didn't do that, and slavery was only a very minor part of the reasoning behind that decision.
posted by localroger at 4:08 PM on August 22, 2014


Preparing to go to war is not the same thing as starting a war by attacking someone.

If the South didn't want a war, all they had to do was not attack the North and let the troop build-up on both sides continue, a de-facto single continent cold war.
posted by hippybear at 4:13 PM on August 22, 2014


And who said slavery was more than a very minor part of the reasoning behind the North going to war?

Right, right, "We're seceding over slavery, and you therefore must get out of your erstwhile forts in what we now claim to be our territory, and hey, whaddya know, now we're shooting at you". All very reasonable and very clearly meaning the war was not about slavery.

You know what? It occurs to me that I've had this same ridiculous discussion with you in the past. So, I guess, you want to wish the war wasn't about slavery; feel free. No more from me.
posted by Flunkie at 4:15 PM on August 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


localroger: “If the North didn't want a war all they had to do was tell the secessionist states not to let the screen door hit them on the way out. They didn't do that, and slavery was only a very minor part of the reasoning behind that decision.”

Do we have to have this conversation again? "The South" did not secede. The governments of the southern states are not the southern people. The southern people ratified the Constitution. The governments of the southern states had no right whatsoever to violate the will of the southern people and dissolve the constitution.
posted by koeselitz at 4:20 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


*waiting for the next secession war, where all the states where the general populace voted against same-sex marriage rebel against the Federal Government because they have no choice*
posted by hippybear at 4:33 PM on August 22, 2014


a.k.a. "The War of Homosexual Aggression"
posted by Flunkie at 4:35 PM on August 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


Interesting discussion here.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:01 PM on August 22, 2014


You're making the mistake in assuming Tea Party is an actual political party, rather than a largely bought-and-paid-for wing of the current GOP plus the usual racial and sexual revanchists.

Well, I think maybe it was at some point. I don't entirely buy the part of their "origin story" the NYT highlights, but maybe they did have an origin before they were so thoroughly bought-out, co-opted, and corrupted by two-party politics.

A look at what's currently on the front page of teaparty.org (first TP website to come up on google) does confirm that today at least the branch represented by that website is devoted to some brand of nonsense that maybe even goes beyond what I've seen on Fox News. Roughly 95% of it seems to be about racism, illegal immigrantion, how dangerous muslims are, and Obama. It's all either unrelated to or directly contradictory of the ideals on which the "party" was supposedly founded. As the NYT says, their popularity has declined with this transformation. Whatever power the Tea Party still has came from what it started out as in the early days, not the incoherent mess it is today.
posted by sfenders at 5:24 PM on August 22, 2014


And they were attacked because they were preparing to go to war. Both sides spent the year before it broke out furiously building up their war capability.

Bull. Shit.
When the American Civil War began in April 1861, there were only 16,000 men in the U.S. Army, and of these many Southern officers resigned and joined the Confederate States Army. The U.S. Army consisted of ten regiments of infantry, four of artillery, two of cavalry, two of dragoons, and one of mounted infantry. The regiments were scattered widely. Of the 197 companies in the army, 179 occupied 79 isolated posts in the West, and the remaining 18 manned garrisons east of the Mississippi River, mostly along the Canada–United States border and on the Atlantic coast.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:55 PM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'd just like it if we could discredit the Tea Party-Bircher-Know-nothing brand of politics back to being the kind of thing that respectable people did not reveal so we can keep their paws off the levers of power. Vandals have no place in the discourse of a civilized nation, and I'm not certain why it's tolerated even if it is bankrolled by rich industrialists.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:17 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


"We're seceding over slavery, and you therefore must get out of your erstwhile forts in what we now claim to be our territory, and hey, whaddya know, now we're shooting at you"

There's a Texas seccession email that occasionally makes the rounds that says something like "We have Fort Hood!"

No you don't. You're not going to get to keep that. And all the kids from Conneticut stationed there aren't going to die so you can keep it.
posted by Cyrano at 9:16 PM on August 22, 2014


You're making the mistake in assuming Tea Party is an actual political party, rather than a largely bought-and-paid-for wing of the current GOP plus the usual racial and sexual revanchists.

Don't see how the current GOP gains by having a splitter group in its midst. I suspect the whole thing is just a cunning Democratic dirty trick.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:53 PM on August 23, 2014


Not sure why the Democratic party would create a group to drive the Overton window even further to the right.

The GOP has been courting the evangelicals and crazies for years, and are reaping what they have sown. Unfortunately, their internal politics are one of the reasons we can't have nice things, like a working government.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:33 PM on August 23, 2014


Don't see how the current GOP gains by having a splitter group in its midst.

The point is that they're not splitters, they're just a slick, corporate-backed rebrand of the John Birchers with a bit of added old-timey religion thrown in for the rubes. Most of the Tea Party groups were started by long-time GOP politicians like Dick Armey or consultants like Russo March & Rogers.

I suspect the whole thing is just a cunning Democratic dirty trick.

Oh, please. The GOP has been the home of the racists and pseudo-secessionists for more than half a century now. Just as the Democrats have swings between wings of their party, so does the GOP. Before the Tea Party there were "compassionate conservatives," and before that it was "drowning government in a bathtub," and so on.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:45 PM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


zombieflanders is 100% right, all of the Tea Party's beliefs have been a major part of American conservatism for several decades. Probably since before most commenters here were born. And a bunch of 60-year-old white people didn't wake up in 2009 with a brand-new political philosophy that they had never considered before.

Some of the recent intra-party infighting is somewhat interesting -- always interesting when a political party votes out its own incumbent, or when it nominates someone so extreme that they lose an otherwise winnable seat -- but for the most part the Tea Party is simple rebranding.
posted by leopard at 7:06 PM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, please.

(Oh Jesus Christ.) It was a JOKE!

zombieflanders is 100% right


Very little in life is 100% anything. The author is a mathematician by training and seems to think that he has constructed an elegant proof, which, no doubt, once recognized will advance his goal of bridging conflicts of world view.

Unfortunately (or not), history doesn't work that way. History is not black/white and binary, it is gray. Most people don't like gray. Gray makes them uncomfortable. It blunts their outrage and challenges their self-satisfaction. Nevertheless, it's the way of the real world, and if he intends to continue this new hobby of his and improve that bridge building, he had best recognize that now.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:52 AM on August 24, 2014


Incidentally, for what reason are most of us assuming that this theoretically fully-marginalised 2024 GOP wouldn't just shed all its racist wankers back to where they came from - the Democratic Party?
posted by genghis at 10:37 AM on August 24, 2014


Because, genghis, despite its own differences (best illustrated by the Hillary-Barack split in 2008) the Democrats are much more united than the GOP is now, and it's very unlikely that the TP'ers would be able to divide and conquer it at the primary level the way they have the GOP.

The much greater danger is that the business elites will simply buy their way in when the GOP becomes a bad investment for them. This will leave the racist wankers out in the cold, but it won't be such a good thing for labor or the environment.
posted by localroger at 12:16 PM on August 24, 2014


Wouldn't the GOP have to take positions that would drive the racist wankers away? There was that post-2012 GOP analysis that said they would have to start shifting on immigration to be viable in the future, but the GOP House shot down immigration reform, and every potential 2016 GOP candidate I've noticed has decided to go anti-immigrant. The rebranding doesn't seem to be happening; a marginalized 2024 would be nothing but racist wankers.

/Or were you just looking for a cute way to point out that the Dems used to be the party of southern racism? That hasn't meant much for the last 45 years of elections.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:17 PM on August 24, 2014


The GOP has to inevitably drive someone away, because it's only because its disparate factions are ignoring their many differences that the party is holding together. The racist wankers may end up running the GOP, in which case the business elites and free-market libertarians will bail, and it will be a rump regional party.

Or the business elites may up their game and take back control, but at this point that will drive out the wankers who will probably coalesce into a third party which will take a lot of votes from the GOP heirs apparent even if they can't win a statewide election.

If the business elites bail on the GOP they will most likely come to the Dems, where the Third Way faction has been friendly enough to them already since the Bill Clinton era to give them an entryway. If I was a billionaire I think this would be the preferred outcome.
posted by localroger at 1:29 PM on August 24, 2014


“It's My Party: Why Andrew Johnson Restored The Old South,” Heather Cox Richarson, Boston College Magazine, Summer 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 1:52 PM on August 26, 2014


(see California).

See California, indeed. In the longer term trend, California has no water.
posted by carping demon at 10:34 PM on August 26, 2014


California has plenty of water for people; they just don't have enough water for all the agriculture. And rather stupid water laws that result in people doing things like growing alfalfa for export.
posted by tavella at 4:49 PM on August 28, 2014


« Older "When you hear the chime, it'll be time to turn...   |   Urbanicide Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments