Would today’s Tea Party have Opposed the U.S. Constitution?

David Sehat has an interesting commentary over at the CS Monitor concerning today’s Tea Party and the U.S. Constitution.

┬áThe Federalists wanted a strong central government that could correct the shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation. Men such as Alexander Hamilton sought a powerful central force that could control inter-state commerce and assert direct taxes, something that today’s Tea Party members would certainly have an issue with.

The states-rights, neo-secessionist, small-government ideologues who seem to have taken over the Republican Party might have a coherent political philosophy. But their views align less with the constitutional framers than with their opponents, the Antifederalists.

Those Tea Party members that understand our history, and in particular the Constitutional debate that followed the Convention, would undoubtedly be Antifederalists. Thomas Jefferson is more of a reflection of Today’s Conservatives and especially the Tea Party than is Alexander Hamilton.

My only concern is those who think that the Tea Party participants should be Federalists at heart. Seems they are the ones who are misconstruing history. Today’s Democratic/Left wants a stronger Federal government.

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2 Responses to Would today’s Tea Party have Opposed the U.S. Constitution?

  1. Good analysis Chris, though characterizing as misconstruing is being generous. Moreover, were the founders alive today, those “misconstruing” would no doubt label them “extremists.”

  2. martin says:

    Interesting. It is something that has caused me some consternation as well. In fact, it was the primary motivation for me to start WWTFT. I saw that a lot of the folks that have taken up the mantle of the Founders, while well intentioned, actually know very little about them. There seems to be an implicit assumption that they were of universal accord on everything.

    I knew enough to know that this wasn’t the case, but really wasn’t comfortable about blind adherence and adulation. So, I undertook a self directed course of study (that I am still embarked upon) to see who the Founders were and what they stood for.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that they do indeed deserve our respect and appreciation, but now know that they were a much more complicated lot than many understand or realize.

    IMHO, there are a lot of Tea Party folk (with whom i largely agree, politically) who don’t know the “why”. Ironically, even as they attempt to adopt the Founders as icons of their cause, frequently they are doing so for the wrong reasons! I suspect that they might be more comfortable as anti-Federalists than Federalists in many cases.

    In my limited study it seems to me that both sides bequeathed us the system we have enjoyed for more than 2 centuries. For example, there was enough common ground between Patrick Henry and James Madison for Henry to stop fighting once the issue of the new Constitution was resolved.

    Similarly, people like Roger Sherman and Madison were able to compromise, despite different views on many subjects.

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