Lexington, Concord, Patrick Henry, George Washington, and John Hancock’s extra-large signature (so the King would be sure to read it); these are icons of our nation. Our heroes, including their actions and documents, are part of the shared treasure that is America’s heritage. And yet, in today’s politics, there is a movement that proposes to co-opt that history for its own purposes. From Glenn Beck mindlessly dressing up as Thomas Paine, to countless YouTube videos, to rallies dominated by muskets and tri-corner hats,to Rick Barber’s unhinged campaign ad, the Tea Party and its adherents are turning our history into a campaign slogan.
To be sure, there is nothing wrong with advocating for a libertarian approach to government (and the drastic reduction in taxes and regulations it supports); it is a perfectly rational argument. There is nothing wrong with advocating for a balanced budget amendment, which can also be rationally argued for. There is no great crime or moral deficiency in being either liberal or conservative. Nor is there any loss in dignity attached to being somewhere in between. The damming moral and ethical component to the Tea Party’s method, is that they seek to deliver a one-sided veiw of our nation’s history with the goal of rationalizing its own political agenda.