Jesse Jackson said Thursday that the Tea Party’s beliefs are reminiscent of those that opposed federally mandated integration in the civil rights era.
“The Tea Party is not new,” Jackson said at a luncheon honoring civil rights leaders in Washington on Thursday, according to USA Today. “It’s just a new name for an old game.”
Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips responded to Jackson by saying this an attempt to use racism charges to dismiss the validity of the Tea Party’s message.
Writing for Colorlines.com in April, Dorian Warren, a professor specializing in the study of inequality and American politics at Columbia University, made a similar point to Jesse’s. He wrote that the Tea Party’s discussion over the size of government is a Trojan Horse.
Concern over the size of the federal government has been a rhetorical Trojan Horse for conservatives for centuries. The origins of the American right’s hostility to the national government can be found in our young republic’s conflict over the institution of racialized slavery. The debate over whether slavery could exist or expand was the defining conflict in American politics from the founding, and its legacy has continued to shape our political discourse ever since….
So the next time you hear the tea party right arguing for “limited government” and “fiscal responsibility” aimed at reducing the budget deficit, do not be deceived. If conservatives were really concerned, on principle, about the national debt, their silence wouldn’t have been so deafening over the first decade of the 21st century, when George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich and war-making exploded the deficit. Remember that they are the direct political descendants of those who opposed government’s role in ending Jim Crow, and the ideological grandchildren of southerners who fought a war to protect the institution of racial slavery. That is the political genealogy of the right’s current rhetoric around the purpose and size of the federal government.