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It Began with a Tea Party

The American Revolution began with an act of protest; namely the Boston Tea Party, when those who became American patriots tossed cases of tea into Boston Harbor as an act of defiance. This action spurred on other acts of protest that eventually erupted into the Revolutionary War.

It’s this action that is also motivating the current political environment as Republicans believe they alone can save democracy by continued acts of defiance. Not coincidentally, they named the early actions the Tea Party Movement. It was an attempt by conservative Republicans to eliminate deficit spending, (something they ignored during the Trump administration), reduce the size and influence of the Federal government, oppose immigration, both legal and illegal, and support Second Amendment rights. It was formed to oppose the policies of President Barack Obama, and give rise to a demand for a more powerful state-centered form of government, which was the same goal of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

The Silent Majority

After being elected, Richard Nixon tried to sway public opinion with regard to American intervention in Southeast Asia. He took to the airwaves, where he credited his victory to the “silent majority” that actually supported American actions in Vietnam. Nixon asserted that these were the ones who were also behind his landslide re-election in 1972.

The Tea Party Movement credited this same segment of the population with their overwhelming victory in the 2010 midterms . They claimed their victory as a vox populi against government overreach by a group that would no longer remain silent. While President Obama remained their main target, it was his signature legislation, Obamacare, upon which they set their sights and misplaced outrage.

With the establishment of the Tea Party, they were silent no more.

Religion and Politics

The First Amendment declares there will be a separation of church and state, meaning there can be no state or national religion. That hasn’t stopped religious organizations, particularly those on the right, from attempting to use their members to influence political policies. Prohibition is just one example of religious organizations forcing their moral values on the rest of America.

The Moral Majority is one such group that has attempted to exert its will upon lawmakers. Conservative members of Congress who ran afoul of this group saw themselves out of office as religious zealots supported more malleable candidates. They established their own television network and even had one of their leaders, Pat Robertson, run for president.

It was a group the Tea Party was only too willing to embrace for its political value. They supported the group’s stances on abortion, immigration and homosexuality, which often resulted in violence as they clashed with those who opposed them.

The truth is, the group was neither moral or a majority as a series of sexual scandals and dubious financial dealings tore the membership apart. Their political influence waned as politicians distanced themselves from the immoral behavior of their leaders.

Once the influence of the Moral Majority began to fade, Evangelicals took their place. This group never really went away. In fact, some call it a reconstituted version of the KKK. Their racist values harken to the days of segregation and the antebellum South. They have declared Donald Trump as “being sent by God” with MAGA being the ultimate political weapon. They were heavily involved in the January 6th insurrection, with members even erupting in prayer as they stood at the Speaker’s desk of the House of Representatives.

Their form of radicalized Christian nationalism seeks to make America a Christian nation, with intolerance for Islam and even other forms of Christianity. With the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Evangelicals feel they have “one of their own” on the highest court in the land. They see her as an ally in the fight against abortion and LBTGQ rights, which they view as “sins against God”.

The Founding Fathers never meant for church and state to be a single entity. Yet, the Tea Party opened the door for this decidedly unholy alliance.

After the Tea Party

The Tea Party simply wasn’t radical enough for those on the far right. Enter the Freedom Caucus. These 36 members of the House of Representatives were among the most Conservative congressmen and wholeheartedly supported the policies of Donald Trump without question. They are staunchly anti-vaccine, spreading the false narrative that it infringes upon their personal freedom, while denying those same freedoms to women seeking to exercise their reproductive rights.

Yet all their screaming, shouting, bullying and false bravado wasn’t enough. With Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election, even more radical elements took over. These far right members of Congress support conspiracy theories over facts, including the Big Lie. They spew their hateful rhetoric like toxic fumes, even attacking members of their own party who they view as “not being loyal enough” by casting a vote that goes against what Donald Trump wants.

This is the future of the Republican Party. It started with a Tea Party, and like the last one, threatens to spill over into all-out war as reason takes a holiday and madness takes over.

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