My opinion of the Tea Partiers resembles my opinion of Sarah Palin. I’m not naturally attracted to either, but their critics seem so closed-minded that I’ve become deeply skeptical of any of the charges leveled against them. Case in point is the standard liberal assertion that the Tea Partiers are conspiracy theorists and crypto-racists. John Judis makes the case for that point of view in an essay in the current issue of The New Republic [subscription required].
However, one of Judis’ accusations seems to undercut all of his other arguments. In his words, the Tea Partiers are guilty of “sacralizing the Constitution”:
In Arizona, Tea Party members hand out copies of the Constitution at political meetings the way a missionary group might hand out Bibles. The San Antonio Tea Party group has demanded that politicians sign a “contract with the Constitution”. In speeches, Tea Partiers cite articles and amendments from the Constitution the same way clerics cite Biblical verses. Speaking at the Lakeland Tea Party rally on tax day, Jason Sager said, “You are now able to see the most pressing issue that faces our nation and out society. Do you know what that issue is? We are now witnessing the fundamental breakdown of the Republican form of government that we are guaranteed in Article Four, Section Four of our Constitution.” In typical fashion, Sager did not go on to explain what Article Four, Section Four was. (You can look it up. I had to.)
Critics generally describe Tea Partiers as ignorant. Yet here, Judis seems determined to criticize the Tea Partiers for knowing more about the Constitution than he does. They even hand out free copies!
The comparison of Tea Partiers to evangelicals is quite awkward. There is a certain substance to the criticism leveled at Bible-thumpers from the Bible-Belt. Are we supposed to be concerned about Constitution-thumpers from the Constitution-belt? Apparently. The subtitle of Judis’ article is “The Tea Party menace will not go quietly.”
By the way, here’s the text of Article Four, Section Four, in case you don’t know as much about the Constitution as those stupid Tea Partiers:
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
I admit it. I didn’t know that article either.