Tea Party Diversity Day

There was a Tea Party Rally in Philadelphia today in which organizers had hoped to show how diverse their group is in hopes of reducing accusations of racism.  They had a very diverse group of white conservatives, but few others.

While not all conservatives and Republicans are racist, racism has always been a major influence on the right and non-racist Tea Party members would be rather naive to believe they are not surrounded by racists at the rallies. However it is also worth mentioning that a few factors might actually lead to others over-estimating the influence of racism.

Many of their views can be motivated by both racist and non-racist beliefs. There really were some conservatives who opposed 1964 civil rights legislation based on a small-government as opposed to a racist philosophy. Of course many, such as Barry Goldwater, later recognized that the type of racism which was endemic in the south was not compatible with a belief in individual liberty and admitted they were wrong.

Another tricky issue is the belief in states’ rights. Personally I fail to see the logic in advocating states’ rights out of any belief in liberty. I’m far more concerned about concentrating on which governmental acts to limit, regardless of level, than about which level of government is involved. States’ rights has historically been used to justify reductions in civil liberties, along with allowing racial discrimination. However, on the extremes of the right wing I do believe there are some people who do have a philosophical identification with states’ rights which is independent of racism.

I think the biggest reason that people might over-estimate the amount of racism in the Tea Parties is due to trying to come up with some explanation for their views. They hold so many views which are counter to fact that many people cannot believe that the reasons they state are the real motivation for their positions. This leads many to conclude that their views are primarily motivated by opposition to a black president. While having a black man in the white house has certainly stirred up many parts of right wing, it is also likely that they would hold many of the same political positions regardless of which Democrat was in the White House.

The modern right wing is essentially an authoritarian movement which blindly follows the propaganda of their leaders (even with Tea Parties where the leadership is ideological as opposed to organizational). There is one characteristic which defines the modern right wing even more than racism–ignorance. You don’t have to be a racist to hold the views held by the Tea Parties, although it definitely does help.

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  1. 1
    Joe Revolution says:

    » Tea Party Diversity Day Liberal Values: Another tricky issue is the belief in states' rights. Personally I fail … http://bit.ly/9EP4FT

  2. 2
    Frank Lynch says:

    Personally I fail to see the logic in advocating states’ rights out of any belief in liberty.

    If by liberty you mean individual liberty I partially agree. But when the union was formed, it was formed with a presumption that states would retain some degree of liberty and self-determination. And as for my partial disagreement on individual liberty, the argument is that when decisions are made by a centralized, federal government (rather than a state government) they aren’t sufficiently sensitive to the different desires of citizens in different states. And in a “one man one vote” world, the possibly unique desires of a Rhode Island can get overruled by a California.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:


    The support for a certain degree of autonomy for the states is the case I was referring to where there are conservatives who might support states’ rights without necessarily having racist beliefs.

    Theoretically it is possible that California could use its greater votes to restrict the liberties of the people of Rhode Island, but this is not likely to be a major issue. The interests of the people of Rhode Island (to the degree people share interests with others in their state or region) are likely to be similar to those in other states in the east, making it less likely that the people of Rhode Island will become victims. On the other hand we have seen real cases of the will of the majority restricting the rights of the minority occur under state governments.

    I’d still rather concentrate on limiting the powers of government and defending individual liberty in general as opposed to concentrating on what level, especially as many states rights advocates would also weaken individual liberty on a state level.

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