Are we in another battle for the soul of America?
The folks driving that big, bright bus make this provocative claim. As Tax Day arrives—the Tea Party Express arrives in Washington D.C., bringing its anti-tax message to the halls of our nation’s capitol. The Tea Party Express is a national bus that started in Harry Reid’s hometown of Searchlight, Nevada. The event was “Showndown at Searchlight,” which we covered earlier in OurValues.
The Express was in Boston yesterday, home of the original Tea Party and inspiration (however misguided) for today’s anti-taxation movement. Between Searchlight and D.C. the Express has stopped in the districts of “some of the worst offenders in Congress who have voted for higher spending, higher taxes, and government intervention in the lives of American families and businesses,” according to the group’s website.
In my opinion, the Express is part farce, part circus, and part serious politics. What strikes me most is its artful rhetoric. Listen, for example, to the words of the leader of the Express tour, quoted by CNN: “We’re in a war for the soul of this country. We need to purge both parties. We need to purge the Democrats of the Marxists and the Republicans of the weaklings.”
Wars over the soul of America have been waged throughout its history. The same language appears again and again at times of tumult and change. The so-called Culture War was framed in the same rhetoric. And we have been fighting such wars from the beginning. But it’s smart political rhetoric to use old metaphors. They stir the collective subconscious and appeal to those who need a label for their anger.
Today’s Tea Party is a part of a long tradition of anti-tax movements in America. It remains to be seen how much effect it will have at the polls. But is sure is fun to watch. What do you make of the Tea Party Express? Are we really having a war over the soul of America?
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