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Abolitionist Movement and the Tea Party‏


abolitionists and tea partyIf you don’t believe that history repeats itself, then you haven’t taken a close look at the stunning similarities between the Abolitionist Movement of 19th century, and today’s Tea Party.

By watching the Tea Party’s struggle to reduce government spending and federal encroachment into individual lives, it’s much easier to imagine the challenges abolitionists faced as they fought to end slavery in America.

And for a student of history, watching it all unfold is absolutely amazing.

So far, I’ve counted eight similarities between the Abolitionist Movement and the Tea Party. The two could have nine things in common, however, the ninth has yet to manifest from the Tea Party, but it could.

The most obvious similarity between both organizations is the labels given to them by the media. Shortly after the Tea Party burst onto the national stage, in 2009, the mainstream media labeled them as “extremists”, “fringe lunatics” and even “anarchists.”

Abolitionists, the extremists of their day, were called “radicals” throughout most of their existence. The very unflattering label was created by the media with the intent of creating negative sentiments towards them. The media also wanted the public to conclude that their cause was completely unreasonable—just like the Tea Party.

Another clear resemblance between the Abolitionist Movement and the Tea Party is that both worked with the Republican Party to achieve their goals. The abolitionists knew that the democrats stood firmly in favor of slavery. The entire country knew it. And the democrats were going to fight to keep it with everything they had—and they did!

The republicans, however, formed itself as the anti-slavery party in 1854. After about 65 years of existence, the Abolitionist Movement finally had a political party it could work with and candidates they could support. In fact, anti-slavery republicans, such as John C. Fremont, the first republican presidential candidate, Senator Charles Sumner, and Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, were called “radical republicans.”

Today, members of congress such as Senator Rand Paul, from Kentucky, Senator Mike Lee,, from Utah, and Senator Ted Cruz, from Texas, are referred to as “Tea Party Republicans.”

Which leads us to another glaring similarity: although both organizations connected with the GOP, the Abolitionist Movement was not fully embraced by the republicans. And neither is the Tea Party.

During the 19th century, the negative media campaign against abolitionists was so effective that the republican leadership initially denied that the abolition of slavery had anything to do with the Civil War. They wanted to separate themselves from the abolitionists so badly that the federal government would not accept black soldiers on the front lines during the first two years of the war. And during the presidential campaign of 1860, Abraham Lincoln did not campaign on the abolition of slavery much to the frustration of people like Frederick Douglass. And it can be argued that Lincoln tried to avoid the topic during the campaign.

And in recent months, Republican U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Tea Party was “nothing but a bunch of bullies.” Republican Congressman Peter King referred to Tea Party as “morons.” And GOP strategist Karl Rove is determined to defeat the Tea Party candidates nationwide.

Apparently, the GOP’s fear of the media is as alive today as it was during the 19th century. At the beginning of the Civil War, the media made the GOP back away from an important plank in its platform—the end of slavery. Today, the media causes the GOP to shrink away from the concept of small and limited government—which is part of its current platform.

Here’s another example: neither the Abolitionist Movement nor the Tea Party ever had centralized leadership. The abolitionists were made up of local organizations, in the north and mid-west, which united to end slavery. They never established any organized national leadership. And neither has the Tea Party.

Another similarity between the two organizations was a belief the United States was in great danger. The abolitionists were primarily made up of Christians that strongly believed that slavery was a terrible sin against God. They also believed that God’s judgment would destroy the United States, if the country did not repent.

The Tea Party firmly believes that mounting federal taxes will not only destroy the freedom of individuals today, but the 17 trillion dollar national debt threatens the lives of their children and grand-children. They believed that the growing debt and tax burden will cause them to have a much lower standard of living led by high taxes, high gasoline prices, and high food prices. They also believe they believe that the country’s current monetary policy is destroying the value of the dollar.

The Abolitionist Movement also fought against a popular mindset and so does the Tea Party. During the 19th century, many white people, especially among the elite, truly believed that white superiority was the natural order of the world. The abolitions fought against this notion. And many believed that the abolitionist’s cause was completely unnatural.

Today, the Tea Party is trying to convince Americans that it’s better to take responsibility for themselves than to pass that responsibility to the government. They’re also trying to persuade an entire nation that’s it’s better to work hard for the things you want rather than have someone give them to you. And most of the people they try to influence believe that they’re entitled to a good life and they shouldn’t have to work for it.

It’s an enormous task, but so was the abolition of slavery.

And finally, both organizations bear a similar likeness by the fact that that the Abolitionist Movement was mainly white and so is the Tea Party. Although the abolitionists were founded and largely maintained by white people, a handful of blacks were always found at every meeting. Obviously, blacks had a great interest in the success of the movement so the reason for their presence was clear.

And many blacks played prominent roles in the movement such as Frederick Douglass, David Ruggles, and Lewis Hayden. Each traveled across the country and rallied support for the movement.

Today, you see a handful of prominent blacks, such as Dr. Ben Carson, Senator Tim Scott, Deneen Borelli, and Herman Cain rallying support for the Tea Party across the country.

The one thing that we saw from the Abolitionist Movement that we haven’t seen from the Tea Party is total victory for their cause. The abolitionists sent like-minded individuals to Washington, D.C. to formerly end slavery by passing the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. And the Tea Party wants to pass a balanced budget amendment to the constitution.

About 75 years passed between the first abolitionist meetings and the passage of the 13th Amendment. If the Tea Party is truly destined for a glorious and historic victory, I don’t think it will take that long. Back then, about 65 years passed before the GOP was created and joined the fight—although reluctantly in too many cases.

But since 2010, the Tea Party, using the GOP as a vehicle, is sending its own representatives to congress after each election. Additionally, the Tea Party can communicate with each other, and voters, much more quickly than their 19th century counterparts.

Add these things together and the Tea Party may not have to wait 75 years to achieve its goal. Additionally, the benefit of 20-20 hindsight makes it clear to everyone, today, that the abolitionists were right. And at some future date, future generations will look back at this period in history and clearly see that the Tea Party is right.

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