The Tea Party Movement At Five Years: What Has It Accomplished?

The Tea Party Movement reached five years of age in the last few days, and the question is what has been accomplished?

The Tea Party Movement has led to the following:

Complete stalemate and gridlock in both houses of Congress.

The weakening of the power of the Speaker of the House John Boehner to the level it was in 1910 after the “House Revolution” against Speaker Joseph Cannon.

The loss of a potential Senate majority for the Republican Party twice, when it seemed possible.

The undermining of the American economy and America’s image in the world.

The promotion of racism, misogyny, nativism, and hate and confrontation.

The undermining of national government in favor of sectionalism and secession.

The growing inability of President Obama to gain any kind of cooperation from the opposition party, unseen since the time of Andrew Johnson.

The loss of any reasonable civility between the leaders of the Republican Party and the President of the opposition party.

The growing split between the two major political parties in a manner unseen since the Civil War-Reconstruction Era 150 years ago.

The growing personal threats of assassination against President Obama, unseen at this level since the time of Abraham Lincoln.

But there are signs that the American people have had it with the Tea Party Movement in the Congress and in the state governments.

This is a clear cut warning for those promoting this divisiveness and anarchy, that the time for return to civility has arrived, and that if those in government now refuse to see the handwriting on the wall, then they will be repudiated in 2014 and 2016!

The Sectionalism And Regionalism In America’s 50 States

An interesting part of American history and contemporary America is the reality of sectionalism and regionalism in many American states.

One classic example was the case of West Virginia, a breakaway from Virginia of areas of the state that were anti slavery, occurring during the Civil War in 1863. Therefore, the site of John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859, which had been part of Virginia, became probably the most famous site in the new state of West Virginia, and remains a fascinating historic site today, which the author has visited.

But also, there have been desires in many states to have secessionist movements and the creation of new states.

So when observers look at the 50 states, they realize that in many of them, there are real rivalries and divisions, and a different state of mind about politics and the economy.

It is well known that upstate New York has little in common with New York City and Long Island and the counties just north of New York City.

Also, downstate Illinois is totally different in mentality than Chicago.

Central and North Florida are totally alienated from South Florida, and particularly, Miami.

Upper and Western Michigan are a different world than Detroit.

Central and Western Pennsylvania are a world apart from Philadelphia.

Central and Southern New Jersey are vastly different than Northern New Jersey, just across the George Washington Bridge from New York City.

Central and Southern Virginia are another planet from Northern Virginia, which is the Washington DC suburbs.

Central and Southern Ohio are totally different than northeastern Ohio, around Cleveland.

Central and Southern Missouri are a different world than Eastern Missouri, the area of St. Louis.

Texas and California are the best examples of sectionalism and regionalism, particularly with being the second and third largest states in area.

So Texas has the “Panhandle” centered around Lubbock; the area around Dallas and Fort Worth; the capital of Austin in the center of the state; the largest metropolitan area around Houston; and the area around San Antonio and further south to the Mexican border. It could easily be five or more states.

California has the traditional split between north and south, between San Francisco and Los Angeles. But now it is recognized that California also has a gap between East and West, between the coastal areas and the interior areas, with the interior being very different economically, and very much conservative and Republican, as compared to the rest of the state. There has even been a movement to separate interior areas in the south from the rest of the state, creating a 51st state, but the chances of its success are seen as highly unlikely.

The point is that there tends to be stereotyping of our 50 states, labeling them as having a particular economic and political structure, but the reality is much more complicated, and could, some day, lead to the breaking up of a few states, creating a few new additions to the Union!

150 Years After The Civil War, It Is Still Being Fought!

When one studies the Civil War, the most significant event in US History, being commemorated on its 150th Anniversary this year, it makes one realize that the issues being fought then are still being fought today!

Not only is there still sectionalism and regionalism between North and South.

There is still a racial problem, with the South being the area having the most trouble accepting a black President, and therefore, perpetuating the “Birther” Myth, which claims that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.

It is also being fought in the sense that there seems to be no political center in America in recent years, similar to what the situation was before the Civil War.

It is also compared as to the growing influence of evangelical Christianity, which tends to be rigid and unwilling to make any concessions with what they consider the battle between evil and good, and with Biblical language which demonizes the opposition with self righteousness and the sense that compromise is unnecessary and wrong.

It is still part of America today also due to the debate over federal power as compared to the states, and the constant threat of states rights and secession being brandished.

Also, there is the constant debate over the powers of the President to promote his world view, whether Abraham Lincoln then or Barack Obama today.

The parties in control may have switched, with the Republicans replacing the Democrats in the South, but in so many ways, the present party division geographically resembles the North-South split of Lincoln’s time.

The need to escape the same trap of tensions and disagreements in the present and the future is imperative, so we must learn from the Civil War so as to advance the American experiment in freedom and democracy.

This is even more essential because of the major world role now being played by the United States, compared to the insular republic of the mid 19th century.