Our friendly Tea Party “Patriots” often tell us that they love the constitution. In fact it takes second place only to that timeless book, the Bible–the one God wrote to tell us how to behave. Probing, (as I am always wont to do), I discover that it’s not only the constitution that is revered, but of course the “founding fathers” who, as you know, among other things, brought us the constitution.
That always amuses me ever so much.
Sadly, it seems common to the PayTREEots not to dig too deeply into the mantras they are taught by Fox and people like pseudo-historian David Barton. If they did dig a bit they would find that their adulation is ironic to say the least. Barton of course would have them believe that the FFs were all deeply religious men and that they basically made the Declaration and Constitution tracts which God hopefully would approve of wholeheartedly. The truth of course lies quite a ways left of Mr. Barton’s imaginative ramblings.
We all know that many of the founders of our fair republic were anything but religious in their leanings. Jefferson is notable for his refusal to believe in the truth of any of the bible’s miracle stories, actually editing them out of his personal bible. (You can see his bible with all the little cut-outs somewhere, probably at Monticello). The other giant, Franklin might be defined as a deist at best.
This should not be surprising since all the FF were the rich elites of their day, and were well read. And what they read and what inspired them (oh you must remember this from high school) were the likes of Locke, Rousseau and Voltaire. All were “men of the enlightenment”. You could easily add Isaac Newton and Spinoza to the mix as well. They were men who started to see that the world could be explained through normal observation and reasonable deductive conclusion. Some, like Newton, were men of science, who were uncovering the physical laws that governed the universe.
In all cases, they were the heretics of their day as well, rejecting the church’s claims that the bible was the only resource needed to explain the world. Some professed a belief in God, but not in the traditional sense of their day.
The explosion of new thought spread across Europe and Britain, and eventually to America where it inspired Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and others to reject the “god-given” circumstances of both colonialism and monarchy. They were “enlightened” to perceive the world differently and their place within it differently. They could finally conceive of themselves as in control of their own destinies.
They formed a government based on enlightenment principles of freedom, democracy, and most of all reason as the basis for rule. They ushered in the concepts of capitalism, markets, the scientific method, religious tolerance (read tolerance to practice what YOU believed, or be free to believe nothing). It was a movement based on equality and commonality and shared responsibility.
In effect, they were the liberals of their day. They were the heretics to the religious right with all their talk of reason and science. They brought forth a new type of government.
The conservatives of their day? They were Tories.
It thus is so very ironic to think of Tea Party adherents touting their love and admiration for our Founding Fathers, today. In the time of our founding, such people would have been sending their sons to stand with King George III.
But of course Tea People never think that deeply.
I can see why.
It is just too embarrassing.