Writing on his blog, Ortez states:
I was having a discussion with a friend about the TEA Party and what it meant to the political landscape of America. My friend was curious why the TEA Party was doing a bad marketing job of integrating folks other than Anglos to their cause....
Then, it dawned on me … this whole time we have been overanalyzing the TEA Party and assumed that their goal was to integrate Americans of all facets of society. What if their goal was not that but the contrary? They do not want to include other people.
The Tea Party movement, Ortez concludes, wants to return to the principles of the Founding Fathers because some of the Founders were slave owners. The Tea Party movement then, is not a reaction to excessive government spending or Washington's power grab; the movement is about returning to the "good old days" when women and minorities knew their "place" and white males dominated.
While Ortez is clutching at imaginary straws, his argument does illustrate my complaint against the Tea Party movement--its lack of a clearly stated, unifying principle. Without the principle of individual rights animating the movement, it is little more than a coalition of individuals fighting against Washington. Despite the movement's repeated references to the Founding Fathers, it--as well as Ortez--remains blind to the true principles of the Founders.
As a student of history I find the romantization of how are founding fathers set up our nation foolish. Our founding fathers were not perfect and they knew this and thus they created a living-breathing document that could change with time.Ortez doesn't tell us exactly what this romatization is, but it is rather clear in his post that he believes the founding of America was about power and privilege, and specifically that of white males. That the Founders clearly stated their principles in the Declaration of Independence--the inalienable right of each individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--is casually dismissed. That the Founders laid the groundwork for the abolition of slavery is unimportant.
That the Founders did not fully apply the principles they advocated is not an indictment on those principles. Nor, for that matter, is it an indictment of the Founders. Given the historical context, to expect more of them is a gross injustice.
What escapes Ortez, and the Tea Party movement, is that the principle of individual rights applies to all individuals. Ortez sees social interaction as a battle between groups to secure political power. The Tea Party movement increasingly sees it in similar terms, with the battle occuring between state governments and Washington. Where Ortez has no problem violating individual rights in the name of "inclusion", the Tea Party movement has no problem violating individual rights in the name of "state's rights".
The fact is, individual rights apply to all individuals, no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. Individual rights are "inclusionary"; the recognition and protection of individual rights limits the powers of Washington (and the states). In other words, the principle of individual rights addresses the stated concerns of Ortez and the Tea Party. It's too bad that neither knows this.