For this weeks travel theme “interior” here are a few photos of the interior of St Peters Basilica in Rome.
Here is my entry for this week’s photo challenge “endurance.” After completing a five-day 39-mile trek through the Andes Mountains I was looking a bit worn out and dirty, as were my hiking boots. The last day of the hike was more challenging due to the fact that it rained over night. It didn’t affect the climb up very much, but it was a steep and muddy descent down the back side of the mountain. As evidenced by the dirty seat of my pants I ended up on my butt a couple of times. But then again our professional guide landed on his three times.
It was a tough decision to choose which adventure photos to use for this weeks photo challenge. I decided to go with a couple from a whitewater rafting trip down the Kicking Horse river in British Columbia, Canada.
The Bloemenmark is Amsterdam’s only remaining floating market. At the market you can find a vast variety of seasonal flowers, plants, pots, herbs and other merchandise, including tulips both real and fake.
Here is a third entry for this weeks photo challenge “edge.” Costa Rica is well-known for its canopy tours. They are located all over the country. Almost all of them are over the tree tops. But the one located at the Hacienda Lodge in the Rincon de la Vieja National Park in the Guanacaste region, is a canopy tour over a canyon. As you prepare to start your tour, you are on a big wooden deck, just like in your backyard. After you are strapped in all you do is lift your feet, drop over the edge and you are off. Immediately your stomach drops as the cable sags a little on your first zip line. When we reached the first platform it was the size of an oversized picnic table which was bolted into the side of the canyon wall, about 300 feet above the canyon floor. We then zipped to our next platform, which you see in this picture. We then had to use the U bolts at hand and foot levels to move along the edge of the canyon wall to get over to the ledge that our guide is standing on. Then came the fun part. You see that rope the guide is holding? Now grab that rope and swing across the canyon to the other side. Then climb up the U bolts to the next platform.
On the surface, it might appear that Theocrats and Libertarians have very little in common. Maybe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the Austrian school of economics was being developed, that was true. But not today. You also have probably never heard of a theocratic libertarian, but I submit this is the type of libertarianism that most Tea Party political leaders and its members practice. However, since the term theocrat describes “a person who believes in a form of government in which God or a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, and the God’s or deity’s laws are interpreted by the ecclesiastical authorities,” it is best not to use this term if you want to appeal to a wider audience in a democratic society. So the Tea Party has chosen to describe themselves as libertarians, generally meaning they believe the Austrian school of economic theory which promotes unregulated free markets with very minimal government intervention, typically meaning government’s role is limited to national defense, property rights protection and enforcement of contracts through the judicial process. But whether or not the Tea Party members describe themselves as just “libertarians”, I will make my case that in reality they are “ theocratic libertarians.” This blending of theocracy with laissez-faire economics is the topic that I want to explore further in this post.
If you spend any time speaking with a person who describes themselves as a Libertarian, the discussion will focus solely on economic issues such as restricting the size of government and its regulatory role in what they believe should be un-fettered free markets. According to David Boaz, the executive vice president of the Cato Institute and author of Libertarianism: A Primer, “Libertarianism is the belief that each person has the right to live his life as he chooses so long as he respects the equal rights of others. Libertarians defend each person’s right to life, liberty, and property. In the libertarian view, voluntary agreement is the gold standard of human relationships. If there is no good reason to forbid something (a good reason being that it violates the rights of others), it should be allowed. Force should be reserved for prohibiting or punishing those who themselves use force, such as murderers, robbers, rapists, kidnappers, and defrauders (who practice a kind of theft). Most people live their own lives by that code of ethics. Libertarians believe that code should be applied consistently, even to the actions of governments, which should be restricted to protecting people from violations of their rights. Governments should not use their powers to censor speech, conscript the young, prohibit voluntary exchanges, steal or “redistribute” property, or interfere in the lives of individuals who are otherwise minding their own business.”
And if you spend any time speaking with a Tea Party person, they will very quickly tell they are not a Republican, but are Libertarians. They will start talking about economic issues, such as: taxation, spending and government over-regulation. However, if they keep talking, many will soon drift into social issues like abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage. So in reality who are these Tea Party members and what is it that they believe? From the surveys that have been done, the Tea party movement is a combination of both economic and religious right conservatives. A Pew Research Center poll found that most people who agree with the religious right also support the Tea Party. But it also found that support for the Tea Party was not necessarily synonymous with support for the religious right. So there are some economic conservatives in the Tea Party that are strictly interested in economic and not social issues. However as David Barton, the chief political correspondent for the Christian Broadcast Network put it, “without the evangelicals the Tea Party movement would not be consequential.” Mr. Barton coined the term “Teavangelicals” to better describe the movement of the combined economic and religious conservatives with its make-up being overwhelmingly white (91.4%), a majority men (57.8%), older than forty-five (63.2%) and overwhelmingly Christian (85%).
If you look at the Tea Party’s support by regions of the country, it should be no surprise that their stronghold is found in the states that were historically the strongholds for the anti-federalists who opposed the adoption of the Constitution, the people who believed that states should be permitted to nullify federal law that they disagree with, the confederates who fought to separate themselves from the United States of America and the segregationists who created a “separate but equal” social structure after the slaves were freed. In a previous series of posts in 2013, titled Civil War 2.0, I looked at the continual argument throughout the nation’s history between the Federalists, who created and supported a strong central government versus the anti-federalists who favored a weak central government with strong state governments and a loose confederation of states. Or in today’s shorthand bumper sticker language, those who favor liberty versus socialism. Not that I agree with this simplistic description for a very complex subject, but they have become shorthand code words for the Tea Party movement. If you do not accept their vision of American politics, it won’t be long before they call you a socialist or worse. In the last part of that series, I focused on how the Tea Party was just the latest incarnation of this anti-federal government historical argument.
Prior to the 2012 elections, there were 59 Tea Party caucus members in the House of Representatives, two-thirds of which were from the states of the old confederacy. After the 2012 elections, the Tea Party caucus membership dropped to 49 but it was still made up of two-thirds from the old confederacy. So the Tea Party is primarily a southern state phenomenon, although it extends into the northern plain states to a somewhat lesser degree. There is no doubt that this attitude can be found in all 50 states, but in the northeast, Midwest, and western portions of the country, it is a fringe minority of the population, while in the south it is the prevailing sentiment and majority opinion. It is not a coincidence that this is the same section of the country that is known as the “Bible Belt.” This is due to the historical crossover and intermingling of southern politics and southern religious beliefs which make this the dominate attitude in the south: where in the north and western portions of the country, the separation of church and state has always been the much more prevalent attitude.
So what are the Tea Party’s core beliefs? There are many self-proclaimed Tea Party organizations, each with a little different emphasis on the movements primary beliefs. Although these groups may put different emphasis on what the movement stands for, they generally agree on the following core beliefs:
1) A constitutionally limited government
2) Fiscal responsibility on taxation and spending
3) Unregulated free markets
4) Opposition to same-sex marriage
5) Opposition to abortion in all or most cases
While those that are on the more economic libertarian wing of the movement say they do not consider the last two to be an important part of the movement, for the more evangelical wing they are a critical component. As David Barton said in his book The Teavangelicals, “the Tea Party libertarians may be vocal and active, but they simply don’t have the numbers if evangelicals stay home.”
A true libertarian, as described by Mr. Boza of the Cato Institute, will not form their opinions based on religious beliefs or the Bible, however their belief in the efficacy of an unregulated free-market as described in the Austrian school of economics is just as “faith based” as are the beliefs of the Evangelicals that the Bible is the literal word of God. Any true economic Libertarian will tell you that religion is a matter for each individual to decide, however I believe that these libertarians have absorbed many of the ideas and language of the evangelicals much more than even they realize.
The best place to start exploring is topic is with former Texas Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul and his son Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), both well-known as Libertarians for their economic policies and who have been leading figures and favorites of the Tea Party movement from the very beginning. In fact, many Ron Paul supporters consider him to be the godfather of the Tea Party movement. Rand Paul was elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, after first defeating the establishment Republican candidate in the Kentucky Republican primaries and is widely considered to be the first elected Tea Party Senator.
Ron Paul is normally portrayed in the mainstream media as a Libertarian, with the implication that this applies to both economic and social issues. His economic libertarianism is well documented and publicized and he is the most well-known voice promoting the Austrian school of economics. But his positions on social issues are not well-known and they certainly cannot be called libertarian. Very few people are aware of the deep connections that he has to the Christian Reconstructionist movement, which I will describe in more detail later.
Rand Paul is portrayed in the media the same way as his father as a Libertarian. But like his father, he too is a staunch creationist and pro-life advocate. To boost his pro-life credentials he has stated on his website that he is 100% pro-life and that he believes it is the duty of the government to protect a life from the moment of conception as a right guaranteed under the Constitution. For this reason he said he introduced the Life at Conception Act on March 14, 2013. At a gala for the American Principles Project, Rand Paul claimed that “Libertarian and liberty doesn’t mean libertine,” implying that libertarianism does not provide a moral compass, so in order for libertarians to lead moral lives and make moral decisions, it needs Christianity. He went on to say “too many of us libertarian means freedom and liberty. But we also see that freedom needs tradition.” and then added: “I don’t see libertarianism as, you can do whatever you want. There is a role for government, there’s a role for family, there’s a role for marriage, there’s a role for the protection of life.” Like his father, Rand Paul’s rhetoric attempts to make Christianity and libertarian economics seem compatible, in order to attract the traditional Evangelical Christian base of the GOP to libertarian Austrian school economic ideas. However unlike his father, Rand is much more guarded and indirect with his language since he still has aspirations to become president.
Looking more closely at Ron Paul’s connections to the Christian Reconstructionist movement will provide a good insight as to how this theological movement has been integrated with and become a main component of the Austrian economic libertarian positions which he promotes and most in the Tea Party have bought into. It is the blending of these two ideas that can best be described as theocratic libertarianism.
It was an article announcing the release of the Ron Paul Curriculum for home-schoolers that caught my attention and is a good point to begin exploring this crossover between the Tea Party’s libertarians and evangelicals wings. The announcement came from Gary North, who was a Ron Paul staffer, speechwriter and long time associate and who is leading figure in both the Christian Reconstruction movement and the home schooling movement. He is also the Director of Curriculum Development for the Ron Paul Curriculum for home-schoolers. In his introductory video of the program, Mr. North outlines the four goal that he and Ron Paul agreed upon for the Curriculum. They are:
1) It should teach the Biblical principle of self-government and personal responsibility, which is also the foundation of the free market economy.
2) It should be based on a detailed study of the history of liberty as well as liberty’s rivals, in Western civilization and the United States.
3) It should provide a thorough understanding of Austrian school economics.
4) It should be an academically rigorous curriculum that is tied to primary source documents —not textbooks. Textbooks are screened by committees. They dumb down the material.
On the surface, to many people these criteria will sound rather benign. However, Mr. North as one of the leading writers and advocates for the Christian Reconstructionist movement, has also said:
So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God. Murder, abortion, and pornography will be illegal. God’s law will be enforced. It will take time. A minority religion cannot do this. Theocracy must flow from the heart of a majority of citizens, just as compulsory education came only after most people had their children in schools of some sort.
The homeschooling movement has been a major component in the effort to create a Bible-based social, political, and religious order ever since a Texas case Leeper v. Arlington ruled that home schools are indeed private schools, thus allowing parents to opt out of the state regulations that required their kids to attend public school.
But just what is Christian Reconstructionism? “Reconstructionism is a theology that arose out of conservative Presbyterianism (Reformed and Orthodox), which proposes that contemporary application of the laws of Old Testament Israel, or “Biblical Law,” is the basis for reconstructing society toward the Kingdom of God on earth” according to Frederick Clarkson, an author and lecturer who has written extensively on right-wing religious groups for decades. In short, it is a movement that believes that America must be reconstructed as a theocracy under biblical law. It is a direct assault on the Enlightenment Principals upon which the Declaration of Independence was drafted, the American Revolution was fought and the United States Constitution was adopted. Implicit in the movement’s name is an acknowledgment that they know America was founded as a secular society because they openly state it must be “reconstructed.”
But how does Christian Reconstructionism tie-in with the libertarian economics of those who are devotees of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism? After all, Ayn Rand was a devout Atheist who despised all religions. She defined the essence of her philosophy as: 1. Metaphysics: Objective Reality, 2. Epistemology: Reason, 3. Ethics: Self-interest, and 4. Politics: Capitalism. With respect to the first three there is virtually no connection between Christian Reconstructionism and Objectivism. However, with the fourth; Politics: Capitalism, the lines begin to blur. Ayn Rand explained “The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.” Christian Reconstructionists have accepted most of this philosophy except for the “complete separation of state and church” and the “master and slaves” relationship, which I will address later. The Rand ideal political-economic system fits nicely with the Austrian school, which theorizes that the subjective choices of individuals underlie all economic phenomenon in what is termed “methodical individualism.”
The connection between the theocracy of Christian Reconstructionism and libertarian economic philosophy is due to the life work of a man named Rousas John (R.J) Rushdoony, who was the seminal leader of Christian Reconstructionist theology in the United States. He also happens to be the father-in-law of Gary North and was the key expert witness in the Leeper v. Arlington case relating to home schooling. Rushdoony, who died in 2001, wrote numerous books, but his 1973 book Institutes of Biblical Law laid the groundwork for today’s version of theocratic libertarianism, which merges the Austrian free-market economic ideology of Ayn Rand with biblical principles. Gary North praised his father-in-law saying, “It was only with the publications written by R. J. Rushdoony, beginning in the early 1960’s that any theologian began to make a serious, systematic, exegetical attempt to link the Bible to the principles of limited civil government and free market economics.” It was Rushdoony who provided the foundation for “biblical capitalism” by claiming that unregulated markets are pure because they are dictated by biblical law. You won’t hear the terms “biblical law” or “biblical capitalism” used in general discussion by Tea Party members, but you will hear sanitized versions that are based on these principles such as: this is a Judeo-Christian nation founded upon biblical principles; the Constitution was divinely inspired; we must take the nation back and return it to its founding principles. The people promoting this revisionist version of American history will often refer to themselves as “strict constructionists” or “constitutional conservatives”, but the underlying philosophy they are promoting is the Christian Reconstructionist theology provided by Rushdoony.
This theology was ready-made for the states of the Old Confederacy. In fact, Rushdoony was a staunch supporter of slavery and unapologetically defended the south’s side of civil war and the segregation that followed. He taught that slavery was biblically justified. In his book Institutes of Biblical Law he stated, “The law here is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so. It both requires that they be dealt with in a godly manner and also that the slave recognize his position and accept it with grace. Socialism, on the contrary, tries to give the slave all the advantages of his security together with the benefits of freedom, and in the process, destroys both the free and the enslaved. The old principle of law, derived from this law, that the welfare recipient cannot exercise the suffrage and related rights of a free citizen, is still valid.”
In other words, if you were a slave suck it up, God meant for you to be a slave. You should not have the right to vote or any other rights of free citizens (read white men) and if you are one of these free citizens advocating for slaves to be freed and have the same rights guaranteed under the Constitution, well then you are a socialist. But this doesn’t apply to everyone because according to Rushdoony, “Christians cannot become slaves voluntarily; they are not to become the slaves of men (I Cor 7:23), nor “entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:2). The road of pseudo-security, of pseudo-liberation in slavery, socialism, and welfarism, is forbidden to the Christian.”
Rushdoony lamented the fact the north won the Civil War and that slavery was eliminated, stating “The Civil War was a triumph for the religion of humanity.” Or as Bill O’Reilly calls it today, secular humanist. If his position wasn’t clear enough, in his book This Independent Republic he made his beliefs about slavery and the outcome of the Civil War very clear when he wrote, “The next great breech [against the Constitution] after the 11th Amendment came when Congress in 1862, by a legislative rather than a constitutional measure, abolished slavery in the territories. Lincoln, in abolishing slavery in the rebellious states, recognized the unconstitutionality of his step, but undertook it nevertheless. The 14th Amendment, illegally ratified, provided grounds for interference of the federal government in the jurisdiction of state governments. These implications of the 14th Amendment were progressively utilized by the Supreme Court shortly after the beginning of the twentieth century, and there began the court’s recession from its conception of America as a Christian country and its development of a thesis of the unitary state. As the court embraced moral relativism as its religious principle, so it established national sovereignty and absolutism as a corollary to its denial of higher law.” So according to Rushdoony, before the Civil War when slavery still existed in America, it was a Christian nation. After slavery was abolished, according to him, this was no longer true. Of course to reach this conclusion he ignores so much of history which is inconvenient to his argument, such as the Treaty of Tripoli, which specifically states in Article 11, “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.” The treaty was ratified by a unanimous vote of the Senate and signed by President John Adams, a devout Christian himself.
But if you reread Rushdoony’s statement about breeching the Constitution very closely you will see the revisionist slight-of-hand he uses to justify his pro-slavery and states rights position which were the economic and religious foundations of the Confederate states upon which they fought the Civil War. First he says “The next great breech [against the Constitution] after the 11th Amendment came when Congress in 1862, by a legislative rather than a constitutional measure, abolished slavery in the territories.” But Article IV, Section 3 states specifically that “The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.” So there was no violation of the Constitution when slavery was legislatively abolished in the territories. Now notice in his next sentence he switches from territories to “rebellious states.” Neither Lincoln nor the Congress abolished slavery in the rebellious states in 1862. In fact, these states had already seceded from the union by that date. It was only after the Civil War, and as a condition of their readmission to the union, were the rebellious states required to give up slavery. So his argument made in support of the Confederate State’s justification for seceding and fighting a war to maintain slavery is based on an entirely false premise that Lincoln had unconstitutionally freed the slaves in those states and it is a very contorted argument to rationalize that the south was fighting on the side of God and true American values because slavery was biblically justified.
Rushdoony theocracy continued to justify the southern states political system of segregation. In his book Institutes of Biblical Law he explained “Segregation or separation is thus a basic principle of Biblical law with respect to religion and morality. Every attempt to destroy this principle is an effort to reduce society to its lowest common denominator. Toleration is the excuse under which this leveling is undertaken, but the concept of toleration conceals a radical intolerance. In the name of toleration, the believer is asked to associate on a common level of total acceptance with the atheist, the pervert, the criminal, and the adherents of other religions as though no differences existed.” In another of his books, The Biblical Philosophy of History, he further stated “In asking for these welfare subsidies, the Negroes are, it must be noted, asking for slavery, for welfarism is a form of slavery, and slavery is a form of welfarism. Welfarism is used to enslave peoples, and to break down the independence of the middle class by confiscatory taxation… In the culture of humanism, excellence must be destroyed to make way for the equality of degradation and failure.”
Does any of this sound vaguely familiar to you? It should. You will hear variations of these arguments coming from right-wing media outlets all the time. On Fox News during the Republican National convention they ran a story called Black Conservatives Explore New Slavery in Obama’s Welfare State. Former presidential hopeful Herman Cain and other black conservatives appear in the documentary ‘Runaway Slave,’ which digs into whether America’s growth in entitlement programs has harmed and even “enslaved” African Americans to a permanent welfare state. But don’t think it is just black conservatives that are making this argument. Listen to some right-wing talk radio, who are mostly white guys, and you will hear the same welfare is the new slavery argument. You even heard it from Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who was in a standoff with the federal government over his cattle grazing on federal land. Mr. Bundy inarticulately said “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.” If you think that Mr. Bundy was just some old crank, Google his comments and see how many conservatives rushed to rationalize or “explain the context” of his statement. It doesn’t really matter if it is coming from black conservatives or white conservatives, if it is said artfully or inarticulately, the underlying philosophy goes back to the theocracy of R.J Rushdoony’s writings. In fact, it is not just the views on slavery and the welfare state that are influenced by Rushdoony, but the entire libertarian, or I should say theocratic libertarianism of the Tea Party that is based on his theocracy.
While Rushdoony was content to remain in the philosophical realm, his son-in-law Gary North was much more interested in bringing this theology into the real world political realm. While working at Rushdoony’s Chalcedon Foundation in the early 1970’s, after already having spent a decade in the American libertarian movement, North was researching the relationship between biblical law and laissez-faire economics. By 1981, in The Journal of Christian Reconstruction, North was proposing the use of stealth tactics, urging “infiltration” of government to help “smooth the transition to Christian political leadership” and that “Christians must begin to organize politically within the present party structure, and they must begin to infiltrate the existing institutional order.” In 1994, Fredrick Clarkson wrote the following passage about Gary North:
Gary North warns against a “premature revolutionary situation,” saying that the public must begin to accept “the judicially binding case laws of the Old Testament before we attempt to tear down judicial institutions that still rely on natural law or public virtue. (I have in mind the US Constitution.)” Thus, radical ideas must be gently and often indirectly infused into their target constituencies and society at large. The vague claim that God and Jesus want Christians to govern society is certainly more appealing than the bloodthirsty notion of justice as “vengeance” advocated by some of the Reconstructionists. The claim that they do not seek to impose a theocracy from the top down–waiting for a time when a majority will have converted and thus want to live under Biblical Law–is consistent with Reconstructionists’ decentralist and anti-state populism, which they often pass off as a form of libertarianism. Even so, there is an inevitable point when the “majority” would impose its will. North bluntly says that one of his first actions would be to “remove legal access to the franchise and to civil offices from those who refuse to become communicant members of Trinitarian churches.” Quick to condemn democracy as the idea that the law is whatever the majority says it is, North et al would be quick to cynically utilize a similar “majority” for a permanent theocratic solution.
Mr. Clarkson went on to explain, “A general outline of what the reconstructed “Kingdom,” or confederation of Biblical theocracies would look like emerges from the large body of Reconstructionist literature. This society would feature a minimal national government, whose main function would be defense by the armed forces. No social services would be provided outside the church, which would be responsible for “health, education, and welfare.” A radically unfettered capitalism (except in so far as it clashed with Biblical Law) would prevail. Society would return to the gold or silver standard or abolish paper money altogether. The public schools would be abolished. Government functions, including taxes, would be primarily at the county level. Women would be relegated primarily to the home and home schools, and would be banned from government.” Does any of this sound vaguely like the rhetoric you hear coming from the Tea Party and conservative Christians in the government? In 2007 Michael McVicar, then a PhD candidate at The Ohio State University, and now an Assistant Professor of Religion at Florida State University, explained that “North believes that the eternal human social institution is the Christian church. In the event of the catastrophic collapse of such transient institutions as the federal government, churches will step into the void left by its implosion.” It would appear that many of the elected Tea Party people in Congress are attempting to create a catastrophic collapse by impeding the basic functions of democratic governance.
In addition to being the Director of Curriculum Development for the Ron Paul Curriculum for home-schoolers, Mr. North is deeply involved in everything Tea Party. You can find his prolific writings on almost every issue that animates the Tea Party movement at his website The Tea Party Economist. The Tea Party’s rise within and control over the Republican Party is the fulfillment of North’s 1981 vision of using stealth tactics and urging “infiltration” of government to help “smooth the transition to Christian political leadership. . . .Christians must begin to organize politically within the present party structure, and they must begin to infiltrate the existing institutional order.” They have successfully infiltrated and are no longer stealth. However, I doubt that many of the rank-in-file in the Tea Party movement, particularly those that consider themselves to be the economic libertarians, have any idea of the theological underpinnings of the movement.
At their core, Tea Party members are nihilist. Their goal is not to govern but rather to dismantle the government. They like to use the term “constitutionally limited government” but in reality their actions are to just prevent government action completely. They have taken as a fundamental truth two of Ronald Reagan’s most famous quotes: “Government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem.” and “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” A question that I have for Tea Party members is, what is it that you expect will replace a democratically elected government if you succeed in causing it to collapse?
Nature abhors a vacuum. Something will always fill the void. In society when a vacuum is created in the system of governance, that political void will be filled by the groundwork that has been laid in the preceding decades. Just as the philosophy of the enlightenment filled the void when the monarchical government fell 1776. The founders established a truly radical system of self-government based on the principles of the enlightenment that had emerged after the dark ages. If our experiment in democratic self-government should collapse, I have laid out an argument that a Christian Reconstructionist Theocracy is the most likely philosophical-political system to fill this vacuum. Ayn Rand understood when she was developing her philosophy of Objectivism that her ideal political-economic system of laissez-faire capitalism needed to have this philosophical basis if it was to replace a mixed-economy based on Keynesian economics. However, her Atheism and general disdain for religion severely limited her philosophy from widespread acceptance. Sure there is a hard-core group of what might be called true Libertarians, but they and their philosophy are not a significant enough force to step into the vacuum that would be created by the collapse of a democratic system of government. R.J Rushdoony and Gary North’s merger of Christian Reconstructionism with laissez-faire capitalism, into what can be called theocratic libertarianism, provides a ready-made philosophy to fill the vacuum.
So those of you who are truly Libertarians or moderate Republicans need to know that you are getting much more than you bargained for if you support the Tea Party movement because you like their economic message, or support the Republican Party because you still believe it is the business-friendly based conservative movement from decades ago. Let me close with one final quote from R.J. Rushdoony, “History has never been dominated by majorities, but only by dedicated minorities who stand unconditionally on their faith.”