The Tea Party’s Trojan Horse

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/3219095756/" target="_blank">Joe Shlabotnik</a> (Creative Commons)

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On Wednesday, a slew of prominent conservatives, including Grover Norquist and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, unveiled the Mount Vernon Statement, a declaration of principlesof conservatives, by conservatives, for conservativesmeant to guide the movement forward. The Mount Vernon Statement wasn’t actually signed at Mount Vernon, and it’s not much of a statement, either: The text could have just as easily been churned out by some sort of “automatic conservative manifesto generator”which, given the slew of conservative manifestos with a 2010 release date, would probably save everyone some time. But while the statement won’t show up in the National Archives any time soon, liberals would be foolish to ignore it.

Here’s why: By embracing the Tea Party’s Founding Fathers meme, it offers a roadmap for how social conservatives plan on piggybacking off of the Tea Party’s success to re-engerize their own base. The structure and message of the Tea Party movement is remarkably similar to that offered for decades by the religious right; they share the same heroes, the same literature (The 5000 Year Leap, for instance), and reverence for the same Founding documents; if it weren’t for the tri-cornered hats, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the two groups apart. Those similarities aren’t lost on social conservative leaders. As Sarah Posner has argued at Religion Dispatches, there are already plenty of indiciations that activists of the Religious Right and Tea Partiers, to the extent that they’re actually distinct from each other, have been increasingly linking arms. (Ralph Reed has been pretty obviously trying to do just that with his new Faith and Freedom Coalition.)

Now, whether that effort will be successful is another story. As Stephanie Mencimer reported for Mother Jones last fall, there’s a generational divide that’s forcing social conservatives to shift their tone and their tactics. And they’re responding—as I’ve noted previously, organizations like Focus on the Family have consciously shifted towards a softer message, downplaying the fire and brimstone of years past. Can social conservatives make their message mesh with Tea Partiers, too?

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Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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