Sorry, Tea Partiers, You Don't Get All the Founders

Washington, Hamilton would have hated you
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2010 1:48 PM CDT
Sorry Tea Partiers, You Don't Get All The Founders
This famous painting depicts George Washington handing his resignation as Commander in Chief to Congress.   (John Turnbull)

The Tea Party loves to claim solidarity with the founding fathers, as though they’d all endorse the current Republican agenda. (Remember this craziness?) Well, not so fast, says historian Ron Chernow. “The truth is that the disputatious founders—who were revolutionaries, not choir boys—seldom agreed about anything,” he writes in the New York Times. These weren’t “genteel sages,” and they presided over an era “rife with vitriolic polemics and partisan backbiting.”

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison did indeed argue for a limited federal government, and though they formed what is now the Democratic Party, Tea Partiers “can claim legitimate descent” from them. But George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and their party, argued for a liberal reading of the Constitution and a strong federal government. The moral? “No single group should ever presume to claim special ownership of the founding fathers or the Constitution they wrought,” Chernow argues. They are “a sacred part of our common heritage” and should not be “tampered with for partisan purposes.” (More Tea Party stories.)

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