Project 21 New Visions

Stacy Swimp

Tea Party is the 21st Century Civil Rights Movement


by Stacy Swimp (bio)

 

Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, told her constituents at a CBC "job fair" that "[t]he real enemy is the Tea Party." Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), another CBC member, said the "Tea Party can go straight to hell." Representative Andre Carson (D-IN), a CBC leader, said the Tea Party "would love to see us as second-class citizens" and "hanging on a tree."

Hateful rhetoric from the CBC — whose members took an oath in Congress to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" — is showing a clear lack of discretion and integrity. It is irresponsible. Most of all, it is simply not true.

Instead of discussing job opportunities, the CBC members were desperately seeking to hide this truth from their constituents: they have betrayed their faithful supporters. They have, in fact, been adversarial to civil rights and the economic stability.

They obviously hope that Americans of African descent don't realize that the Tea Party movement is the 21st century civil rights movement.

Civil rights are constitutional rights. They protect individual freedom from infringement. These rights are solely determined by the principles outlined in the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing the right of all Americans to exercise full citizenship against discrimination and oppression.

Absalom Jones, Frederick Douglass, Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. and countless past civil rights leaders and activists fought for the same principles that tea partiers fight for today: limited government and individual freedom.

The Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision, for example, was based on educational choice. Thurgood Marshall argued that children of African descent deserved access to quality schools and equal opportunity to aspire to American exceptionalism.

Now, children of all ethnicities face discrimination when they are forced to remain in failing schools that often are plagued with violence. Their parents cannot afford private choices enjoyed by the children of the powerful such as Barack Obama and Jesse Jackson, yet these same politicos oppose alternatives for public school families.

By serving the teachers unions, CBC members undermine the spirit of the Brown decision. The Tea Party movement, in contrast, wants that choice. Yet the Tea Party allegedly wants to create "second-class citizens."

It was the Pelosi Congress that defunded the popular Opportunity Scholarship Program in Washington, D.C. that gave disadvantaged kids money to attend private schools. And it was the Boehner Congress that got it reinstituted. That's Tea Party progress.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 sought to help end employment discrimination, protecting Americans of African descent from being excluded from competing in a free-market society. Yet, 45 years later, CBC members voted to extend the Davis-Bacon Act. This law requires federal construction projects to pay a "prevailing wage" originally meant to impede "colored labor… being brought in to demoralize wage rates." Today, Big Labor needs it to assert its control, shortchanging taxpayers and workers (oftentimes minorities) with lesser skills or certifications.

In 2011, when offered a chance to strike this Jim Crow remnant from the U.S. Code, CBC members once again voted overwhelmingly to keep it. The only CBC member to vote against Davis-Bacon was Representative Allen West (R-FL), a Tea Party-backed lawmaker.

Once again, it was the Tea Party in favor of true civil rights.

The struggles of the civil rights era are an inspiration to Tea Party leaders, who now fight for all Americans, regardless of ethnicity.

To cite another example, tea partiers oppose overregulation. Minorities are more disproportionately impacted by draconian regulations on businesses when those regulations force businesses to send jobs overseas, prevent small businesses from starting or expanding and raise consumer prices.

No one stands to benefit from the success of Tea Party activism more than Americans of African descent.

It's frustrating for Tea Party leaders to suffer the indignities of being called racist by the like of the Congressional Black Caucus. But, as Dr. King so eloquently preached: "No lie can live forever."

Those who tell the lie shall reap what they sow. History will remember the Tea Party movement as this era's civil rights crusade.

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Stacy Swimp is a member of the Project 21 black leadership network. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.


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