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Why liberals don't get the Tea Party movement

Tea Partiers are standing up for a commitment to limited government that begins with the Founders, says Peter Berkowitz in the WSJ. Do progressives not know their history?

"Highly educated people say the darndest things," says Peter Berkowitz in The Wall Street Journal. Consider the nonsense self-satisfied smarties spout about the Tea Party movement. In April, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman insisted the protest movement was "AstroTurf," not a spontaneous grassroots outpouring of anger at Big Government spending. Later critics dismissed Tea Partiers as leaderless rabble afflicted with an anti-government delirium that once caused the Anti-Federalists to oppose the Constitution because they thought it concentrated too much authority in Washington. But the Tea Party's "devotion to limited government" is not some crackpot belief concocted by a bunch of "clowns, kooks, and creeps" — it's a conviction our nation's founders shared. And the Tea Party's liberal detractors would see that if our universities hadn't given up teaching the history of American constitutional government decades ago. Here, an excerpt:

The devotion to limited government lies at the heart of the American experiment in liberal democracy. The Federalists who won ratification of the Constitution — most notably Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay — shared with their Anti-Federalist opponents the view that centralized power presented a formidable and abiding threat to the individual liberty that it was government's primary task to secure. They differed over how to deal with the threat...

The Tea Party movement's focus on keeping government within bounds and answerable to the people reflects the devotion to limited government embodied in the Constitution. One reason this is poorly understood among our best educated citizens is that American politics is poorly taught at the universities that credentialed them. ... Our universities have produced two generations of highly educated people who seem unable to recognize the spirited defense of fundamental American principles, even when it takes place for more than a year and a half right in front of their noses.

Read the full article at The Wall Street Journal.

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