Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences
Minutes of the CAAS 1420th Meeting
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
at Usdan University Center at Wesleyan University
Lecture by Elvin Lim, Associate Professor of Government at Wesleyan — “Why The Tea Party of 1773 Achieved More Than The Tea Party of 2012.”
Connecticut Academy Vice President, Professor Peter Frenzel opened the meeting and introduced CAAS president Ernest Kohorn, who welcomed the audience of some 65 participants, including students and 24 of those present stayed for dinner. President Kohorn remarked that the Academy was established 213 years ago and this is its 1420th meeting. He then acknowledged the long service to the Academy Council by Professor Frenzel, who will step down from the Council at the end of this academic year. Wesleyan Librarian Patricia Tully will step into his spot on the Council representing Wesleyan University.
Peter Frenzel then introduced the evening’s speaker, Elvin Lim, Associate Professor of Government at Wesleyan. Professor Lim has published numerous articles on government and political science. His most recent publication is titled The Anti-Intellectual Presidency. His currently in-the-works publication is titled The Lover’s Quarrel and is about American Politics.
With the topic title of Why The Tea Party of 1773 Achieved More Than The Tea Party of 2012, Professor Lim presented his analysis of the two Tea Parties and their differences. The Tea Party of 1773 was formed by people who rebelled against a distant and foreign regime that taxed them without representation. In 2010, the current Tea Party fashioned itself as part of the Republican Party and as The True Defenders of the Constitution, based on a belief in a limited government and relying heavily on the 10th Amendment. Professor Lim pointed out that in aligning themselves as Constitutionalists, they are indeed rebelling against themselves: i.e. We, The People created and instituted the Constitution under which they themselves, the tea Part members, are now running against the congressional members and senators they themselves put into office.
The original intent of the Constitution was a commitment to a Federal Government that would provide for all those things that citizens could not provide for by themselves. As stated before, it was written by We, The People, not I, the Individual. The Tea Party appears to be concerned solely with States’ Rights. They express little faith in “We, the People,” and forget that the Constitution has priorities based in logic and history to support it. The Constitution is about positive liberty. The original structure of checks and balances is a commitment to limited government and states’ rights. The 2012 movement is anti-Federalist and seems to care only about states’ rights. The new Tea Party is attempting to make Washington, DC irrelevant and, ironically, they staged a march on Washington to do so. Martin Luther King’s March on Washington was based on his belief that the Federal Government is the solution to problems. The Tea Party’s March on Washington was to diminish Federal Government and yet they want to operate at the Federal level. Professor Lim pointed out several inconsistencies in the positions and actions of the Tea Party of 2012 and his analysis concluded that this will be the reason for its lack of success.
A spirited and passionate presenter, Professor Lim added a dimension to the current presidential campaign that was well thought out and interestingly presented.