Why Neo-Confederate Tea Partiers Need Joe Walsh

Why has Rep. Joe Walsh become one of the faces of the Tea Party movement?

According to author Michael Lind, writing in Salon, it may be because the Tea Party doesn’t want to show its real face: as the latest iteration of white Southern radicalism, which dates all the way back to the Nullification Crisis of 1832, when South Carolina declared it had the right to ignore federal laws.

Lind, who is himself a Texan, points out that 63 percent of Tea Party Caucus members are Southerners. Only 19 percent are Midwesterners. (None are from New England, which is ironic, given the movement’s name.) But, Lind writes, putting congressmen without Southern accents on TV allows the Tea Party to disguise its real origins and motives:

The mainstream media have completely missed the story, by portraying the Tea Party movement in ideological rather than regional terms. Whether by accident or design, the public faces of the Tea Party in the House are Midwesterners -- Minnesota's Michele Bachmann and Joe Walsh of Illinois. But while there may be Tea Party sympathizers throughout the country, in the House of Representatives the Tea Party faction that has used the debt ceiling issue to plunge the nation into crisis is overwhelmingly Southern in its origins.

Lind also points out that it’s a traditional Southern tactic “to extort concession from national majorities by paralyzing or threatening to destroy the United States.” The Civil War began when the South decided to secede rather than accept the election of Abraham Lincoln. In the Tea Party era, Texas Gov. Rick Perry brought up the possibility of seceding from the union “if Washington continues to thumb its nose at the American people” with programs such as the $786 billion stimulus package. Perry is reportedly running for president in 2012, in order to make the United States government acceptable to Texas again.

If Lind’s theory is correct, Walsh is representing Georgia better than he’s representing the Land of Lincoln.

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