This is a shame because the principles of the Tea Party are extremely valid and worthwhile. The concepts of limited government and individual liberty are founding tenets of the American system which have, unfortunately, been slowly eroded over the years. The recognition of this problem and the desire to prevent the future degradation of this arrangement are these most valuable parts of the movement.
The genesis of this erosion is, however, the real issue to which Berkowitz points. He correctly elucidates the failure of academia to instruct its students in the basic concepts of the American system. He writes:
For the better part of two generations, the best political science departments have concentrated on equipping students with skills for performing empirical research and teaching mathematical models that purport to describe political affairs. Meanwhile, leading history departments have emphasized social history and issues of race, class and gender at the expense of constitutional history, diplomatic history and military history.
Neither professors of political science nor of history have made a priority of instructing students in the founding principles of American constitutional government. Nor have they taught about the contest between the progressive vision and the conservative vision that has characterized American politics since Woodrow Wilson (then a political scientist at Princeton) helped launch the progressive movement in the late 19th century by arguing that the Constitution had become obsolete and hindered democratic reform.
Then there are the proliferating classes in practical ethics and moral reasoning. These expose students to hypothetical conundrums involving individuals in surreal circumstances suddenly facing life and death decisions, or present contentious public policy questions and explore the range of respectable progressive opinions for resolving them. Such exercises may sharpen students' ability to argue. They do little to teach about self-government.Unfortunately, Berkowitz's analysis is all too correct. The fundamental principles and ideals of political science are essentially ignored throughout the country's educational system. Students spend more time analyzing revisionist history through modern progressive lenses than scrutinizing the development and interactions of foundational theories that have made America what it is today.
This is the root cause not only of America's wayward drift but the intense emotionalism of the Tea Party. While many Tea Partiers viscerally understand the deterioration of the country, the deleterious anger and emotion have crowded out the focus on principles that is sorely needed. Blame for this failure does not solely rest on the shoulders of the Tea Party, but rather on the demagogues who, in their quest for political power, drown out the intellectual voices of reason with the war drums of acrimony. There are few leaders who have the desire or ability to push the Tea Party into a rational and productive direction.
What America and the Tea Party need are individuals who can guide the warranted, but unproductive, ire into constructive channels. If academia continues to propagate failed leaders, other avenues should be taken to generate intellectuals schooled in the full history of America. What is important, though, is not the means of reviving these ideas, but the end of having political and thought leaders who can cogently adduce the principles necessary to keep America on the right path. The Tea Party's real worth will be shown if it can generate this revival.