Schumer is Ignorant and Wrong About the Temperance Movement

Not the Tea Party

Not the Tea Party

Senator Schumer’s op-ed attempts to draw a line connecting the Tea Party and the Temperance movement. It’s probably an idea that he thought was clever because they’re both liquids that people drink and political movements.

The second deep-seated force that fueled the emergence of the tea party is the rapid pace of change in America’s cultural, technological and demographic makeup. Let me draw a historical analogy here to the temperance movement.

In the 1880s the U.S. was a rural country and people were on farms and small towns living a clean life. By 1920, America had been urbanized and diversified because of manufacturing, immigration, and so many other forces. And the cities were a totally different way of life with slums, bars and dance clubs, emerging suburbs and country clubs.

Prohibition was not simply about abolishing alcohol; it was an attempt by rural Americans to pull their country back to an agricultural ideal that was being rapidly replaced by a new cultural and economic order.

Just as the temperance movement at the turn of the last century convinced its millions of followers that if you simply got rid of alcohol, America would almost magically revert back to the American they preferred, the tea party elite have manipulated their millions of grassroots followers to believe the same about government at this moment in time.

You don’t have to know much history to see how the analogy breaks down in the final paragraph. The temperance movement was fighting liquor. The Tea Party is fighting big government.

But without going into the Tea Party issues, which others have already addressed, let’s look at the temperance movement instead.

Senator Schumer is, predictably enough, reciting a revisionist leftist version of American history. Reducing the Temperance movement to reactionary anti-urban and anti-immigrant sentiments is looking at history through a Marxist lens.

This is what happens when your history comes from Howard Zinn instead of actual history.

The idea that the temperance movement was some special American rural reaction doesn’t hold up because it wasn’t an American movement. (Sorry Charlie, it’s not all about America.) It had a far more to do with trends within Christianity at the time than with a rural ideal, which had already come apart.

The temperance movement was also part of a larger multi-pronged attack on social breakdown. The campaigns on liquor are best remembered because of Prohibition, but there were aggressive efforts to raise the age of consent for girls, campaigns against prostitution and for cleanliness. Many of these campaigns were Christian in nature, but would either morph into the left or be taken over by the left.

Schumer is viewing Prohibition as a unique event. It wasn’t. It was the outgrowth of a previous century of social reform and turmoil.

Finally, the American Temperance movement was often associated with a liberal strain of reform, particularly in New England. Some of these people did have a weakness for agrarian utopianism, but that was a general problem for the left until fairly recently when it decided to abandon rural areas and entrench in the cities.

The people most likely to push temperance were exactly the kind of liberal reformers who today go to work as community organizers.

They weren’t the rural gun-clinging Tea Partiers that Charles Schumer imagines them to be. They were anti-slavery, anti-Catholic, pro-Negro, social reformers who fought urban political bosses with vigor, were wealthy, lived in cities, would eventually favor Socialist schemes, opposed immigration and were ahead of their time in gender roles and had a tendency to believe in communication with spirits and the coming of a new age of transcendence.

For all the strange twists and turns that history would take, they were people whom Senator Schumer would recognize quite well.

Let’s look at the example of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union which stood for things such as…

shelters for abused women and children
the eight-hour work day
equal pay for equal work
pure food and drug act
world peace

Not exactly the Tea Party.

  • quousque

    Senator Charles Schumer is first in line for the position Sen. Harry Reid is holding now. He is smart enough to know that his political future is dependent on the 2014 outcome. His recent screeds about Tea Party are just that, laying the groundwork for his own political advancement.

  • Anukem Jihadi

    I think it’s a natural comparison for Schumer to come up with because he’s intoxicated by the fumes of big government.

    He’s basically acknowledged that government is now a stand in narcotic for the masses.

    The tea party “elites” get about as much elite treatment as the constitution.
    Not much.

    One things for sure though, Schumer is not just a schmuck he’s an “elite” schmuck.

  • Tabitha Bliss
  • camp7

    Schumer? The epitome of whats wrong with America? That vile self-serving career bureaucrat degenerate who dictates policy to the American public.

    Where is the tar and feathers of yesteryear? Where are the Patriots of today? That puke should have his hair plugs violently dislodged with contempt, just to emphasis the disgust of breach of public trust. He is a snake in a family of snakes that have coiled themselves together to poison the meaning of liberty.

    “Here’s dirt in your eye
    you s.o.b.
    Schumer the snake
    the devil is he
    Selling the oil of
    socialist cree
    A boot in your ass
    to satisfy me”

  • Les Nessman

    “shelters for abused women and children

    the eight-hour work day

    equal pay for equal work

    pure food and drug act

    world peace

    Not exactly the Tea Party.”

    WTF? A tea party member would not support women’s shelters, the eight hour work day, equal pay for equal work, etc.? Kick me out of the movement, if this is true.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Support and campaign for are different things

    • A Z

      Sometimes a 4 ten hour work days makes more sense than 5 eight hour work days. If we legislate too much, we have too little flexibility.

      • objectivefactsmatter

        Those progs need to move to China and save humanity from the Chinese work ethic. Why are they worried about “gay marriage” if a 5-day work week is so crucial to humanity?

        They’re not racist bigots, are they?

        • A Z

          Are you saying they should be so worried about a 5 day work week that they should prioritize it above all else?

          That is they should not worry about gay marriage until they get the other stuff perfect?

          • objectivefactsmatter

            My point is that if they were consistent in their professed ideologies they would be in China, not here.

  • TpartyDoesntKnowRealMarxists

    I have lived in marxist countries, and I can tell you T partiers one thing. If Schumer and Obama are marxists what should we call real marxists,.. republicans?? May be you guys don’t know the difference between Socialism, communism, marxism,(and different flavors of marxism, which are as different as iced tea and temperance drinks.

    • Anukem Jihadi

      I think the the tea party can safely leave that job to experts like you.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      Dumbass, they are Marxists and Marxist dupes trying to deceive Americans in a thriving (highly productive) liberal society. They are restrained by the US constitution and to a degree by culture. They are waging war against both.

      • Anukem Jihadi

        Generally the difference between a socialist and a Marxist is that a socialist has a lot more of everybody else’s money to play with before it runs out.

  • Gee

    Actually the two movements are exact opposites. The Temperance Movement was in favor of big government legislating their morality and the Tea Party movement to remove big government and their lock grip on the people of the United States

    • objectivefactsmatter


  • objectivefactsmatter

    “Reducing the Temperance movement to reactionary anti-urban and anti-immigrant sentiments is looking at history through a Marxist lens.”

    It’s the only lens they have. They don’t celebrate “diversity” when it comes to analysis.

  • Hard Little Machine

    Well that and the prohibition movement’s close connection to Xenophobia, the KKK, anti Catholic hate, antisemitism, hatred of all immigrants and a weird kind of fascist populism modeled after the ravings of William Jennings Bryan. And of course the fact that the US government couldn’t move until it figured out a way to recover the massive quantity of cash from liquor taxes that literally ran the Federal government until the Federal income tax was created.