No Tea Time

November 13, 2013

Pseudo-historian and religious-political activist David Barton recently garnered buzz as Tea Party activists urged him to run next year for the U.S. Senate in Texas against Republican Senator John Cornyn. Barton, who has served in Republican leadership positions, is best known for making stuff up about U.S. founders as he pushes his belief that the U.S. should be a "Christian nation." I have reported on some of his antics for Ethics Daily, including his opposition to taking action on global warming (here), his leadership role in changing standards for public school history textbooks in Texas (here and here), and his religious-political campaigning for Republicans during the 2012 campaign (here and here). A former Vice Chairman of the Texas Republican Party who has been close to many national Republican leaders, Barton would have mounted a strong challenge to Cornyn, although many scholars familiar with Texas politics publicly doubted he could come close to winning. Perhaps realizing his brand would be hurt by a big loss, Barton announced last week on Glenn Beck's radio program that he would not run. It is good he will not gain a bigger platform, but it would have been nice to see him seriously crushed at the ballot box.

As Barton said he would pass on running, he pledged to remain focused on his more important goal of "education." By this, of course, he means misinforming people. After all, Barton famously had to admit he had falsely attributed quotations to some of America's founders, and his most recent book was pulled by prominent Christian publishing house Thomas Nelson due to numerous historical errors (the book was ironically titled Jefferson Lies). Although he will not run for the U.S. Senate, Barton will unfortunately continue to hold strong sway with many Republicans in mostly behind-the-scenes ways. Interestingly, Barton's decision not to run came the day after the Tea Party experienced major electoral setbacks across the nation as Democrats beat Tea Party favorites who mixed religion and politics like Barton in the purple state of Virginia (Ken Cuccinelli and E.W. Jackson), a non-Tea Party Republican soared to reelection in the blue state of New Jersey (Chris Christie), and a non-Tea Party Republican won a U.S. congressional runoff in Alabama over a Tea Party candidate (Bradley Byrne over Dean Young). Hopefully these signs suggest the influence of Barton and his allies may be waning.