This lesson could be used in a government/civics course or a U.S. history course during a unit on the 1970s. Grade levels 11 and 12.
Common Core Standards: Reading standards for literacy in history/social studies 6-12. For grades 11-12: standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9.
Readings/Resources: HNN backgrounder with reading guide (assigned for first day); The Century: The 1970s, by ABC News (segment on busing—teacher must acquire); YouTube videos: Tea Party, Proposition 13; Teacher Background sheet; excerpt, The New Right, by Richard Viguerie, with reading guide; slide on the 70s conservative backlash; relevant section(s) of a U.S. history textbook
Knowledge of the character of the Tea Party and factors leading to the emergence of the New Right and the Tea Party
Knowledge of how to distinguish left-wing from right-wing, with an emphasis on conservatism
Understanding of historical comparison, focusing on conservatism and differences and similarities between the Tea Party of 2009 to the present and the New Right of the 1970s
Understanding of the relationship between historical context and political expression
Ability to compare the Tea Party and the New Right and draw substantive conclusions
1. Bell ringer: Watch video clip on the Tea Party, followed by introductory questions:
How do you respond to the Tea Party supporters in the video?
Did you see examples of the information in the backgrounder?
2. Check for prior knowledge, survey class for grasp of left vs. right (www.politicalcompass.org is useful). Have the class discuss the Tea Party knowledge sheet, completed for class.
3. The 1970s and the New Right (See teacher background sheet on the ‘70s):
Essential question: To what extent is the Tea Party consistent with the politics of the NewRight?
The instructor leads a discussion of developments during the 1970s related to the emergence of the New Right. The segment on busing from The Century could introduce the discussion. Lesson includes a slide on the ‘70s backlash.
Watch YouTube clip on Proposition 13 (six minutes)
Explore with the class similarities between the anti-government sentiments of the Tea Party supporters and the anti-tax convictions of Californians as the Prop 13 movement was growing. What differences do they detect?
Assign the Viguerie excerpt and reading guide for the next day.
Organize groups in which students discuss their responses to the reading guide for the Viguerie document. They should compare their responses, discuss differences, and make brief presentations to the class. Each presentation should devote the bulk of its time to the final comparisons (#7), including a clear thesis on degree of difference supported by specific evidence. Students should then discuss and debate their differences, guided by the instructor to ensure reliance on specific evidence, logical argumentation, etc.
5. Summary/enrichment: A written assignment in which students lay out their comparisons of the historical contexts, with thesis and specific evidence.
Departing question: How can the contemporary historical context explain the differences between the New Right and the Tea Party?