This is not my original idea-I am inspired by the rant represented by the link above. The language is mine, the vitriol is mine, but the idea and some of the content comes from the above.
But I read this yesterday, and I've been thinking about it off and on since then, and I still feel this way, so I'm going to go ahead and say it. As always, accusations, questions, comments, threats, veiled insinuations, and theories about my parentage are welcome in the comments.
OF TEMPESTS AND TEAPOTS
The Boston Tea Party, essentially, was petty theft. A bunch of high minded Bostonians decided one night, as a symbolic gesture, they would go onto ships in Boston Harbor, full of tea, which would not be unloaded until Bostonians agreed to pay the King's tax on tea, and dump the tea into the harbor. The tea did not belong to them, of course, so, essentially, they stole it.
Of course, it was more complicated than that. Boston was, of course, an English colony at that time, and England, like the rest of Earth, was run by force, more or less. The government controlled the weapons and the money and the power, and if you didn't like it, that was just tough luck, bucko. If you caused too much trouble for the powers that be, they kicked your door in and beat the crap out of you. It had been this way for approximately ever, and, for those in power, it, admittedly, was a pretty sweet deal.
Now these Bostonians, like Bostonians before and since, were a disputatious lot. (I can say that because I are one, to quote Jeff Foxworthy.) They came up with this radical idea that dammit, if you're going to take my money away in taxes, you should at least ask me first-give me some say, even if it is a tiny, unimportant say, in how it is raised and on what it is spent.
But even that tiny little concession was too much for the powers that be. "You should be happy I'm not kicking your door down," the King said, more or less, and the Bostonians were not soothed by these words. The tea was spilt, and then blood was spilt, and the Revolutionary War was fought, and America was formed.
Now there was more than tea at stake here-I hardly think that, if there had soon been a "Member of Parliament from Massachusetts", that would have been enough for these men. They would have battled again about something-these were disputatious types.
But they were also serious men. At one point (I think it was Adams, but I'm too lazy to check) they said they would pledge "their lives, their fortunes, and their Sacred Honor" to the cause. And they did. Men died, men suffered and spent their savings with no hope of repayment except a wing and a prayer. And, sitting here 200 plus years later, it is easy to forget what a near run thing it was. A few twists of fate here or there, and the whole thing is rolled up and over with-another rebellion against the sensible, sane rule of the King of All England snuffed. These men would literally be executed-Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Knox, Allen, Morgan-as traitors if the war doesn't go their way. So this was not a sure thing, and this was not nothing they were arguing about.
It was a new idea, and, in the history of humankind, these are few and far between. It is an idea that you don't get to be in charge just because your Dad was. You get to be in charge by earning your way there, by the people choosing you to represent them. And, if you piss them off long enough and often enough, you get to be kicked to the curb by them. The idea that everybody counts, and nobody gets left out. While the execution of this idea has been imperfect to say the least, it is this idea that animates our country to this very day.
So why the history lesson?
There are a series of protests being held around in the country called "tea parties" that have been in the news a bit lately. Fueled by part politics, part genuine concern and part pure nuttiness, these "parties" are supposed to "send a message" to the government. I can't really tell what the message is, since so many of the sponsors and founders and media lackeys that are spreading this virus seem to be mad about so many different things, but the general theme seems to be outrage about the deficit we don't have yet because of the money we haven't spent yet. Or something.
My objection to these tea parties is not to argue that they shouldn't be held. One of the most sacred rights that we hold dear is the ability to petition your government for redress of grievances. If you have grievances, by all means-express them. God bless you for it. Knock yourselves out. Petition for redress until you're blue in the face. And seriously-if you have an honest difference of opinion about the direction you think your country is headed in-by all means do something about it. That's why it's great to live here-nobody from the government is going to kick your door in because they don't like your blog post.
So let me be clear-you're a tea party person? Go for it.
But let me just ask you a couple of things.
First of all, have you written your Congressman? Your Senators? Have you written them AGAIN? Have you called them? Have you tried to visit their local office, or if you're near Washington, their Washington office? Besides attending your little pity party that you hope the local news will cover so that maybe Sean Hannity will call you a hero, have you done anything to really express your opinion? Like, with alternative proposals and things, and stuff? Even better yet, have you run for something? Or volunteered for someone who is? The real tea partiers risked their LIVES on a notion that had never worked before, in the entire history of everything. It is insulting for you to call an afternoon in the park a "tea party."
Second of all, just where the hell have you been? When your president said that anyone, anywhere, could be held in prison, forever, on his say so, without ever seeing any judge, violating the most sacred principle in the history of Western law, where were you? Where were you when billions-BILLIONS-of your dollars disappeared into a maze of cost plus contracts and shoddy workmanship that killed American soldiers, or just plain disappeared entirely? When your president lied to you and said that wires would not be tapped, and it turned out that any wire, any where, would be tapped for any reason or no reason at all, and you didn't even have the right to know, where were you? When the surplus disappeared, where were you? When an American city drowned while your president played guitar, where were you? Where were you when the PRESS SECRETARY said Americans had to "watch what they say"? Where were you when Americans who didn't agree with the president were called traitors and cowards and quislings and backstabbers? Where was the outrage then?
Or are you only outraged when Democrats are in power? Only when Rush Limbaugh says it's okay? When it is POSSIBLE-not even actually true yet, but just POSSIBLE-that the tax rate on people much richer than you are might creep up a percent or two? THAT'S when you get upset? When somebody decides that gee, maybe it's a good idea if we hire some of these unemployed people to fix up roads and schools and such, so they can take that money and buy their kids shoes and put tires on their cars and medicine for their arthritis, THAT'S when you get outraged?