The uber-conservative, anti-tax movement that broke ranks with the Republican establishment a few years back took the name of an event that previewed the American Revolution. They claim to be fighting for America, and some of their darlings include the eloquent Sarah Palin and the penny-pinching Mitch Daniels. Unfortunately for everyone in the present, today’s movement has disregarded the meaning of its namesake and decided to rewrite history.
The story of the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773 has been perverted for the use of conservatives today who feel they are being oppressed by the US government and the taxes that the government levies. The protesters of the Boston Tea Party had many reasons to complain about the English monarchy that ruled them, but specifically they were arguing against the idea of “no taxation without representation.” They were not necessarily against the tax on imported teas, they were against the idea of taxes being put in place without elected officials working with the British government to make sure that there was a fair argument for both sides, or, in one word: representation.
Today, the Tea Party movement prides itself on a commitment to eliminate all taxes and obstructing legislation that they disagree with. They have discarded the true spirit of the Boston Tea Party — participation and compromise in a democratic system — for obstructionism and brinkmanship, for example by circulating and signing a pledge to never raise taxes.
Being against taxes is one thing, but today’s Tea Party has exaggerated the battle to include all hot button social issues too. They also ignore evident facts: tax rates are the lowest in decades, our debt is ballooning, we struggle to provide necessary services to our citizens, and there is no spirit of participation or representation. They stand up and shout about the decline of America while putting in place policies to accelerate that decline. The men who dressed up as native Americans to protest the English monarchy in the name of democracy would be very embarrassed.
The Tea Party is already starting to appear less and less frequently across American media outlets. People have grown tired of electing politicians who go to government only to block what others are doing. That is not how anything gets done. What might have seemed like a valiant ideal of shaking up the political system has quite violently backfired. The American economy remains weak and the American people have the lowest confidence in congress in modern times. It’s called a legislature, because they are supposed to pass laws, not pass around pledges while ruining one of the greatest moments in our common history.