The 1773 Boston Tea Party was a rebellion against British rule that foreshadowed the American Revolution. It was predicated on the resistance of taxation without representation. In other words, colonists resented being taxed by a government of people they didn’t personally elect. The colonists snuck aboard the ships at night to dump the tea into the harbour rather than acquiesce to the tea tax imposed by what was becoming viewed as an increasingly meddling foreign country.
Similar elements are embodied in the core of the modern day Tea Party.
- T hey’re angry (as in Carl Paladino’s campaign rhetoric “I don’t have any specific policies but I’m as pissed off as you are”)
- They feel unrepresented (rightly so)
- They are unsatisfied with the status quo (welcome to the club)
Apparently the Tea Party meme isn’t new. It was tried back in the 1970’s by the LEFT wing. According to the research team at The Rachel Maddow Show, a group of people entertained an idea of a Tea Party that stood for ‘Tax Equity for Americans’ rather than the ‘Taxed Enough Already’ meme displayed at current Tea Party rallies. The primary difference in messaging being one was for equitable taxation and other for less taxation.
Both groups co-opted the Boston Tea Party for their own purposes. How can both sides of the political spectrum claim the same historic ideals under the same banner? Simple. Both sides identified with having their ideology oppressed. That was an overriding characteristic in 1773, 1974, and now, 2010.
So instead of accepting the tenets of a democracy (that a majority decides policy through elected officials), today’s Tea Party is merely a group of sore losers who do not accept the outcome of the democratic process. And we wind up with the insane posse of unqualified candidates that have cropped up on the ultra conservative side. Palin, Paladino, Angle, ‘chickens for checkups’ Lowden, O’Donnell, Ashjian, Miller, Paul; the list keeps getting bigger. They don’t necessarily care about the message as much as they care about getting messengers in the arena.
I’m not even sure if the modern day Tea Party understands the subtle differences between their movement and the original Boston Tea Party. The fact that they missed the negative porno meaning in the term ‘teabagger’ is a testament to their naiveté. They just know it’s a rebellion and they need a cool ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ moment to identify with. And history gets a big Tom Sawyer-like whitewash.