The Tea Party movement, by its name as well as many of its actions, seem to view themselves as the heirs of the Founders of America opposing Barack Obama as if he were George III.
The founders, 234 years ago as of the day of this writing, put forth a list of their grievances which led to them declaring independence from Great Britain.
The point of this essay is to analyze the list of grievances that led the Founders to take such an extraordinarily bold act, and see if they really can compare themselves to the Founders.
| The Declaration of Independence
|| What It's Like Today
|When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.||The Declaration opens with some of the most memorable words in human history. Perhaps most relevant to a comparison with the Tea Party is that the Founders had suffered for many years under George III's mis-rule, and that George III was a monarch, not subject to election. The Tea Party has only "suffered" under Obama for about eighteen months (as of this writing), in about five months, will have the chance to make major changes in the legislature, and in a little over two years, will have the chance to remove Obama from office completely.
Indeed, perhaps the Founders ultimate complaint with the British Crown was that they were granted no representation in Parliament. (Despite the American tendency to portray George III as an absolute monarch, Great Britain was at least somewhat democratic at the time of the Revolution.) Unless the Tea Party movement consists entirely of citizens of the District of Columbia, they are represented in Congress.|
Assent to Laws
|He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.||Perhaps there's a point to this one, considering the fight between the administration and Arizona over the immigration law.|
Allowing a Legislature
|He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.||There has been no move against allowing the people to have a legislature.|
Location of the Legislature
|He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.||If you really want to stretch matters, Washington, DC is an inconvenient location for much of the country, anyone who's been there in the summer can attest to "uncomfortable", and unusual is in the eye of the beholder, but that's hardly the fault of this administration.|
|He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.||No American legislative body has been dissolved.|
Immigration and State Expansion
|He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.||This is actually a pro-immigration statement. Considering the Tea Party movement is generally anti-immigration, they, if anything, come closer to George III's side.|
Administration of Justice
|He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.||The Tea Party movement would generally favor a weakened judiciary, so again, they take George III's side regarding the first point. Regarding the second point, Obama has made no move against an independent judiciary. The third point, concerning a "multitude of New Offices", may be a valid point for the tea party, as they do generally prefer a small government, and government has grown under Obama.|
|He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.||The US military is entirely authorized via legislation. The resignation/"firing" of General McChrystal proves the military is subordinate to civilian authority. Tea Party supporter Conservapedia attacked the firing.|
|He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:||The closest this comes to even being an issue is American courts referencing foreign laws.|
Quartering and Protection of Troops
|For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:||The quartering of troops is a non-issue in America today. At least on US soil, murders committed by the military would certainly be prosecuted.|
|For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:||The United States is very much a free trader, with the exception of a few embargoes.|
|For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:||Taxes are always an issue in America, but all are passed via legislation, which is consent, even if you didn't vote for the legislator who voted to pass them.|
Trial by Jury
|For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:||For American citizens, trial by jury is guaranteed, and there is no serious movement against it in general. The Tea Party generally sympathizes with arguments that would keep non-Americans charged with terrorist offenses from being given jury trials, and John McCain and Joe Lieberman, two conservative Senators more in line with the Tea Party than not, have proposed taking that right away from American citizens charged with terrorist offenses..|
|For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences||No American has been sent overseas for trials. There is also the issue of extraordinary rendition, which this resembles, but again, the Tea Party largely sympathizes with such measures, at least when used against non-citizens. No serious charge has been made that it has been used on US citizens.|
|For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:||Not even an issue at all.|
Suspension of Governments
|For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.||At best, this could apply to courts overturning laws passed by the States. Certainly an issue, but hardly peculiar to the current time,|
War Against the Citizens
|He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.||Unless you buy into bizarre conspiracy theories, none of this has happened.|
|He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.||The United States government has never hired foreign mercenaries to attack US citizens.|
|He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.||If anyone is inciting insurrection, it's the Tea Party itself. To their credit, they have not encouraged any Indian uprisings.|
We've Been Polite Till Now
|In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.||The Founders point out that they did not view revolution as the first step, but rather their only alternative. The Tea Party started angry.|
|We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.||The Declaration was an amazingly bold statement by the Founders. Note well the moving words, "our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." They knew that they were risking everything, and that, had their revolution failed, they would have been ruined, and quite possibly hanged as traitors. The Tea Party shows no such boldness.|
In short, the Tea Party has nothing on the Founders.
- ↑ http://www.conservapedia.com/index.php?title=Template:Mainpageright&diff=prev&oldid=792807
- ↑ http://www.opencongress.org/articles/view/1715-McCain-and-Lieberman-s-Nightmarish-Detention-Bill