Sunday Roast: The Real Boston Tea Party

The Tea Party got its start in 2009, when the Koch brothers-funded, right-wing, big corporation loving, group “Freedom Works” picked up on the silly and selfish rant by Rick Santelli, wherein he called for a “Chicago Tea Party,” due to his opposition to President Obama’s idea to help out homeowners who were in trouble with their mortgages.

Low information voters all over the United States began turning out in droves that summer of 2009 to protest that they were “Taxed Enough Already” and reeling from the dreadful hazard of providing health care to all Americans, delivered hundreds of thousands of teabags to a park near the White House, and were seen sporting hats with teabags stapled to the brims.  They proclaimed themselves “teabaggers,” until the snickers and guffaws caused them to research the term with the Google, and then they retreated to calling themselves “tea partiers.”

They remembered to bring their signs with clever (and usually mis-spelled) tax-related sayings; they gleefully marched with their signs featuring the President as Hitler, an African witch doctor, and the Joker — although what those signs had to do with taxes or health care is still a mystery to me; and they held their Gadsden flags high in the breeze.

What they didn’t remember to do was actually read the history behind the Boston Tea Party.  To put it factually and bluntly, if this were 1770s America, the tea partiers would be loyalists to the British Crown.  What!?

Thom Hartmann explains it clearly in the video above — in case you didn’t remember your grade school history classes (I’m looking at you, teabaggers) — or if you just never knew in the first place.

The real Boston Tea Party was a protest against huge corporate tax cuts for the British East India Company, the largest trans-national corporation then in existence. This corporate tax cut threatened to decimate small Colonial businesses by helping the BEIC pull a Wal-Mart against small entrepreneurial tea shops, and individuals began a revolt that kicked-off a series of events that ended in the creation of The United States of America.

They covered their faces, massed in the streets, and destroyed the property of a giant global corporation. Declaring an end to global trade run by the East India Company that was destroying local economies, this small, masked minority started a revolution with an act of rebellion later called the Boston Tea Party.

Yep, that’s it.  A protest against the King giving a huge tax break to the biggest corporation in existence at the time, which would have the effect of crippling colonial merchants.

No, it was not a protest against excessive personal taxes or taxation of corporations — this is what Freedom Works and the Koch brothers would like us all to believe, and luckily for them, the tea partiers bought it, hook, line, and sinker; and they have happily and diligently worked against their own interests ever since.

This is our daily open thread — Do you think we can find common ground with the tea party, and find a way to work together against our common enemy?


Storm in a Teacup

A guest-post by commenter to TheZoo ~ 5thstate!

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The revolutionary slogan of “No Taxation without Representation” used by participants of the Boston Tea Party was not an honest summation of widespread popular complaint against widespread and genuine oppression but in fact a political theory of interest to the ambitions and economic interests of the privileged colonial class.

The rebellion then became revolution not through spontaneous popular uprising but through collective rational argument against the response to the rebellion, that redefined the nature of government and citizenship, producing after lengthy deliberation quite absent of riot, the Declaration of Independence. (After which of course, the Revolution was on).

The symbolic resurgence in 2009 of “The Tea Party” resembles the original in as much as it too is a scheme developed by a privileged class that is exploiting popular ignorance with emotional hyperbole and the much the same kind of simplistic misrepresentation of reality now, as was the case in 1773.

Now, if the modern day “Tea-Party” were to evolve into a new and more perfect expression of democratic, egalitarian government as did its predecessor, then there would be much to be genuinely excited about—modern US government has strayed far from its founding ideals and could use a major overhaul to better serve the people that empower it, by which it is itself empowered.

But this 21st- Century “Tea Party” surely holds no-such promise and to understand why, it would be useful to first revisit the actual (rather than the imagined) history of the “No Taxation without Representation”-movement that sparked the American Revolution and the founding of the United States.

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