THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 516, April 26, 2009
"The stuff that history is made of"
America's "Tea Parties": Fantastic Or Futile?
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
During the week of April 15th, in over 800 cities across America, hundreds of thousands of people gathered to give voice to their opposition to out-of-control spending at all levels of government. These protests sprung from a true "grassroots" movement, as people from all walks of life met at state capitols, city squares, parks and street corners to protest intrusive government.
Now, it's been about ten days since the events. I've had opportunity to watch, read and think about the events and their meaning.
First I want to address the Constitutional issues. The Declaration of Independence speaks of the right of the people to peaceably assemble to seek a redress of their grievances. The First Amendment guarantees the right of free speech.
The dictionary defines "sedition" as any action promoting discontent or rebellion against a government. The Declaration of Independence, US Constitution and Bill of Rights have their bedrock in sedition. Sedition is the oxygen they breathe, so to speak. Without that element of sedition, I dare say that the Revolution of 1776 would not have occurred.
So in cities across America, citizens peaceably yet seditiously assembled. But in many cities, organizers first went humbly to their masters and filed for permits. Permits!! I dare say that the Founders and the patriots of that age did not commit acts of sedition against King George only after they got a permit.
Since when do people protesting an unconstitutional usurpation of power and outright criminal behavior go get permits to gather and speak? Kind of redefines the idea of civil disobedience, doesn't it?
Second come the visual images. I saw people in the most quaint outfits... tri-cornered hats, men in Colonial outfits riding horses like Paul Revere, American flag garments, face painting, and every kind of poster message imaginable. The video clips of the protests were more like a street party than a serious protest. Even if the visual images were edited in a slanted way to make the protestors look ridiculous, you must admit that the editors had plenty of funny looking characters to work with.
Third come the celebrities. Guys like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and opportunistic politicians were key speakers at various locations. The keyword here is "opportunistic." These guys found a parade and jumped out in front of it so it looked like they were leaders.
Fourth, let's talk about the timing of the events. The protests took place on Tax Day, April 15th. Income taxes have been a ruinous, confiscatory theft for decades. Tax day 2009 is a good day to protest. But, where were the protests during the last 25 years? Are the 2009 protests a partisan backlash against the Barack Administration and the now Democratically-controlled Congress? Why didn't these protestors take to the streets when George Bush was in office during the last eight years? How many billions of dollars must a government waste before the citizens take to the streets? Obviously Bush could waste nearly a trillion dollars and not incur the wrath of the populace.
The reasons for the protests are entirely valid. The Federal Government and many state governments are wasting tax dollars at breathtaking levels. They are passing legislation that trashes natural law and rushes America toward totalitarianism. The American economy is in the tank and we are facing years of depression and hyperinflation. It's going to get real ugly real soon.
Here is my final analysis. I do not believe that the politicians at the state and Federal level found any level of threat to their power. People wearing funny clothes and carrying signs are no threat to power. Contrary to recently leaked Homeland Security memos, there's no real threat to Washington... not yet.
When hundreds of thousands of people show up in camouflage, carrying rifles instead of bottled water... Washington will take it seriously. Tyrants fear armed citizens.
When hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously stop paying their income taxes... that will be a protest that gets Washington's attention.
These protests were not fantastic, they were futile.