Tea Partiers & anti-democratic ignorance

The fact that GOP and Tea Party candidates can get away with this nonsense — at least to the extent of garnering enough support to force runoff elections, if not to secure GOP nominations — demonstrates the sad state of historical education in this country.

Alabama GOP runoff candidate Rick Barber is running this ad featuring his kooky Tea-Party fantasy of leading George Washington, Sam Adams, and Benjamin Franklin into armed conflict against the United States:

He couldn’t be more off-base on the facts. As David Weigel points out:

He appeals to Washington as the owner of a distillery who “knows how tough it is to run a small business without a tyrannical government on your back.” But President Washington presided over, and approved, the first tax levied by the federal government — the 1791 whiskey tax. When the tax met resistance, he approved the assembling of militias to enforce the law and mobilization of agents to collect the revenue. So the Barber daydream of Washington angrily ordering a “gathering of armies” to oppose a tax is… well, entertaining, I guess.

But I keep coming back to the more basic flaw in this rhetoric: The attempt to identify today’s tax protests with the Colonials’ protest, not against the “tea tax” as such, but against the regime in which such taxes were imposed by a government in which the colonists were denied any representation.

Today, of course, our taxes (which are now at the lowest level since the 1950’s) are enacted by governments which we elect, i.e., in which we do have representation.

The Tea Partiers’ complaint is not against government without representation. They are protesting, rather, against democracy itself, since democracy means that their little minority doesn’t get its way when the majority of voters don’t agree with them.

Photo by: Liz Margerum Senatorial candidate Sharron Angle participates in the GOP debate Friday in Reno. (RGJ)

Consider this, from GOP nominee for U.S. Senate from Nevada, as reported by RGJ.com (a/k/a the Reno Gazette-Journal):

“What is a little bit disconcerting and concerning is the inability for sporting goods stores to keep ammunition in stock,” she said. “That tells me the nation is arming. What are they arming for if it isn’t that they are so distrustful of their government? They’re afraid they’ll have to fight for their liberty in more Second Amendment kinds of ways?

“That’s why I look at this as almost an imperative. If we don’t win at the ballot box, what will be the next step?”

In other words, if the majority of the people vote for their representatives to be people who will not do the bidding of Angle’s minority, then she thinks, I guess, that the historically precedented remedy is for the minority to bear arms, in armed conflict against the democratically-elected government.

I find this anti-democratic rhetoric deplorable. The fact that it gets any traction at all, with any public, is a disgrace to the state of social education in this country.


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