Sam Adams and the more radical of his Boston compatriots would, presumably, have been bemused by the image of conservatively-clad Middle Americans recalling the revolutionary acts of December 16, 1773, by meekly clutching tea bags.
But today’s teabaggers will get no condemnation from this quarter.
Nothing about the American experiment is more essential than the right to assemble for the purpose of demanding the redress of grievances. And nothing preserves that right more than its regular exercise – especially by those who are new to the streets.
Beyond the constitutional orthodoxies, there is something rather satisfying about Americans identifying with a radical assault on empire and big business.
The only gripe a serious patriot might have with the teabagging protesters is with their choice of partners.
Instead of embracing exponents of change, the teabaggers invited asked a number of Republican members of Congress who have supported bank bailouts and other no-strings-attached giveaways to Wall Street speculators, free trade policies that empower contemporary variations on the British East India Company and schemes to gamble Social Security on the stock market.
Among speakers scheduled to titillate teabagger rallies are Florida Congressman Ander Crenshaw (appearing in Jacksonville), Arizona Congressman John Shadegg (appearing in Phoenix), North Carolina Congresswoman Susan Myrick (appearing in Charlotte) and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan (appearing in Madison).
All cast the Tory vote for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which gave hundreds of billions of dollars to banks and speculators.
No doubt, Ryan’s the worst hypocrite in the bunch.
The ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee has emerged as the GOPs pointman on “fiscal responsibility” issues. Yet, this Tory legislator played a key role in passing the Wall Street bailout last fall, rallying Republican votes for the measure when sincere conservatives wanted to vote “no” to the $800-billion giveaway with Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders, who said, “rescuing the economy does not mean we have to just give away $700 billion of taxpayer money to the banks,” and Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold, who said, “Taxpayers deserve a plan that puts their concerns ahead of those who got us into this mess.”
Technically, Ryan represents Janesville, Wisconsin, but his real designation ought to be: Paul Ryan, R-Wall Street.
Janesville is, or at least was, a manufacturing town. Yet, Ryan has since his election to the House in 1998 consistently voted for free-trade pacts – including the extension of most-favored nation trading status to China – that have been devastating to the community and others in his southeastern Wisconsin district. How devastating, last winter, the sprawling General Motor plant that had been the community’s top employer for nine decades, was shuttered.
What was Ryan doing in the months before the plant closed? Campaigning for a scheme to gamble Social Security funds on the stock market and gut Medicare and Medicaid. Had Ryan gotten his way, tens of millions of Americans who lost most of their retirement savings when the stock market crashed in the fall would also have lost much of their Social Security safety net. And they would have had an even harder time getting access to medical care.
Fiscally responsible? Not Paul Ryan.
His whole career has been about redistributing wealth upward, rewriting trade rules to favor multinational corporations, robbing the federal treasury to enrich his banking industry benefactors and running up debts to bail out Wall Street.
If Sam Adams had encountered this Tory, they would have tossed him in Boston Harbor with those crates of tea.