“No Taxation without Representation” was the rallying cry that inspired the founding of America. Over two hundred years later, the same cry has inspired a new kind of revolution: the refounding of America. The modern tea party movement, mirroring its predecessor, unites those Americans who yearn for a government accountable to the governed. Just as in 1773, Americans are rising up against despotic and unyielding authority.
The recurring theme at this year’s tea parties and town hall meetings is that citizens feel frustrated they are not being heard by their elected leaders. Clever and pointed protest signs rise above the large crowds with messages expressing the resentment and disgust that ordinary taxpayers feel towards obdurate elected officials. The fact that the tea parties have been so successful is itself proof that citizens believe that individually they are not heard by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. United in large groups, they hope their voices and opinions will be more loudly and clearly conveyed to seemingly deaf (and dumb) politicians.
At the recent launch of the second Tea Party Express tour, grassroots advocacy organization Americans for Prosperity circulated a petition warning Congress, “Hands Off Our Health Care.” Long lines formed to sign the petition, and as each signature was affixed, almost invariably, there was the accompanying cynical question, “Do you really think they’ll listen to us?” The question evidences a palpable sense of futility. If there is an underlying theme to the tea party movement, it is the profound frustration Americans feel about having no say in their country’s future. They see the taxation but not the representation.
Recognizing the need to address their increasingly disaffected constituents, some daring politicians faced their electors in town hall meetings this past summer. It was the summer of discontent as tempers boiled over and congressmen began to realize the true depth of the ire growing back home.
In the years that led to the War of Independence, Americans grew frustrated that their voices failed to cross the Atlantic to an obstinate government. Like their ancestors, Americans are frustrated that their concerns do not penetrate the Beltway.
It was frustration with an unyielding, heedless and tyrannical government that gave birth to the greatest political document every composed. The Declaration of Independence clearly, succinctly, eloquently expresses the basic purpose of government:
“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.”
In their wisdom, America’s Founders recognized man’s nature to be longsuffering towards government abuse rather than rise up and challenge such abuse. “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.”
However, the Founders’ courage and willingness to sacrifice for their posterity led them to make the immortal decision to create a form of government unknown in world history—a government that produced the freest nation on earth. “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.” Their risk was the world’s gain.
Today, despite an amplified chorus opposing government health care takeover, disastrous cap-and-trade policies, and devastating deficit spending, Congressional leaders seem hell-bent on ramming through their agenda—regardless of public outcry. Indeed, they are so zealous to impose their radical agenda on a resistant public, that they stoop to subterfuge and deceptive parliamentarian tactics—anything to accomplish their goals before they can be held accountable at the ballot box. If there is one thing these politicians rely upon, it is America’s unfortunately short memory come election time.
America was founded as the result of a recalcitrant government that refused to listen to its constituency. Our heritage compels us to stand up for our freedom and make our voices heard. 2010 should be the year America reclaims its voice.