[O]ur friends in the Tea Party have offered a helpful clue by naming their movement in honor of the 1773 revolt against tea taxes on that momentous night in Boston Harbor.What a wonderful message of unity on a day in which all Americans, left and right, should be able to reflect on our nation's history with reverence and celebration.
Whether they intend it or not, their name suggests they believe that the current elected government in Washington is as illegitimate as was a distant, unelected monarchy. It implies something fundamentally wrong with taxes themselves or, at the least, that current levels of taxation (the lowest in decades) are dangerously oppressive. And it hints that methods outside the normal political channels are justified in confronting such oppression.
In reality, of course, tea partiers are so named for the symbolism of a tax protest against a government that did nothing to hear their grievances. Historical analogies are always imperfect. It would be as if a major Washington Post columnist decided that modern "progressives" called themselves so because they secretly wanted to enact the policies of early-20th century eugenics, which earlier progressives embraced wholeheartedly.
Memo to the left: tea partiers aren't anarchists. They're not violent revolutionaries. They're not premised on the idea that Barack Obama is somehow an 'illegitimate' president. They're ordinary working Americans who can see the profligate spending of the federal government and want to harken back to a time when states had more power, the federal government had more checks on it, and the federal government wasn't carrying entitlement liabilities that will bring down the economy in the near future if something's not done.