Most discussions about American history eventually touch on the famous Boston Tea Party. Few people truly recall that most of the Tea Partiers disguised themselves as Mohawk indians, you know, the ones with one center strip of hair while the rest of the head remained bald. We laugh at hearing this, it seems so unnecessary, through today’s value system, to conceal ones identify like that. What they did was actually against the laws of the land, all of the hooligans would have surely been put in jail over the affair, had they been caught. Ironically, we admire them for their convictions, despite the “cloak and dagger” tactics.
By contrast, in our times we look at such stealth actions as highly questionable at best, at worst, worthy of full investigations and prison. Equally ironic is the apparent fact that the Tea Party movement of today is slowly being cast as a bunch of hooligans, worthy of jail for their misguided movement against taxation.
At what point did it become a bad thing to side with a movement that wants to keep money in your pocket?
It’s fascinating to study how major ideas and movements get named and even how the images of those names evolve. For example, the earliest reference to those who followed the teachings of Christ were referred too as Christians, much like we understand the term Romans to mean those from Rome. Only later was the term used to more broadly define loyal subjects the government of Rome. It was Romans that really first used the term Christian as a way to label a movement, it was a derogatory term initially, at the very least, a non-flattering label. In the earlier church followers of Christ referred to themselves as “Believers”, not Christians. It would be like a Liberal (politically speaking) calling himself a “tax and spend” Democrat, or a Conservative embracing the tag, “fear mongering” Republican.
So, now we have a modern day populous movement called The Tea Party movement. Although the movement has many conservatives, it is a much broader political movement that includes many politically independent voters and a surprising number of center leaning liberal voters. The movement’s focus is on taxation. One high profile politician attempted to minimize the movement by saying it was not a true ‘grass roots’ cause but an ‘astro turf’ movement instead, suggesting it was not authentic or genuine.
Opponents of the Tea Party movement refer to supporters as ‘tea baggers’, a derogatory term about a sex act between two males. It’s never a smart play to introduce this kind of rankor, history shows these labels often energize people to support the movements (instead of either sitting on the sidelines or being reluctantly against them) when it is determined the slurs are particularly grievous and unfair. It is clear by the results of the mid-terms, the grass roots support for the Tea Party ideals was much greater than anyone predicted.
Curiously, the presence of hardcore Tea Party candidates in congress has incumbent conservatives on edge, the new congressmen and senators clearly won election through a movement not entirely supported by career politicians. Any ugliness that may arise between them can cause veteran politicians problems with reelection later on.
Thanks for reading this far.