On December 16, 1773, a group of colonists known as the Sons of Liberty boarded three English ships at Massachusetts’ Griffin Wharf. They pulled over 90,000 lbs of tea from the ships’ cargo holds and threw it into Boston Harbor in a symbolic act of protest that history would remember as the Boston Tea Party.
The Tea Party was a key step in the course from resistance to revolution in the American colonies. Less than a year after the event, the First Continental Congress presented the colonies’ British hegemons with a united American opposition — and, less than a year after that, the Revolutionary War began and the Second Continental Congress, which would adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, went into session.
In 2009, when discretionary budget totals and annual deficit projections in the trillions of dollars are being bandied by an administration that speaks as though wasting that amount of money were a commonplace undertaking, those ruggedly individualistic, fiscally responsible Americans who have quietly suffered the effects of the government expansion and waste imposed by Presidents Franklin Roosevelt (New Deal) and Lyndon Johnson (Great Society), and who have witnessed the sullying of Ronald Reagan’s economic reputation, have decided to suffer in silence no more.
Fourteen years after Boston, America’s Constitutional Convention met to draft and ratify the document which governs our nation to this very day. Now, with many viewing our founding document and the principles it espouses, and upon which this nation was built, as being under attack, the memory of the Tea Party resistance has been resurrected and is being put into practice around America.
This Wednesday, tens of thousands of people across the country will join together in a protest years in the making, as a silent majority that quietly seethed through the Bush 41, Clinton, and Bush 43 years of fiscal irresponsibility and expanded government entitlements has been moved to action through the previously unimaginable profligacy of President Barack Obama’s administration. These protests are driven by the common sentiment that our nation’s government is already too big and too expensive to operate, that it acts too punitively toward those who work for success, and that it has increased its regulatory footprint far beyond an acceptable level — and that the current administration’s policies will only exacerbate that situation.
In Georgia, the tea party movement has been driven by ordinary citizens whose outrage at Obama’s effort to turn the ship of state hard to port has turned them into grassroots activists.
However, the resistance to government waste here in the Peach State has not been focused only on Obama and his Democratic Congress. Discontent with the fiscal and regulatory environment that helped contribute to Georgia’s $3 billion FY09 budget deficit and its 9% unemployment rate have caused Atlanta to be as big a target of Georgia’s tea party movement as Washington — and that resistance hasn’t been limited to laypersons.
Feeding on the public’s discontent with the fiscal climate within the Peach State, one state representative, Bob Smith (R-Watkinsville), has proposed legislation to convene a new state constitutional convention for the express purpose of scrapping and rewriting Georgia’s labyrinthine tax code via constitutional amendment.
Smith’s legislation provides “for the holding of a convention of the people of Georgia for the purpose of proposing amendments to the constitution of this state relating to state and local taxation and finance.”
Smith hopes these modern-day tea parties, which are being held at nineteen separate locations in Georgia alone, will help build popular momentum for tax reform in the Peach State and will motivate Georgians to become directly involved in managing and reforming their government’s revenue-generating efforts.
In their pursuit of this goal, Representative Smith and the Georgia tea party movement are representative of the tea party movement as a whole. After eight years of enduring the Left’s claim that dissent and protest are “the highest form of patriotism,” America’s previously silent majority is taking to the streets and to the steps of state capitols, city halls, and universities across the country and making their voices heard.
The nationwide tax day tea parties are just the beginning, of course. Promoting and provoking real change — not canned slogans and tired old leftist policies — will take prolonged effort and teamwork by the fiscally responsible majority in this country. However, the combination of the initial tea party protests on February 27 and the tax day tea parties today should make for a very solid start to a nationwide reform movement.
At the very least, after today, those in our state capitols and in Washington will no longer be able to claim they haven’t heard the will of America’s majority, which is to rein in runaway spending, lower excessively confiscatory taxes, and reduce government penalization of the individual success that made this country possible.
Nobody should be surprised to hear America’s citizens calling for this. After all, it is quite simply what this great country was built on.