April 17th 2009 Let’s Teabag America

Back in the day, people used to get pissed off at authority figures for good reasons. In the 1770s, when American colonists grew increasingly angry at the British throne for taxing them without representation, they had a good reason: they really had no representation. The contentious issue wasn’t a lack of representation that the colonists wanted; they had none at all. And in general, the British were dicks. So we taught ’em a lesson by throwing a bunch of crates of tea into Boston Harbor. (Oh, and we rebelled, too, but that’s not the important part of this history lesson.)

Fast-forward a couple hundred years to last Wednesday, April 15th, when conservatives all across America held “tea parties” to protest government taxation and decry Obama’s “socialist” policies. (I wonder if Bernie Sanders, a real socialist, ever feels frustrated that he’s never mentioned in such criticism.) Protesters chanted the same mantra of “no taxation without representation” from the old days while hoisting signs depicting President Obama in various guises ranging from a king to a Nazi. Frankly, I’m offended. Offended, and shocked. First of all, I’m disappointed that right-wingers have co-opted the bread and butter of liberals—the passionate protest—to advance their own agenda (that’s our idea, guys—patent pending!). And I’m shocked that so many conservatives don’t seem to realize they have the right to vote, so they aren’t being taxed without representation. Unlike our forefathers who, you know, actually didn’t have any representation.

But mostly I’m just confused. These protesters clearly hate dictators and dictatorships. But if they hate dictators so much, where were they the last eight years, when Bush was authorizing torture in violation of the Geneva Convention, enabling the NSA to spy on Americans, and signing statements that he refused to execute the laws of the United States (which just happens to be the one and only duty of the executive branch). There’s no doubt that Bush put the dick in dictatorial.

In the last eight years, we’ve lived under a motto of “you’re either with us, or against us.” Anyone who didn’t support the president completely was “unpatriotic”. But eight years later, the same people who considered the Dixie Chicks to be traitors are suggesting that Texas should secede from the United States. How’s that for unconditional patriotism?

It would be melodramatic to claim that our country is in dire straits, but there’s no doubt we’re experiencing tough times. In the last eight years, the Republicans’ Second Coming of Reagan not only ran up a huge budget deficit (I know, I know, I’m surprised that fiscal conservatives were so liberal with the federal budget, too), but started two foreign wars. Someone needs to tell these Young Republicans that we’ve got to pay for this mess somehow.

Speaking of Young Republicans, I haven’t been to my alma mater, Bucknell University, in a few months, but I wish I had been there on Wednesday, to see if everyone’s favorite student political action group, the infamous BUCC, put on their own tea party. I hope they did, because otherwise, they’re really letting me down. The antics of the BUCC provided me with four years of amusement (and plenty of bathroom reading) during my undergrad years. In fact, I’m not convinced that the BUCC is a conservative organization. I suspect the BUCC is secretly comprised of liberals who, taking a cue from Stephen Colbert, have gained support for their left-wing causes by casting conservatives as ridiculous, petty, overprivileged rich kids.

I’m glad to see Americans exercising their right to public protest, but I see a bit of hypocrisy in the fact that the conservatives who have lambasted liberals for being “unpatriotic” are referring to Obama as a “fascist” and hoisting depictions of Obama as Hitler. I can’t help but wonder where they’ve been the past eight years.