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"The People's Work" (Welcome to the Occupation, Part 2)

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There are also going to be fewer Blacks in Congress and none in the Senate. And, even though this round, the American people succumbed to the best costumed mock-patriotism money can buy and their own twin foibles of greed and racism, like some Lee Atwater style "Southern Strategy" on steroids, the GOP now has the Tea Party label to keep up with. And that flavor won't take long to leave a sour taste in most people's mouths.

Funny thing, those Tea Party "patriots" who claim to be such American History buffs think that it entitles them to wear knee pants in public and toot their own flute as a fashion statement, then censure Jefferson from Texas textbooks as insignificant. Those guys and their legion of propagandists always leave out the fact that Sam Adams and the original "patriot movement" were less a civilized tea party and more of a badass beer bash, a political philosophy based on justifying drunken rowdies rioting at the customs houses while rich smugglers like John Hancock parlayed their personal wealth into the politics of a nation. Sound familiar?

These same Tea Party historians also fail to mention the morning-after disaster the original Tea Party ideals turned out to be, after America emerged from the fog of war, stopped fighting against Britain, and   began fighting amongst ourselves. No matter how much fun these rabble rousers had trashing their British tax masters, once the shooting stopped, the Articles of Confederation government these rebels forged for themselves failed so fantastically it had to be scrapped in less than seven years.

Sure, that's why we remember so little about the Articles of Confederation government and barely keep record of the twelve different guys that briefly were its president--because it sucked so bad it vacuumed itself off the pages of our American Heritage, the history we try to be proud of. In less time than it takes to say "Shay's Rebellion," America went from international inspiration to international embarrassment, a country that preferred to shoot its own soldiers than to pay its own bills.

Under the Articles of Confederation, by design, to ensure that each man might have his liberty, including the right to do wrong, the central government was supposed to be so weak it could never control the states the way England had controlled the colonies. Congress could not regulate trade, no matter what way people wanted to run their business. It could barely create laws, but had no power to enforce them. And best of all, as far as the states' rights crowd was concerned, the new federal government had no power to tax.

A Libertarian's dream, state sovereignty ruled the day. The states all vowed they would treat each other like friends; and friends don't need rules to control the behavior of "friends" right? And friends will always act like friends all the time, right? Wrong.

The businesses of the several states screwed each other over royally, and everyone else for that matter. Citizens labored under petty tyrants in their workplaces and petty tyrannies in their statehouses all across the land. Claiming outrageous taxes, state governments stripped the land and the very homes from returning Revolutionary War heroes to sell it to their real friends, the banks. These were the same Revolutionary War soldiers they had poorly supplied in the war that made our nation and then when that war was over (due to the "no federal taxes" loophole they wrote into the Articles for themselves) they refused to pay the soldiers who had fought for their freedom to own slaves. And these state governments even threw some of our returning soldiers in jail for failing to pay their outlandish state taxes which didn't even meet the interest on the loans we'd taken out to afford to fight our most recent war. And all the while they were claiming to be "Christians" as they did it.

Now if that doesn't have a familiar ring to it, then i'm just beating around the Bush.

But seriously, the chaos goes on. The states didn't treat each other any better either than the soldier who had fought to create them. Intensely independent entities, the states soon fell to throwing tariffs and insults at each other. The roots of later Civil War factionalism were well underway. Most states had had decades to develop sectional hatreds between each other. New England and the Old South depended and despised each other in equal measure. Think of a land where the states weren't at all united, but simply untied, and there is no spell-check that can fix that typo. You have to secure that kind of liberty yourself.

Each state served its own "needs" first, confederates be damned. Speaking of which, the Christian fanatical religious leaders of the time, Tea Partiers one and all, all bullied their own brethren beneath tales of sinners in the hands of an angry god, meanwhile condoning the accelerating annihilation of Indian societies; all the while condemning whole other states' populations as heretics worthy of excommunication because their brand of "Christianity" landed on the wrong side of the Reformation. See, the several states contended not only with their competing business interests, but also with a welter of contentious state religions. Remember, states like Rhode Island and Connecticut were made from good Christians trying to get away from the fanatical Puritans. And Maryland was the only place a Catholic was safe. So much for all that "god of love" business, huh?

And those righteous "Christian" citizens themselves were no bed of roses. Racist, sexist, classist, and violent, their god smiled on as they enslaved Blacks, beat their women like chattel, spent most of their time drunk, and despite declaring that all men are equal, did not even allow their own poor people to vote until 1824. Meanwhile they genocided their way across of a continent.

I don't know about you, but knowing these are the people who brought you the original "Tea Party" makes for a bitter brew. If these are the people Boehner has in mind when he pledges to do "we, the people's" business, it's small wonder their forbearers equally small-minded idea of small government fell apart. Untied things don't hold together very well.

I prefer a different sort of American "we." A "we, the people" who are looking to establish justice, secure some domestic tranquility, and even promote the general welfare. But if our country truly has goals like that, we have to be willing to call ideas like the Articles of Confederation "history." I am banking that the more "old-school" today's Tea Party tries to get, the more blatantly they attempt to institute their own brand of liberty and freedom, the quicker we, the people, will finally choose a form of more perfect union.

--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of AZ.

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http://www.mikelweisser.org/

Recently a Democratic candidate for Arizona's new Congressional District 4, Mikel Weisser has been challenging the right and raising a ruckus since the 1980s. Born the son of a nightclub singer, Mikel Weisser watched anti-war hippies getting beaten (more...)
 
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