TEA Parties and Secession

The TEA Party movement in America claims it is “Taxed Enough Already,” but author Thomas DiLorenzo says that this is not nearly good enough.

If they took their own rhetoric about constitutional government seriously, they would recognize that what is needed is at least a 90 percent reduction in federal taxes, not merely being satisfied with being taxed “enough already.”

Too true. Most Americans fail to realize that the famous event which inspired the name of the TEA Party groups—the Boston Tea Party in 1773—was a response to what amounted to a 1% tax. Samuel Adams was adamantly opposed to the imperialism on display by the British crown and argued that this “taxation without representation” was a violation of the British constitution, as well as the business agreements already in place between Great Britain and the colonies. The 100 or so colonists who assembled in Mohawk Indian disguises and threw the British tea overboard were not protesting the amount of the tax, but the whole idea of the tax. They believed that a line needed to be drawn and a message sent to the Crown that the American colonies would not stand for any type of trans-Atlantic tyranny—no matter how inexpensive.

This history lesson appears to be lost on many modern TEA Party supporters. It is not the amount of the tax or whether we can afford to pay it, it is about the assumed authority and control by the governing body—in the case of the first Tea Party, Britain; in the case of the 21st century TEA Parties, Washington, D.C.—to exact tax after tax after tax on the citizens. DiLorenzo hits on the real heart of the matter:

Since such a tax reduction is not likely to be achieved with the cooperation of the Washington establishment, no matter who is elected president, the only real prospect for success is to take seriously the words of Thomas Jefferson, author of America’s Declaration of Secession from the British Empire, and organize numerous peaceful secession movements. Let them have their socialist utopia on the Potomac. The rest of us can watch with great amusement as they ruin their small society, impoverish themselves, and turn into a Third World swamp, which is what Washington, D.C. started out as several hundred years ago.

The secession movements started gaining a bit of popularity immediately following the re-election of President Obama in 2012. The wrong-headed notion of these movements however is that they were petitioning the very government from which they were intending to secede. This makes no sense. The Declaration of Independence, or what DiLorenzo calls the Declaration of Secession from the British Empire, wasn’t asking for permission to leave the British Crown, it was simply stating—boldly declaring, in fact—what the reality of the relationship between the two political entities would be going forward. Asking a tyrant for permission to leave his tyranny is a fool’s errand. Alexis de Tocqueville pointed this out in 1835, less than 60 years after the Declaration of Independence was written:

If the Union were to undertake to enforce the allegiance of the confederate states by military means, it would be in a position very analogous to that of England at the time of the war of independence… The Union was formed by the voluntary agreement of the states; and, in uniting together, they have not forfeited their nationality, nor have they been reduced to the condition of one and the same people. If one of the states chose to withdraw its name from the compact, it would be difficult to disprove its right of doing so; and the federal government would have no means of maintaining its claims directly, either by force or by right. In order to enable the federal government easily to conquer the resistance which may be offered to it by any one of its subjects, it would be necessary that one or more of them should be especially interested in the existence of the Union, as has frequently been the cause in the history of confederations.

Sounds like a precursor to war, doesn’t it? One where the federal government is so devoted to the preservation of the Union that it would be willing to take up arms against its own citizens. But that can’t happen here… right?