3/8/2009 6:16

A Modern Tea Party

It is always good to see people of differing views get together. Just yesterday, a group of twelve hundred people, or possibly 500, depending on which television station you watched, joined in what they called a "Taxpayer Tea Party" in reference to the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Fortunately, this group didn't dress up as Arabs or Iraqis and throw barrels of oil into the harbor. (We still have quite enough pollution in the harbor as it is.) They did, however, talk with television reporters and from the resulting reports I garnered these impressions:

- Some of the people who gathered seemed to be protesting against the 2009 federal budget bill (which is still pending although we are well into March).

- Some seemed to be supporting the philosophy, at least, behind the recently enacted economic stimulus bill.

- A repeated theme seemed to be support for economic self-reliance. From TV reports alone I wasn't able to determine what these people meant by "self-reliance" in the inherently social context of economics.

- Others appeared to be arguing for an extension of special tax advantages, presumably benefiting themselves.

Although the group gathered in a public area near the harbor, they marched away from the river into an older neighborhood at the transition between residential and commercial areas. There they chanted in front of a closed office and demonstrated that, taken as a group, they had no clear agreement about what to do next.

Whether the participants recognized that they hold differing views was not quite clear from the available reports and video clips. Several people were speaking in the first-person plural, which might have suggested a unanimity that wasn't visible when comparing quotations of various participants.

It is always good to see people of differing views get together. Perhaps the participants weren't clear about their level of agreement, but the event itself proves that people of differing views can accomplish something together -- even if that common task is shouting at an empty office.

Sometimes the actual reality is the symbolism, not the content.