The Tea Party’s Feudal Lord

It boggles my mind how the tea baggers can get it so wrong.

I think most Tea Party folks probably trace their ancestry back to Europe. Most probably they imagine they originally hail from England, since once upon a time Merry Olde was considered to be our “mother country.”

I wonder if they ever stopped to think about the brave men and women on their family tree who made the decision to board a ship and set sail for America’s shore? Do they ever try to understand what sent these ancestors of theirs to build a new life here?

If these ancestors came in the very early days of our history, before the Industrial Revolution got into full swing, then they were coming from a society that was, in many ways, still feudal. Most likely they would’ve been poor, seeking a better life. If I can put it very simply, they were coming to escape the Sheriff of Nottingham, who did the local aristocracy’s bidding.

I know this reference predates the founding of the American colonies by centuries, but it’s an apt metaphor just the same. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the lower classes remained pretty much without property, which was mostly owned by an aristocracy who had been given land and control over the local population in return for service to the crown.

A lower class person’s entire existence was directed by the whims of the local aristocrats. If one remained in the favor of the local lord, then one might have a job and a meager, subsistence income. Evoke the ire of the lord or lady and one might suffer long term unemployment or end up imprisoned.

The same system existed after the start of the Industrial Revolution, it just manifested differently in that working the land producing food was replaced in many instances by working in factories or coal mines. If anything, life became more brutal, even if it was dressed up a bit with the material fruits of industrialization.

In many ways, the Tea Partier’s ancestors fled England (or Ireland or Europe) to escape a form of slavery, for the promise of freedom.

Ah, freedom! That’s a word that wakes up all Tea Partiers. Freedom! The word that describes what this country is all about. Freedom! A concept that the Tea Party completely misunderstands.

The serf escaped England looking for freedom. The serf escaped England determined to never be a serf again. Do you know what else? The serf escaped England with the egalitarian conviction there would never, ever again be serfs and lords.

Mr. Tea Partier, this ancestor of yours whom you revere so much would roll over in his grave if he knew what you are trying to do. Hell, he might even shoot you.

The lords and ladies, the aristocrats who live high off the sweat of others, have never gone away. We’ve changed the rules. We don’t have a king or queen to grant these lords and ladies their status, so they have bought it, just as they have bought influence in our government to solidify their rule over you and me.

Look around you, Mr. Tea Partier. We don’t own this government. This government doesn’t work for us or even act in our own better interest. It works for the corporations. It works for Wall Street. It works for big industry, big pharma and Walmart. The only way you and I are on the agenda at all are in the sense of which of the neo-feudal lords we get to serve.

Oh, Mr. Tea Partier, you see as well as we do what’s wrong with this country, but you attempt to correct it by strengthening the position of those who lord over you. Your ancestors didn’t come here to create a society in which they too could become the Sheriff of Nottingham. They came to create a society in which the Sheriff of Nottingham could not exist.

Christine Hall

Christine Hall began her journalism career in 1972 writing for the "underground" newspaper the Los Angeles Free Press. From 1988 until 2005 she covered politics for various newspapers in the Greensboro, North Carolina area.

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