Does the 'Tea Party' movement need a new name?
The American 'Tea Party' movement generally takes its name from the Boston Tea Party of 1773. The movement opposes taxes, calls for reduced government intervention in the economy, generally looks to the success private businesses as the engines of economic prosperity, and expresses broadly conservative values.
So here's the question: Was the historical 'Tea Party' actually representative of those values? I suggest that it may not have been.
The Boston Tea Party was a popular response to the Tea Act, passed by the British Parliament earlier in 1773. Contrary to popular belief, the Tea Act imposed no new taxes on tea (or anything else, for that matter). Indeed, the Tea Act made British tea less expensive in the colonies.
Furthermore, the Tea Act reduced government intervention in the operations of the East India Company. Prior to the Tea Act, the EIC had been required by imperial regulations to ship all tea to Britain, where it was taxed, and then re-ship the tea to the American colonies. This onerous requirement made it impossible for British tea to compete with (smuggled) Dutch tea prices. By eliminating this regulation and allowing the EIC to ship directly to North America, Britain cut out the government middle-man and hoped to reduce the final price of the tea and allow the EIC to compete with the smugglers in the marketplace. Parliament's logic was: Making-things-easier-for-business ==> increased-commerce-&-economic-expansion ==> more-tax-revenue-without-raising-taxes, an economic plan not too distant from that of most fiscal conservatives.
In the Boston Tea Party, American patriots responded to this Act by destroying the private property of a major corporation. It was the Company, not the British government, that suffered financially because of the destroyed tea. A modern equivalent might be a mob forcing their way onto a Toyota cargo-ship and rolling all the cars into the Pacific.
To sum up, the Tea Act which sparked the protest imposed no new taxes and actually decreased government regulation; the Boston Tea Party was an illegal popular assault on private property, an act more in keeping with the past radical activities of GreenPeace than with conservative principles.
For these reasons, I suggest that the 'Tea Party' Movement consider some rebranding. And, as an additional perk, they would be able to jettison that unfortunate 'tea-bagger' label...
"He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."