Reason for a New Age

The Tea Party™ – Part 1

Posted by publius2point0 on 2010/04/15


If my recollection is accurate, when the New World was first being settled, the individual colonies acted as a sort of business. A group of stockholders would invest in an expedition and then journey together to begin colonization. As equals, the task of managing the expedition was an elected position. When the colony was started, the company president might then be elected the new mayor of the village, and so it went. This is a good basis for our natural comfort in government by elected representatives.

But the question is how these officials came to be elected. It’s unlikely that there was any particular campaigning process with posters, offering everyone goodies, or whatever else. Rather, everyone would meet together and get to know each other, and as time went on and it came time to position someone as the leader, whoever had shown himself to be the most reasonable and level-headed was elected.

This would have remained largely true for the colonies as time went on. In the small towns, certain citizens would become more prominent as honorable and reasonable men. All news was local and the upper classes will always be a reasonably small number to keep track of. In that time and place, knowing everyone worth knowing was much of the job of the learned, land-owning man. And for everyone else, there wasn’t much else to do but gossip outside of work.

When a man was elected for a position, his personality and intellect were likely familiar to all who voted for him. If nothing else, they had likely read his personal writings in the newspaper several times, not something that a speech writer had written, nor a journalist’s second hand account of the man. Most likely when he did write something in the newspaper, it was because he was active in the daily life of the town and in its organization–not because he was campaigning.

Now, the reason that I bring this up is to bring attention to the fact that at the time of the writing of the Constitution, there would likely still have been a fairly strong idea that when you voted for your representative, you were voting for the man, not for a particular set of policy. People may have known little about what he was likely to do in his new position. He might not either, in particular. Everyone simply knew that out of everyone they could think of, he was the one they trusted to represent them as a whole. Oh, I’m sure that if he went in and started to do too many things counter to the town’s perceived interests that someone else would get elected the next time, but by-and-large the idea of electing your leaders was to elect those who you trusted to be someone who would take the time to understand the issues and who could make as good a decision on it as anyone could ever be expected to. You did not elect him because he had promised you some list of things that you wanted.

We do Not Live in a Democracy

That I can tell, the Tea Party is an activist split-off group of the Republican public. After having the Republicans spend like drunk sailors just to be followed by the Democrats seemingly do the same, they do not feel like their representatives are representing them–which is to say, they don’t feel like they are doing as they are told to do. As I already pointed out, elected representatives are not intended to do as told, but to analyze the situation and make wise decisions on the behalf of those who do not have the time, wit, access, nor paycheck to do so. That sentence, in itself, explains why this is a good thing. Even I, with the internet at my hands, can only wish that I had a crew of researchers at my call and any expert in the country available at need.

Ultimately, for the Tea Party organization to be telling the government that it is doing things wrong is ignoring the fact that most likely the government has ended up as it is due to the hard work of many smart and informed people. That there is some amount of corruption and dumbassery is of course true, but most likely not in appreciable amounts at the end of the day. We might not elect our representatives based on personal knowledge, but it is quite hard to make it up the ranks to getting elected to the Federal government if you are not reasonably bright. Being honorable and levelheaded, perhaps not so much, but those characteristics are probably not as vital.

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