Is This A Revolution?

Posted by Jason | Posted in Government, History | Posted on 02-11-2010

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The word revolution seems to get bandied about regularly at election time. Currently, the Tea Party is considered by many to be a coming revolution, but is it really?

When you talk to about revolution, the American Revolution stands as the greatest example. For those who are a little more historical, they may also look at the French Revolution as another revolution. They typically will explain that the French Revolution was a bad revolution, where the excitement of the people took over the ideology of revolution leading to the beheading and murder of many and ultimately to tyranny.

While I don’t want to get into the particulars of each revolution, there are a few things that stick out to me that separate the two.

The dictionary definition of revolution is “an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed.”

Within this definition, you can see what separates the two revolutions. One was a repudiation and the other was an overthrow. Why did they differ?

The American Revolution was basically a secession, much like the south did prior to the civil war. The colonies, based on their declared belief “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government”, decided to break ties or secede from the Britain. The government they were seceding from resided across the Atlantic. This provided an easy demarcation for the colonies. It gave them an area to defend against the coming invasion by those they just distinguished themselves from.

With the French Revolution,  you did not have this. The French rulers and the people resided in the same borders. This would make it much harder for a separation. In France, they decided to overthrow the government. Apparently, they didn’t believe repudiation was going to be possible. This leads to the second distinction.

I constantly hear people talk about peaceful revolution. They say let this, our current supposed revolution, be a revolution of ideas. The problem here is they are making it sound as if during the American Revolution we had violent revolution and somehow we are doing it different. The American Revolution was a peaceful revolution until the British crown decided to use violence against the colonies. The colonies didn’t look for over throw. The colonies wrote a document declaring why they were separating. They did not go waging war or violence against the government. The French Revolution was starkly different. It was waged in violence by those looking for a change in government.

At it’s roots, these two revolutions were fundamentally different. One was righteous while the other was violent. One was a revolution of secession, while the other was a revolution in blood. The Founders revolted by withdrawing their consent, while the French revolted by murdering the rulers. These are the fundamental differences between the American Revolution and the French Revolution.

So, which type of revolution is the Tea Party? I would have to say neither. While they love to quote the Founders and talk about revolution, there is nothing revolutionary here. They are not against oppressive government. They are for a little less oppressive government. They aren’t against a government’s idiotic drug war. They aren’t against our idiotic foreign wars. They aren’t against a legal plunder like welfare, Medicare, or social security. They are only against additional legal plunder. Ask most Tea Party participants if they want to get rid of any of these programs, and I bet the majority do not. For example, Real Time with Bill Maher had it’s first Tea Party person on the show. Did she represent a revolution? She said she would not cut one dime from military spending. She railed against new spending, but she had no fundamental disbelief in government plunder. She didn’t call for the ending of any government programs. She called for nothing revolutionary.

I guess what I’m really saying is while the media may like to hype of the Tea Party, one side saying they are a coming revolution for good governance, while the other side thinks they are a bunch of hicks wanting to take down a black President, neither side is right. They are not revolutionary. They are not looking for any real changes in our current government or the course we are heading. They are not looking to repudiate our government nor overthrow it.

If you are hoping for a sea change in our government, don’t hold your breathe, because all and all, this is no revolution.

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Comments (1)

If you’ve seen Role Models, I feel about the Tea Party like Augie feels about Coca-Cola: I like the idea of the Tea Party better than I actually like the Tea Party.

I initially thought the Tea Party would be a good thing – a real push to shrink government at all levels, but most especially at the federal level. Unfortunately, reality has not borne that out. They claim to be for smaller government, but as you note, it’s the same “smaller government” that many Republicans want – smaller gov’t w/ fewer services, but only if someone else pays for it. Very much a NIMBY mentality.

IMO, libertarian thought is the next “revolution”, in the sense that it’s not currently considered mainstream, but is finally starting to pick up some real steam.

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