Locke vs. Tea Party
Revolution is no stranger to the United States. The American Revolution was how our country came to be in the first place! Many Americans revolted during the 1960s and 1970s in protest of the War in Vietnam and for civil rights. Goodness, the Beatles even wrote a song about it! However, a new rebellion has come about: the Tea Party Movement. Are their reasons for revolt justified?
During the American Revolution, the patriots were infuriated by the taxes King George was imposing on them without giving them representation under the law. King George was a tyrant. President Obama, on the other hand, is not acting in a tyrannical manner (according to Locke in paragraph 199). He is following the laws, and not exercising power beyond his legal right. He is holding up his end of the social contract. Whether he is doing it well is not the question at hand. It is only when the contract is broken that Locke grants the people the right of revolution (paragraph 168).
Regardless of a lack of tyranny, the Tea Party Movement is against Obama and his government. According to their website,
“The impetuses for the Tea Party movement are excessive government spending and taxation. Our mission is to attract, educate, organize, and mobilize our fellow citizens to secure public policy consistent with our three core values of Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government and Free Markets.”(https://docs.google.com/View?id=dhsxmzm7_19fcdzskg5).
Basically, they want to keep their money to themselves, vest all the power of the government into a few people, and strip the government’s ability to regulate trade and business.
If Locke were still alive today, I do not think he would have approved of the Tea Party and their mission. By living in the United States they are entering into a social contract with the government. I think it is safe to assume that many of these people have drivers licenses and registered to vote; two actions that demonstrate their agreement to adhere to laws and statutes set forth by the constitution. The government is currently not breaking this contract; they are working to the best of their abilities to do well by the people. I am not sure that Locke would acknowledge the Tea Party’s justifications of rebellion as legitimate.
I personally think that under Locke’s definition, the Tea Party does not have enough cause to revolt. They are citizens who have elected senators and congressmen: representation. They say they want to do away with big government and reduce taxes considerably. During the American Revolution the patriots were protesting, “No taxation without representation!” The problem here is that the Tea Party members would like no taxation when they HAVE representation. Additionally, it is the government that prevents human beings from returning to a state of war, chaos, and confusion. We need our government to ensure that EVERYONE, not just the affluent, maintains their entitled rights of life, liberty, and property.
Locke states in chapter 18,
“…it being safer for the body that some few private men should be sometimes in danger to suffer, than that the head of the republic should be easily, and upon slight occasions exposed.”
He means that although these people may dislike what their government is doing, for the sake of the saftey of the country, the minority is not able to have their way. The only way for a rebellion to make an impact is if the majority party is the one revolting. As unfair as it may seem, the country is safer to dismiss minority desires in order to maintain stability. Locke would argue that it does not matter what the Tea Party is doing because they do not have enough people to create a lasting impact on the government and our social contract.
So with invalid reasons to revolt and the belief that their rebellion will not make an impact, I doubt Locke will be throwing tea in the harbor anytime soon.