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Double, double toil and trouble …
“Macbeth,” Act 4, scene 1
In Shakespeare’s famous classic, the Bard depicted three Scottish witches incanting over a boiling cauldron, conjuring up a powerful potion of foul ingredients including poisoned entrails, eye of newt, toe of frog and other despicable things, portending double toil and trouble for the man who would be king – Macbeth.
On March 7, a year ago, in this space I called for “A New Boston Tea Party.” Though I hadn’t heard anybody else proposing it, I soon learned that others were spontaneously and independently calling for the same thing. In a matter of weeks, there were local and regional demonstrations all over the country, hundreds of thousands of American citizens crying loudly, like Peter Finch in the movie “Network,” “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to allow this administration to ruin our lives, to take over the country and tell us what we can and can’t say!”
I don’t think there has been a phenomenon like this “Tea Party Movement” since the first one in 1773, the one that keynoted the looming American Revolution. What liberals and party bosses and jaded people in the media can’t seem to comprehend is that nobody started this, nobody organized this, no secret big money funded it, and nobody is orchestrating it now!
Just today, before I sat down to write this, I saw Anderson Cooper on CNN and Bill O’Reilly on Fox trying to figure it out … and missing the point entirely. Anderson, a very smart man, was asking Ron Paul why “the tea party hasn’t endorsed your son, running for Congress?” I didn’t wait to hear Paul’s answer, but I was laughing at Cooper’s lack of understanding of the “tea party” itself. It’s not an organization, a political “party”; there are no paid flacks laying out strategies in a back room, painting signs for out-of-work folks to parade in public places, hardly knowing what the slogans are about. It’s not a long planned, well laid out agenda aimed at toppling some party or promoting another – or even creating a new one.
Bill O’Reilly was expressing his concern to Sarah Palin that the New York Times was painting the whole thing as a revolt of “extremists,” just a fringe thing that would soon be written off, discounted and forgotten. He was asking Sarah what she thought, and how the “few kooks and loonies you can find in any movement,” as he put it, could be silenced and kept from making the whole tea-party thing look loony and irresponsible.
Sarah did a pretty good job of explaining there is no governing authority, nobody presuming to tell the huge, disparate, diverse horde of citizens what they have to say or not say. If some “partners” make controversial signs or take an extreme position on some issue – so be it; they have a right to be heard, too. This is democracy in action, undiluted with political second-guessing, expensive polls or predetermined agendas. This is the people of America speaking out, making their desires clearly known, demanding that their government serve them, not the other way around!
This is that famous Norman Rockwell painting of a small town-hall meeting, where a group of his neighbors are listening to a grizzled, hardworking farmer, standing uneasily but bravely, speaking his mind on what’s needed in their community.
This is Civics 101, something every American citizen should remember, and every public servant from city councilman to president of the United States needs to be reminded of. This is “We the People,” not “Big Brother” speaking. It’s not another political machine, it’s not Republican or Democrat – it’s grass-roots America … and it’s not going away. For the first time in a very long time, the people are demanding to be heard.
There’s something very much like it going on in Iran right now. Have you noticed?
Hundreds of thousands, perhaps in aggregate several millions of Iranians have taken to the streets, the parks, the plazas, also chanting and yelling and waving placards, also demanding that their governing authorities listen to them and do their bidding. One big, big difference. Some are being shot down in those streets, including one horrific murder of a young female demonstrator whose only weapon was a sign. Countless others have been savagely beaten, many jailed and kept indefinitely from their families behind bars.
The military, in cahoots with the ruling Islamic hierarchy, are trying to keep a lid on all the protests, because they threaten the regime of seriously unbalanced Ahmadinejad and the dictatorial mullahs who try to use their religious authority to keep Iran an ironclad theocracy. Theirs is an incredibly strict theocracy that demeans and devalues women, demands severe, unquestioning subservience from men, authorizes the killing or enslavement of all who don’t submit to Sharia law – and has kept every country that submits to it from joining the ongoing civilizing of the rest of the world.
But history – like the little teapot – has shown that pent-up pressure will eventually blow the lid off! The French learned it, during the same period we colonial Americans were teaching the British the same lesson. When the French people, deprived and starving, begged for bread, Marie Antoinette famously responded, “Let them eat cake!”
At that, the French citizens stormed the barricades, and royal heads rolled. The cry was “Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!” But they lacked the other ingredient that gave the American Revolution its greater dynamic impetus: its dependence on God and the conviction that our liberty and unalienable rights were endowed by our Creator, not won at barricades and guillotines.
What the TV and press pundits haven’t yet recognized, along with the current administration and their Chicago-style political machine, is that the same desire for individual liberty and less government control (and voluntary, not coerced, concern for our neighbors’ needs) is fanning the flames under this new teapot.
The water is boiling. But although, ironically, the trained eye of a “Newt” is included, the ingredients are not poisonous. They are the hearts and souls of our Founding Fathers, the life sacrifices of a million young sons and daughters who gave their all for our democracy, and the uncounted prayers of millions who cry every night and day for God to bless America. The lid is trembling. And unless the mounting pressure is heard and heeded – it will be blown off.