You may have seen the images on TV, men dressed in costumes reminiscent of the Revolution, women wearing funny hats and children with red-white-and-blue designs on their faces. They call themselves the Tea Party, after the patriots who – disguised as American Indians – boarded a British ship in Boston harbor and threw the cargo of tea overboard. They were protesting a tax on tea imposed without input from the American colonists.
The Tea Party is supposedly seeking a revival of the revolutionary spirit in America. Members of the movement accuse the federal government of being tyrannical, and their goal is to drastically reduce its power.
This, they think, will ensure their freedom.
Ironically, the federal government has a history of protecting the rights of American citizens, while states and local governments have frequently pursued policies of oppression and bigotry.
But perhaps the greatest irony is the Tea Party’s support of the Republican Party and the US Supreme Court’s right-wing majority.
Consider the implications of the court’s Citizens United ruling.
By decreeing that corporations may spend unlimited amounts on political campaigns, the court has left America vulnerable to a return of colonialism. Of course, the colonial powers of today are far too cunning to employ mercenaries as George III did; their weapon is money.
Writing about an impending trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Dr Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists, warns in Truthout today:
Residents of the West should be particularly alarmed. TPP would allow the plunder of our natural resources by foreign corporations allowed to bypass US law. Disputes over Western land contracts for mining and timber, for example, would be settled by international tribunals. Even if you are oblivious to environmental concerns, you should be outraged at the total circumvention of national sovereignty. Foreign investors could bypass our legal framework, take any dispute to an international tribunal and pursue compensation for being denied access to our resources at fire-sale prices – with much of the West on fire as we speak.
It gets worse. Those tribunals would be staffed by private-sector lawyers that rotate between acting as “judges” and as advocates for the corporations suing the governments. American taxpayers could be forced to pay those corporations virtually unlimited compensation for trying to protect our air, land and water from much looser standards than current US law allows.
Dr. Moench notes that the TPP initiative is dominated by global corporations. He writes:
TPP was drafted with the oversight of 600 representatives of multinational corporations, who essentially gave themselves whatever they wanted; the environment, public health, worker safety, further domestic job losses be damned.
That sounds a lot like colonialism to me. But this time it’s global corporations that are doing the colonizing.
And these corporations could determine who rules America by flooding political campaigns with unlimited amounts of cash. Overwhelmingly, they are supporting Republican candidates – Tea Party candidates – in the November elections.
The irony is deafening. And tragic.