New Political Craze Steeped in Double Meaning

Anti-tax protesters call on Americans to "tea bag your legislator"

A new craze is sweeping the nation -- "tea-bagging." It's happening all over the country at well-attended "tea parties." There have even been calls to "teabag the White House."

No, it's not a bunch of John Waters fans or snide video gamers run amok. It's anti-tax zealots harking back to the age of our founding tea-baggers. On April 15, in more than 450 cities, protesters plan to dump tea into area waterways in a move reminiscent of the "Boston Tea Party" that decried taxation without representation back in revolutionary times.

The new wave of protest, and its slightly salacious moniker, however, is comic gold rush for Castro Valley's new favorite daughter, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, who had plenty of fun with the double entendre in a segment with UC Berkeley alumnus and Time political editor Ana Marie Cox.

The protests against taxes, whipped up in right-wing circles by radio hosts and bloggers calling on citizens to "tea bag your legislator."

The events draw their inspiration from the Boston Tea Party of 1773, where protesters (some in red face and Native American costume worthy of the Village People) rallied against taxes levied by British Parliament on tea imported to the colonies by a crown-sanctioned monopoly as part of the Townshend Acts.

At the crux of the matter was "taxation without representation," not taxes in general. Of course, since the revolution and the right to vote being extended to all citizens here in the colonies, all of our taxation has been, thenceforth, with representation.

And tea is no longer the stimulant of choice. But I guess "energy drink-fueled anti-tax protests sponsored by Red Bull" don't have the same old-timely appeal.

In embracing the "tea bag" term, Republican leadership only lends more weight to suggestions by critics that they are woefully out-of-touch. But tell that to the party chairman who awkwardly uses slang to show how "down" the GOP is.

Photo by Jackie Bucci.

Jackson West would love to see the look of disappointment on the faces of San Franciscans turning up to any local tea-bagging protests.

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