The world American colonists lived in in the 1770s and the situation we find ourselves in in 2020 reveal a fascinating parallel. In 1775 Great Britain’s “piling on” of the colonies resulted in the American Revolution. What will be the end result of the government’s authoritarianism today?
Alec, one of my favorite characters in my current manuscript that takes place in 1777, said of Boston’s history of riots: “Ours is a recreational rowdiness. Violent, yes, sometimes. Riots are a political tool for us commoners…”
“Us commoners.” There’s a parallel.
It seems that most of the 330 million Americans today—us “commoners—have as much input on what governors force upon us as colonists had on King George III and British Parliament in the 1700s.
That is, none. No input.
In the 1765 the British Parliament imposed the Stamp Act, a direct tax on the colonists ostensibly to pay for protection from a French invasion that the colonists never feared in the first place. The act demanded that most printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp.
Was this not only taxation without representation but the first time politicians chose “a winner” in commerce: British paper manufacturers?
Not to be outdone by previous Parliaments, the newly minted body in 1773 passed the Tea Act, granting the English East India Co. a monopoly on tea sales in the American colonies.
Today’s governors have taken the part of King George III. Which businesses, which enterprises have preferential status varies from governor to governor, but make no mistake: the governor is king, his or her actions shall not be questioned or you will be charged. (In colonial times, you could simply be forced to serve in the British military.)
Where’s the representation today in the halls of State Houses across America? The same place, it appears, as it was in London: nonexistent.
Where did these politicians get their totalitarian powers? Powers that have put tens of millions of gainfully employed people out of work, not only destroying their finances and futures, but leading to suicides, social upheaval, food insecurity, and health risks unrelated to COVID-19.
While any deaths from a virus are tragic, a thousand times more people are seeing their livelihood devastated.
What would the colonists of the 1770s do if they were suddenly transported here (in a time warp) and faced this new sort of tyranny?
Those men proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
I’d say that “liberty and pursuit of happiness” part has been knocked off a cliff.
They—those dreaded “commoners”—followed up their decree with certain Amendments, among them the 1st Amendment giving citizens the right to assembly, free speech and religion—none of which could be contested or impinged upon by the government. This would include governors, the President, Congress, you name it.
How far have these rights devolved?
The answer is “into lunacy.”
A pastor is fined for holding a service with 16 people separated great distances in a 230-seat sanctuary.
Church members are fined for sitting in their cars in a church parking lot and holding a service.
A man is fined for playing ball with his child in a sparsely populated park.
Where’s the Revolution today?
“Us commoners” must decide.