They called him an American Patriot. Back in the 1700s, it was a title that meant serious business. People who wanted to be counted as a patriot put their lives on the line for an idea no one knew would be any better than the established British rule. Or even if it would work.
For Samuel Adams, there was no choice: with the problems of grossly high taxation, untouchable representation and a rapid deterioration in the standard of living, life couldn’t get much worse. He took hold of an idea and started preaching about things such as accountability, honest elections and a handful of inalienable rights.
At first it didn’t exactly go over with a rousing cheer. In the better circles of society, this was not considered enjoyable conversation.
But Sam never really had the time for comfortable debates.
He would have much rather set fire to a ship, do something to shake up the imposed status quo. For that reason, the good people didn’t want to get too close to Sam–he had a way of making people think about dangerous things. He got under the skin–with his Tea Parties and Stamp Acts, his fiery rhetoric, Sam said the things left unsaid by those worried about their reputation as upstanding members of society.
Sam was never politically correct.
He was, however, an American Patriot, before there was anything to be patriotic about. Back in those days, all patriotism meant was a one way trip to the gallows or a personal meeting with a British bayonet. At the time, America was just a dream he shouted on the street corners of Boston.
That made him a criminal, and that was exactly his point. Sam could not stand the fact that someone else could tell him what to do, take his money, and not have the decency to ask for his opinion. The fact that he–an American–could not vote, could not stand on that street corner and speak his mind without fear of death was against the very basic principles he believed were the right of every man:
- The right to fair taxation.
- Responsible representation.
- Citizens’ rights.
On the street corners, in secret meetings, on docks and in shops, Sam would spread the word to minds fooled into thinking that life would be much worse with any kind of radical change.
Eventually, he shouted loud enough.
Today, we can barely remember what he was saying. Our leaders have compromised the very values he and other Patriots stood up and fought for:
- The right to fair taxation: In today’s America, we are taxed far more than our British masters ever would have dreamed possible. Our income is taxed – two, something three or four times. Our purchases are taxed, upwards of 7 to 8 percent. Our method of transportation is taxed through toll roads, gas tax and registration. Our homes are taxed, and if we make improvements, we get taxed even more. With all this tax, you’d think that Americans would live a life of privilege, yet we work more hours than any other advanced economic nation. Our mothers have to go back to work sooner and fathers get no real paternity benefit. Our seniors must work until they’re 70 or older, and then, when they retire, must live below the poverty line. A lifetime of working, and Congress can’t pass a fair medication bill to take the burden off our eldest citizens.
- Responsible representation: Our leaders distinguish themselves only through their greed, avarice and self-serving agendas. In Washington, D.C., congressional leaders are threatening fisticuffs and calling the cops. It’s not republican or democrat. It’s just politics and it has to change.
There’s no doubt that Old Sam would have marched straight up to Congress with a gang of patriots and a few dozen buckets of red and blue paint. Sam was a patriot, after all, and back then patriots were known by the crazy things they’d do for the sake of a cause. And by those who defined it, the cause behind American Patriotism is about standing up for the rights of the individual. Sam Adams did not shout on street corners as a democrat, republican or a member of the NRA. He stood as an American, and fought for the American Way, a collection of beliefs that defined the individual as the most important part of the group.
Together, as individuals, we can build a nation that the world will look to as a shining example of benevolence, freedom and industry. A nation of people who hold individual freedom as the highest standard of all, who offer safe haven to the persecuted and give all men and women the right to make dreams come true.
That America is gone. This new America, this twisted new reflection in the mirror, is one that Sam Adams would certainly recognize – and he’d be the first person to stand up and shout about it.