Long ago, America fought a war to throw off the shackles of oppression. Today we don’t have to resort to violence to combat the latest political insanity. But sometimes it does pay to be pushy.
Consider Tennessee. When legislators there tried to impose a personal income tax, Tennesseans had to act. But citizens don’t enjoy the right of initiative and referendum in that state. So they found another way to make their discontent known. Mostly, they drove around the capitol building honking their horns whenever their alleged representatives seemed on the verge of foisting the new tax. They also buttonholed legislators and shouted slogans.
This resistance has paid off. For the third year in a row, attempts to impose a personal income tax in Tennessee one of nine lone states in this great land still without one have been foiled.
Not without counter-resistance. Indeed, the police were openly partisan when things got heated, according to Phil Valentine, a radio talk show host who led the rebellion. “These were citizens opposing an unconstitutional income tax,” says Valentine. “[But the police were] dragging soccer moms out of their cars and handcuffing them. They gave out tickets to people for blowing their horns. . . . They tried to keep citizens out of the gallery though when a lobbyist or state employee with a pro-tax button showed up, they got escorted in.”
Many Tennessee politicians have criticized the vocal protests. Too intimidating, they say. But if they’re so dismayed by honking horns and angry petitioners, why don’t they placate the “mob” with a little more democracy? How about term limits and a citizen initiative process?
his is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.