Democracy is a wonderful mechanism to run our government. It allows "We The People" to choose our elected leaders, and challenge them at the ballot box if we disagree. But some of those People are just plain stupid.
Case in point: Rick Barber, a tea party candidate running for Congress in Alabama. His internet ad entitled "Gather Your Armies" is becoming a viral sensation. It is set in a dark tavern as he explains modern-day tax policies to George Washington, Sam Adams and a fellow who appears to be Ben Franklin. It opens with Barber calling for Congress to impeach President Obama (too bad for Republicans that the president has never been caught with an intern in the Oval Office). By the end, Barber is whipped into a frenzy and asks the three ghosts if they are with him in opposing this "tyrannical" government.
"Gather your armies," George Washington responds.
Unfortunately, Barber is skewing his history by railing against what he perceives as unfair taxes. It was during George Washington's presidency that the Congress enacted the Whiskey Act excise tax in 1791 as a way to pay for the Revolutionary War debt. Rural western Pennsylvania farmers, who distilled and sold their own whiskey, felt this tax was unfair and rebelled against the Act three years later. A few months after the Whiskey Rebellion in July 1794, President George Washington led 13,000 federal soldiers into Allegheny County and quickly quashed the revolt.
Barber's commercial shows a fictitious Washington hanging out in some dank basement bar and calling for Americans to turn against the federal government. But history tells us that the real George Washington likely would have encouraged the federal government to gather its armies and put down the revolt Barber is suggesting.