The original Tea Party targeted crony capitalists.
Today’s would be wise to follow its example.
The rest of Franklin’s remarks make clear just how worried he was.
And he was far from alone.
As I showed recently the founders were reading Edward Gibbon’s account of how the ancient Roman republic had slipped into tyranny – degree by self-deluding degree – as its powerful men titillated and intimidated its citizens into becoming bread-and-circus mobs.
‘History does not more clearly point out any fact than this – that nations which have lapsed from liberty to a state of slavish subjection – have been brought to this unhappy condition by gradual paces’ wrote founder Richard Henry Lee.
It could happen not with a bloody coup but with a smile and a friendly swagger – if the people had grown tired of self-government and could be jollied along or scared into servitude.