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Saturday, December 3, 2016

WASHINGTON — In 2009, when a staunchly conservative and visibly angry group of American voters launched a new political movement they called a “tea party,” I was more than a little confused by the association with a seminal moment in the early history of this country. The Boston Tea Party grew out of American colonists’ fury at a tax imposed by a faraway British Parliament whose members they did not elect.

In 21st-century America, however, residents of all 50 states get to vote for members of Congress, who have the power to impose federal taxes. Ultraconservative voters may have been disappointed by the results of federal elections in 2006 and 2008 because Republicans lost Congress and the White House, but they could not argue they didn’t get to vote.