On January 24, 2009, in Binghamton, New York, four days after President Obama’s inauguration, two-dozen college-age protesters showed up carrying placards saying BORN FREE AND TAXED TO DEATH.
They had assembled to protest Gov. David Paterson’s proposed “obesity tax” on soft drinks. The protesters were led by Trevor Leach, who had just been named as the first New York state chairman of a group called Young Americans for Liberty, an offshoot of the 2008 Ron Paul for President campaign. Leach, then twenty-four years old, sported a feathered headdress intended to evoke the original Boston Tea Party that helped launch the American Revolution.
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In the first decade of the twenty-first century, the Boston Tea Party made a comeback, sometimes as a metaphor, sometimes as farce. The college students in Binghamton in January 2009 were engaged in a purely symbolic protest: These modern-day tax protesters poured a few gallons of generic-brand soda off the Washington Street Bridge into the icy waters of the Susquehanna River, hoping to attract a bit of media attention.