In 1773, American colonists dumped 342 chests of tea into the Boston Harbor. Their unwillingness to pay duties on imported tea made them our country’s original free traders.

As Constitutionalists, Tea Party members are likely to recall that the U.S. Constitution gave Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and between the states. Prior to that point, tariff wars between the states disrupted commerce and threatened the country’s survival. By eliminating interstate trade barriers, the Constitution created a free-trade zone that allowed our country to prosper.

Trade barriers are literally the textbook example of special interests using their influence to receive special treatment from the government at the expense of average Americans. The Halloween season is a good time to observe that Americans pay twice the world price for sugar. This is not just bad for consumers, it costs jobs. Trade barriers that increase the price of sugar have forced Hershey Foods, Brach’s, and other companies to close plants and lay off workers. U.S. trade barriers reward groups for their political clout and represent the type of influence-peddling that Tea Party members should oppose.

Like the original patriots in Boston, today’s Tea Party members should be prepared to dump trade restrictions that benefit politically connected insiders while making our country poorer and less free.