A Moment’s Reprieve
“The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles.” -Ayn Rand
Many people today believe – and it may be true – that the American Colonists rebelled against their British governors in response to a far smaller degree of taxation and oppression than Americans suffer under today, at the hands of their own government. What causes such people to accept – let alone speak – such a belief? Is it to try to cause action, even if it’s just completely peaceful action, that will throw off the oppression the American people currently suffer under? Obviously not, because if that were the case then the message would have resonated by now and something would have been done. No, the reason why people hold this belief (or fixate on this fact) is to console their guilt. They know that they should do something – that they could do something – but that they are not doing anything. Telling themselves that the colonists were being petty and merely overreacting helps them evade that fact.
This commercial does just that as well. By portraying the revolutionaries not as men of principle, but rather just petty reactionaries (against a degree of oppression that really wasn’t all that intolerable), it allows the men of today to believe that their own passivity is perfectly rational and noble. If the revolutionaries were doing what they did not because they were unwilling to tolerate any degree of oppression – if they only followed through with the revolution and pledged their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honors” to the goal of establishing a completely free country – simply because their British oppressors failed to find a way to placate them (ie: free tax filing), then that makes today’s American feel better about his unwillingness to stand up for the principle that his life belongs to him, and not to the government. He has no one to point to in order to prove the opposite. To prove that acting on principle can be done, and that it can actually work. That suffering under oppression – of any degree – is not necessary. That freedom can exist.
Obviously no one takes this commercial seriously. No one disputes the historical record (ie: that the Americans did in fact follow through with their revolution) – but by entertaining the idea that they would have abandoned it (had the British found the right tool of appeasement), it provides the average American viewer a moment’s reprieve from the constant (and deserved) guilt he feels for having abandoned his own “god-given” right to (complete) individual liberty. TurboTax knows that without actually solving the problem, that that guilt isn’t going to go away. That it will nag at the average American constantly. They merely hope that whenever such an American seeks reprieve from it again, that he will remember how he felt when he saw this commercial (and then, hopefully, remember that it was produced by TurboTax – and then, should he happen to be in need of a tax filing service, decide to utilize theirs).