Friday, April 17, 2009

Tea Party Impressions - What's Next?

I started protesting big government when I was in my twenties. I organized a group of friends to participate in an “Editorial” Club to write to local newspapers about a variety of issues. Our main goal was to advance a different perspective that respected individual rights and free markets. Each week, one member wrote a letter to a newspaper and read it to the group for comments and suggestions. Then, once improved, the letter would be mailed.

We succeeded in getting lots of editorials printed in the Indianapolis Star and other local papers because of the thoughtfulness and clear writing of the letters. After a time, the professional considerations of some of the members caused the group to break up; though some of us continued writing letters on our own, buoyed by our success and the improvements in our writing skills.

Since, then I’ve written lots of “letters” and even had some of them read on national television shows such as “The Factor” and “America’s Newsroom” to name a few. I’ve continued my advocacy of individual rights and freedom…but to a great extent, I’ve felt like a candle in the wind…until April 15, 2009.

What a glorious day it was in America. I am proud to have stood with so many patriotic Americans for the cause of freedom. Here are some of my impressions of the Indianapolis Tea Party.

The Tea Party protests were not about reforming the Republican Party. I hope the protesters do not buy that media line. If the Republican Party wants to reform itself that is fine; and if you want to participate in that reformation, great; but the Tea Party was a protest only. It was a cry, an emotional shout for freedom from oppressive government. It was a warning to all politicians that something is wrong; they are spending our money and giving us no voice in how it is spent. It was a drawing of the line.

The Indy Tea Party event was spectacular. Richard and Laura Behney should be congratulated and personally thanked by every person who attended. The Wright Brothers band and singers were incredible and I was especially inspired by the singing of the National Anthem. To be standing as close as 20 feet from such a beautiful rendition was a true honor.

I appreciated the tribute paid to military veterans like myself and I appreciate the public “thank you.” After all those years, this was only the second time that anyone has thanked me. It meant a lot. But let’s be clear, I was fighting for freedom not for the principle of sacrifice.

The speeches, for the most part, were great. I found this day to be exhilarating and I was proud to be part of it.

The Future

I think the Tax Day Tea Party may well be the beginning of a movement that could transform America for the better…but it could also die, much like my Editorial Club back in the ‘70s. We have to get our bearings and recognize some very critical facts before the “Tea Party” protests can bear fruit and bring back to our nation the principles of freedom, individual rights and truly representative government.

I am spooked by all of the "special interests" who are trying to turn the protests toward their own agendas. The Tea Parties were not about abortion, immigration or religion. Certainly, most people have definite ideas on these and other issues; and frankly, so do I. But these, and other issues, are tinged with negatives that would drive some people (like me) away with the sad realization that the protest was just a Republican ploy.

The Republicans are re-distributionists...they are part of the problem. They are responsible for the mistakes made by government and are Republican Party officials claiming the Tea Party as their issue too. These people, starting with G. W. Bush, squandered their opportunity when they had a majority. They thought they had to become more progressive than the progressives, while we, the people, were looking for them to stop the advance of big government. They paved the way for Obama by sanctioning the principles that made his boondoggles and re-distributions possible.

If the Tea Party momentum is to make a difference for us, we need to keep it simple...stay on one topic and avoid all the other divisive issues. We are protesting what the government is doing to our freedom...that’s it...nothing more. This implies that life is the standard, not sacrifice. We are not just concerned about the lives of our grand children…how about our lives, today, and what the government is doing to us now?

We can not let the success of the Tea Party protests be co-opted by some larger group with its own ax to grind. Let all the other organizations change their agendas to include our protest if they want; let’s not include their agendas in ours. Newt Gingerich, Karl Rove and Sean Hannity are not what the Tea Party is about. With all due respect, the protests are about individual rights, and no other issue. Through our continued protests, we can make the establishment start talking "our" language; let's not repeat their language. We need to create a new dialogue not repeat the old dialogue. I hope I'm not alone in this view.

I think a good jumping off point is to recognize the wisdom and genius of our Founding Fathers. What they created through our Constitutional Republic was revolutionary. Our American Revolution brought forward new ideas that are still barely understood by the majority of people on this planet. In other words, they are still new ideas; they are the real “change” that we need. They created a force for the good of almost unimaginable magnitude and power because, through freedom, they unleashed the energy of millions of people as they succeeded in making better lives for themselves and their loved ones. They were real "change" and everything that went before them was the status quo; tyranny, corruption and patronage.

Today's politicians represent the ideas that came before the ideas of the Founders. These frauds are doing everything they can to impose sacrifice on every man, woman and great grand child in this country. There is nothing new in that; that idea came from pre-historical times. In fact, the entire progressive movement (Democrats and Republicans) today is only about forced "sacrifice"...from Marx to Hillary to Bush to Obama...that is why every key phrase of theirs is a restatement that says sacrifice is a moral, communism, statism, fascism, socialism, welfare-statism, "from each according to his ability;" even the Red Scare in China was a restatement of the message of sacrifice; the concentration camps were justified by it, the genocides and the murders of political dissidents were the result of it.

The basic premise of today’s politicians is forced sacrifice of the "good" for the sake of the "people." This means that your rights are secondary to their idea of what society should demand from you. They use this idea as a formula, magic words that are supposed to engender a set of responses that make possible their goals which are political victory and dividing the spoils. What will happen when the formula no longer works, when the people see what kind of plunder is really happening, when they recognize that the words, the restatements of sacrifice, are all hollow promises that deliver nothing but misery?

When people realize that capitalism is freedom and freedom is the use of the mind and rights are the expression of how we will deal with each other; when self-interest is seen as good – when Tea Party protesters say, “Enough, no more plunder” – that day will be the day when the media and politicians realize that this protest has teeth.

I'm beginning to understand what the Founders might have been thinking as they confronted all the special interests of their time and strove to create a society where everyone could live in freedom. I am not so much concerned with what another person thinks, it is more important that he be free to think so we can arrive at the truth through honest discourse. It is a grave responsibility to consider what might be best in order to accomplish something as new as freedom – when some people (over 230 years later) still don't seem to understand it. It will take discipline and a firm, singular goal for the Tea Party to have an impact that results in freedom. This next step, in my view, is crucial...we must make the message the medium through which freedom is accomplished. That message is “Laissez nous faire” – Leave us alone.

1 comment:

  1. On the topic of "What's Next?", a friend wrote that he thought the reason we aren't confronting the politicians is because we are lazy and think "Let the other guy do it."

    I think it is more than being lazy. They are few and concentrated, and we are many and unconcentrated. They can form a purpose quickly and we cannot get it together.

    I think the protest is good, but don't think that will go anywhere powerfully until some basic idea is grasped and then held aloft by the unconcentrated many. What I want to see is a basic idea become the rallying cry of the millions of people.

    I don't want to see it being run by Fox News or the Republican Party. The Republicans will have to prove themselves guardians of freedom before I will give them approval. Since politicians and news programs depend on people's approval for existing, they have to earn that. So far they haven't when it comes to the issue of political freedom. Not Fox, not the Republicans, and definitely not the Democrats who are leading us into a socialist, "us vs. them" politics. Unless there is a focus for the protest that is grounded in a strong "for something," it will die out. No one nor organization can live being against something and that's the sum total of it.

    The word "freedom" is not going to be THE WORD although that is what it is. The Left advocates freedom too and then destroys the structure for protecting it in a political context. It's going to have to be something that differentiates the people who want Individual Freedom, the RIGHT to be left alone to live their lives.

    I think, ultimately, this is a battle for Individual Rights vs. the Greater Good/the group. People have got to see that freedom means being protected in their person and property and that the property right is vital for being able to tell when a person has been violated. Without that, no clarity can ensue. Ultimately this comes down to what Rand said it was about - the discovery of a morality that shows you that you are what is important - that nothing outside of you is the final arbiter of your life. Until people are willing to own themselves (ultimately their own mind), as the source of their moral authority, freedom cannot be ultimately won.