(Denver Post, July 24) Will Barack Obama go the way of Jimmy Carter, and lose reelection after demonstrating weak leadership in a troubled economy? One Coloradan with a keen nose for the political wind signaled last week that he thinks it might happen.
Gov. John Hickenlooper told a reporter the president would “have a hard time” carrying our state right now, because “there’s such dissatisfaction over people who have been out of work” for months or even years. Though Hick’s warning wasn’t an outright prediction of Obama’s defeat, it’s significant because Colorado is widely considered a must-win if he is to hold the White House.
If voters throw out the incumbent, it will be as much because of conclusions we the people have reached about ourselves, as because of anything we conclude about the Democratic president and his Republican challenger, whoever that may be.
We’ll have realized that “consent of the governed” is a responsibility for each of us, not just a mass wave swept along by partisan currents and media gales. Again in 2012, as in 1980 when Carter was ousted, Americans will have decided it’s grab the steering wheel or crash. The leadership reversal we could see next year would simply be the culmination of a citizenship resurgence that began a year or two ago.
The Tea Party movement, consciously echoing the determined citizens who resisted royal oppression and later wrote consent into the Declaration of Independence, is the most potent force for reassertion of America’s founding principles since the Reaganauts of the 1970s refused to believe our best days were behind us. Its emergence in 2009 answered my hope, expressed in several 2007 columns, for a responsibility movement to challenge both parties and reach beyond them.
The conscience our self-government has long lacked is awake again at last. A GOP president taking office in 2013, if such occurs, would find himself or herself equally under the skeptical Tea Party eye as the GOP Congress does now. The new political mandate is to do the right thing; not the easy or customary thing, but the right thing and nothing less. What a welcome change, and just in time to save ourselves – if we still can.
Doing the right thing by choice, and then owning the consequences of your choice: that’s personal responsibility. There’s no other antidote to the debt candy and the entitlement addiction gripping Democrats and Republicans alike. No other antidote to the fiscal deficits engulfing state and federal budgets. No other antidote to the moral deficit of throwaway marriages, negligent parenting, rigged school tests, hacked cell phones.
Deficits abound, but it’s ultimately the responsibility deficit that will sink us unless we get a grip. Its symptoms are everywhere – in dishonest pension promises, in Orwellian day-care regulations, in sanctimonious politicians with zippers down, in an Obamacare law that embeds big business and big labor with big government, waivers the connected, dehumanizes the patient, cooks the books, and calls it reform.
The American experiment asks a brilliant, daring question: How much success can freedom produce? The answer, for the first two centuries, was an astounding amount. But the 1960s and ‘70s revealed a serpent in the garden. We learned that freedom and success can be their own worst enemies. Responsibility has to temper and guide them. History’s drama turns on our continually forgetting and relearning that.
It was responsibility reborn in citizens’ hearts and minds, not mere electoral victories, that turned twilight in America after Vietnam, Watergate, assassinations, and stagflation into morning in America with booming growth, renewed confidence, and Cold War victory.
Another responsibility movement seems to be stirring today. It didn’t start in Washington; they never do. The Washington crowd will either catch on or catch hell. Time is short. History’s drama heightens.
John Andrews is director of the Centennial Institute, former president of the Colorado Senate, and author of Responsibility Reborn: A Citizen's Guide to the Next American Century (Denali Press, 2011). Learn more at www.ResponsibilityReborn.com
(Centennial Fellow) This essay is my argument for why America needs the Republican Party and the Tea Party to combine forces to form a semi-new political party, the GOTP or Grand Old Tea Party. William F. Buckley wrote in 1955 that National Review "stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it." Had Mr. Buckley's wisdom been heeded the Republican Party today would be yelling Stop! In fact, it is not yelling stop, nor has it yelled stop since at least the 1980s. At best, Republicans have been in concert with the Democrats using the refrain "slow down, slow down" to the opposition's "speed up speed up." Now more than ever, it seems that as Will Rogers once said, there is not a dime's worth of difference between the two parties. Look to the record.
Bush Republicans outspent Bill Clinton's administration. Admittedly, Clinton did not have united government but the Republicans did. If the Bush Republicans have stood athwart history they would not have increased the size of the budget the debt and the government. At best they slowed the growth.
The American people have come to understand this. If one looks at the polls Republicans are not much more popular than are Democrats. Granted, the Republicans will take control of the House and, and with the cooperation of Blue-Dog Democrats, have a good deal of power in the Senate. Allow me to ask whether this is a good thing? Assume Republicans control both Houses and stand athwart President Obama. What are the chances, without the influence of the Tea Party or more importantly Tea Party members in the legislature, repealing Obamacare in toto? With utmost respect--it will not happen!
There any number of reasons this will not happen. What mitigates against change in the Congress is the Norm of Universalism. Walter J. Stone, relying on the researches of David Mayhew, says that the Norm of Universalism states that the "activities in which members of Congress engage to get themselves reelected, do not usually hinder other members' attempt to get reelected." He goes on to state that in the Madisonian theory, "each legislator's reelection depends on his ability to satisfy general policy interests." This will bring members into conflict, resulting in compromise. But the Norm of Universalism is contrary to the Madisonian theory, and, "conflict among legislators may even make their individual reelection more difficult." Conflict between members would greatly reduce particularized benefits, Congressional benefits targeted at particular constituency, i.e. earmarks. Stone concludes everyone wins! Except government, the national debt and deficits continue to grow. Thus, change is stifled but the growth of government continues because it is in each individual member’s re-election interest to buy constituents votes by doling out government largesse. If it occurred in a back alley and not the floor of Congress they would all go to jail. Paul Jacob, Senior Fellow, Americans for Limited Government, says, "[T]he message being sent, clearly, is that Senators [and by extension members of the House] aren't supposed to challenge other members' notions of the worthiness of state projects."
As professional politicians, mainstream Republicans are most interested in keeping their seats in the House and Senate. While I am unable to read minds, one can see "moderate" Republicans not taking candy from babies, that is, not removing healthcare benefits and entitlements. How politically dangerous is it to remove benefits citizens who already have those benefits? What are the chances "moderate" Republicans will stop funding mass transit while our interstate highway and road system continues to deteriorate? Will they attempt to return to a real balance between state and national government by repealing laws like the National Drug Enforcement Act which do not allow individual states to govern themselves as they see fit. Will the "moderate" Republicans actually cut the size of government?
Let me continue this thought experiment. If my hypothesis is correct, that mainstream Republicans will do little to actually change government over the next two years, Republicans will chip away at a variety of different programs, Pres. Obama will become known as the veto president, blaming Republicans for being against progress. Second, I think it is reasonable to believe that, following fully four years of failure, President Obama will step down as a one term president. He does not seem to enjoy the job of president. And, as George Stephanopoulos has said, Obama does not like the theater of politics, a crucial part of presidential leadership as Ronald Reagan fully understood.
By 2012, assuming my scenario is correct, we will have had six years of united government under the Republicans in which we got two wars, bigger government, and bigger debt. We then had four years, 2006 to 2010, of Democrats in the legislature, 2 years of which were united government under Democratic rule and got the greatest depression since, well, the Great Depression. Unless the Republican majority actually changes things, and I do not believe there is any reason to believe Amoderate@ Republicans will change anything, the only rational behavior for the American voter will be to consciously choose divided government.
The voters will retain the Republican Congress and choose a different Democratic president, read Hillary Clinton. Imagine the excitement of Democrats if they can make history two times in a row: electing the first black president then electing the first female president. On the other hand, if the GOTP is perfectly strategic, it will outbid the Democrats by nominating Michele Bachmann for president and Marco Rubio for vice president. Imagine the angst of liberals in this dilemma.
Unless you believe the racist argument, which is of course childish and moronic, Obama and the Democrats are losing because they promised change and did not deliver. In addition, the change they did bring is not very popular with the American people. But I think the fundamental problem is, as political scientist Theodore Lowi says in his book AThe Personal Presidency,@ Obama and the Democrats raised expectations well beyond an achievable level. What then will the Republicans do when they get into office? Again, if I am right, not much, but they will be saddled with the same expectation level as Obama had! AModerate@ Republicans cannot stand athwart history but merely astride it. One thing the 2006 and 2008 elections demonstrated is that the American people do want change. I believe that most Americans, especially now that large numbers of baby boomers have been forced to grow up, are disgusted with politics of the past forty two years. What Obama tapped into in the 2008 campaign was very much what Ronald Reagan understood: what Americans want of their president is an heroic figure who congregates America in search of justice. This conception of a charismatic leader is replete in presidential literature. I think it is best represented in H. Mark Roelofs, AThe Prophetic President: Charisma in the American Political Tradition.@ What the American people want of their legislature is simply less, not more. The traditional role of Congress has harmonizer of diverse interests is no longer sustainable. And what we want most in our daily lives is more control over our daily lives. We want more control of our children=s education which costs too much and does not produce educated citizens, more control over local police who have become tax collectors, and less control, as the anti-Federalists foresaw, from far-off Washington D. C.
Right now the idea of the Tea Party is more popular than the Republican Party. Therefore, what is best for the people, for the long term interests of the nation as opposed to the short-term calculation of reelection, is to weave the spirit as well as the ideas of the Tea Party into the Republican Party, forming a new political party, The Grand Old Tea Party. The Republican Party, which is conservative on social values and political values, is unlike the Tea Party, which is fiscally and economically conservative. If the Republican Party embraces not just the ideas of the Tea Party, but welcomes Tea Party members in the House and the Senate wholeheartedly into the new party, the American people will feel as though they have actually influenced politics. If the Republican majority does not appoint Tea Party members to major positions in the legislature and the party, the edge conservatives have now will be lost. The expectations of independents along the continuum to conservatives will be sacrificed on the altar of self-interest. What conservative politics in America, and indeed, the American future needs is to write a new book, AProfiles in Conservative Courage,@ showing that there are conservatives politicians who actually can govern virtuously. This is change we can believe in.
The current makeup of the Republican Party, fighting off the continuing onslaughts of Democrats, is unsustainable. It might be the influence of Saul Alinsky, it may be that Liberals are just childish brats who never grew up and thus do not have the ability to admit they have been mistaken and withdrawing gracefully to a loyal opposition. The fact is these people are brilliant, much better Than Republicans, at raw politics. Consider the John Roberts hearings. They would not allow Mr. Roberts to leave without a firm commitment to precedent. Make no mistake, they were not arguing on the basis of legal theory. Rather, they take the term "progressive" literally. The old saw of progress being two steps forward, one step back is entirely lost on true believers. They refuse, at almost any cost, to take any step backward. Indeed, look at the language that I am using. Progressives talk in terms steps forward and back. These are not concrete terms but the manipulation of language; Progressives know what they are doing. Conservatives are out of step in political language. What the GOTP can bring to the table is a new language, composed of direction, right and wrong, of correcting mistakes, not going backwards. The Tea Party offers the message that we are on the wrong track, headed in the wrong direction, and we must fix, not just ameliorate, these wrongs. The current Republican Party is incapable of either expressing these ideas or taking the ideas seriously.
What then is to be done? The GOTP must dedicate the next two years exclusively to economic issues. There are many substantive issues the Congress must deal with, to keep itself, as well as the country going. And of course, there is always the possibility of foreign affairs completely derailing the agenda. However, the new party must resist the tendency to broaden its appeal in order to win the next election. The GOTP will have been elected in order to create jobs and fundamentally change the way government interacts in the economy. Thus, for example, the GOTP must have an absolute ban on all earmarks. One of the things that annoy voters is when politicians go back on their promises. The GOTP, in order to be a truly different party, must gain the trust of the people. If we say we are going to do something we must do it at all costs. Going back on our word with Ajust one little earmark, which is crucial,@ will show we are just another bunch of hacks.
The GOTP must also be committed to truly changing the size of government. This can only be done with bold moves used intelligently. What I mean by this is not just turning off the White House lights or lowering the temperature in government buildings as Jimmy Carter did. The only truly effective way in which to cut the size of the federal government is to reinstate the powers which have been taken away by this Democratic Leviathan.
This necessitates two constitutional amendments: an amendment overturning the 17th amendment and a Federalism amendment. I fully understand the problems inherent in these moves. Understand what is at stake-the future! Here is where we can be truly imaginative in our politics. The need for overturning the 17th amendment I would hope is obvious. By effectively eliminating the states as a check on the national government, there is no longer an institutional structure in government invested in limiting the size of government. I think that the movement, that is exactly what we need a movement, on the 17th amendment should come from within Congress and, hopefully, move to the states. Not to sound like president Obama but this type of move will not occur overnight. This is why, tactically, we must reinvigorate the economy. If the GOTP does have success on the economy and brings substantive change, the people will begin to trust us. But only if we educate the nation why we are doing what we are doing. So, for example the privatization of Social Security should be discussed in terms of a free people, liberty loving individuals choosing to be responsible and govern themselves and not depend on big government.
The Federalism amendment is a necessary adjunct to overturning the 17th amendment. Ever since the end of the Civil War the concept of federalism has been declining to the point where today states think of themselves as entitled stepchildren of the federal government. Madison explained federalism in Federalist 45: "The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce....The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people." In a letter to Major John Cartwright Jefferson emphasized that the states are not hierarchically secondary to the national government. Both are "coordinate departments of one simple and integral whole...The one is the domestic, the other the foreign branch of the same government." In a letter to George Washington in 1791, Jefferson saw the 10th amendment as Athe foundation of the Constitution.@
In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on April 23, 2009, entitled, "The Case for a Federalism Amendment," Prof. Randy Barnett of Georgetown makes his case for this amendment. Basically, his suggestion for the amendment is a legally specific spelling out the logical implications of the 10th amendment prior to the first Progressive era. Indeed, the best possible amendment would be one that all people of goodwill would shrug their shoulders and say that this is all already in the Constitution. That is precisely the point: there is in the Constitution it has been lost and needs to be reiterated. The amendment would then serve notice the GOTP is serious about federalism. Indeed, one can see the states using the proposed amendment as a springboard to bringing cases before, eventually, the Supreme Court forcing courts to rule on another important element overturning power to the states, nullification. The federalism amendment should come from the states themselves. Article V provides that, "on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states," Congress "shall call a convention for proposing amendments." Before becoming law, any amendments produced by such a convention would then need to be ratified by three quarters of the states. I can feel the consternation in the air. However, if, as I argue, the future of liberty is at stake, we must take truly bold steps to correct the egregious mistakes of the past.
Prof. Barnett admits that this type of convention could get completely out of hand. But, Ait is precisely the fear of a runaway convention that states can exploit to bring Congress to heel.@
One problem I do have with Prof. Barnett's federalism amendment is that he proposes to overturn the 16th amendment, the income tax. While I understand that this might cut some of the national government=s power, command it is probable that in order to gain enough votes to repeal the 16th amendment, the opposition would demand, in the spirit of compromise, an alternative which would probably be revenue neutral. More importantly however, what does the 16th amendment have to do federalism?
Frank Easterbrook, in Are Constitutional Changes Necessary to Limit Government? argues that, A[B]y abolishing the apportionment requirement, the 16th Amendment gave the federal government the power to control 100% of the entire economy.... In that combination of powersCit=s right there, it=s a logical consequence of the 16th AmendmentCgives the federal government control over almost anything it chooses to control.@ But the 16th amendment does not confer a new power on the federal government. The ability to tax already existed 16th amendment removed the acquirement that taxes be apportioned. When one looks at the two amendments, which were passed at approximately the same time, one sees the wholesale removal of a crucial check on the expansion of federal government power.
And, as I noted above, we need to be very strategic in our language. The essence of the campaign should be we are returning government to we the people. Hoping that I have not lost those of you who now think I have gone into a fairytale, let me continue by saying that I can imagine the states, qua states, being against these moves. Indeed, state politicians would likely be against such a move. Federal funding to states in 2008 was approximately $450,000,000,000. By 2011 the states will undoubtedly have over one half trillion dollars to spend. This is free money for the states; citizens of the state to protect the Abenefits@ but state politicians do not bear the cost of raising taxes.
But think about exactly why politicians, from either party, would be against these moves; this is precisely what needs to be changed and if we are actually serious about change in the future, it is incumbent upon us, nay imperative, to institute real change which can only come if these two amendments are passed. Allow me to conclude by suggesting a way in which the GOTP might really change politics. The American people want change in politics. But there is an area which, much like the weather, we all talk about do-nothing: negative ads and negative campaigns. First, we know that politicians use negative campaigning because they work. However, in the spirit of Glenn Beck at the Lincoln Memorial, the GOTP must be the good guys.
A quick story about an acquaintance of mine who was running for office. He was going to be interviewed by a local DJ, not a political commentator. The DJ opened the interview with, "can you say one good thing about your opponent?" I knew this politician, he was a very good person, a very good father, a very good citizen. To my chagrin he answered, "well, I would like to but…." Immediately, and I am not proud of this, I punch my radio breaking the on-off button. This was well the knees my friend and reflected badly on him and his party. I say we can and must do better do better. Imagine if my friend had said "my opponent is a good person, he is a good father, he is a good husband, etc. Imagine a nationwide series of ads in which the GOTP candidate stands up and says "I respect my opponent but I disagree with him on these issues for these reasons. Thank you for your time." Imagine a series of ads in which the GOTP the candidates' opponent is shown or heard speaking in favor or against an issue; merely that politicians' words. Then, the GOTP candidate comes on the screen or the radio and merely says, "I disagree. Thank you for your time." This would be a stunningly new way in which to run campaigns. If we really think we are the good guys we must act like the good guys. We must be the change we want to see in the world.
Throughout the last year and half, as the Tea Party movement has risen and sustained a consistent presence and voice, an ever-present tension has been acknowledged by Republican leaders, Tea-Party faithful and political pundits. The key question is whether the Tea Party movement will splinter the Republican Party.
There are three potential causes of a split within the party: differences in strategy, ideology, and/or egos.
Turning first to the strategic divide, there has been some evidence of a split. In the recent primary elections for United States Senate in Delaware and Alaska, the Republican Party’s “establishment” choice for candidate was challenged by an insurgent Tea Party-backed candidate, with the insurgent winning.
There are indeed legitimate short-term and long-term strategic differences and risks involved when party leaders and members recruit and vote on candidates. For instance, does a moderate-to-liberal Republican Mike Castle have a better chance of winning the Delaware Senate seat over Christine O’Donnell? The recruiting of Castle by SRCC Chair Senator John Cornyn shows a pragmatic approach that favors majority over conservative consistency. Conversely, the Tea Party and conservative grassroots seem to have concluded that Senator Mike Castle, who voted for the Cap and Trade and Financial Regulations bills while serving in the House, and who has refused to support repeal of “Obamacare” is not a good choice, favoring instead a strident conservative candidate like O’Donnell. While O’Donnell’s electability is indeed an issue when compared to that of Castle, the grassroots are willing to take this risk, even if it means remaining in minority status in the Senate. The calculus is that a weak moderate majority, forced to accede to Senator Castle’s demands (see Arlen Specter in his final years as a member of the Republican Party for how well that worked) is a less attractive option to losing the seat and staying in the minority (albeit a stronger conservative minority).
While these are legitimate and sincere strategic differences, they need not be sufficient to splinter the party. Most importantly, when the primary is over, the time for the fight has ended. Delaware Republican voters have made their choice. Their strategy has conservative purity trumping electability. Strategic differences no longer matter, as the decision has been made. There will certainly be a fair amount of “I told you so” going on November 3rd. For now, if they seek to increase their numbers, the party should unite behind the nominees.
Next we can consider ideology. While there are fringe members of the Tea Party movement, a basic search of Tea Party groups and their platforms will reveal a few basic tenets that tie these groups together:
1) Adherence to the Constitutions of both Federal and State Governments.2) Reduction in wasteful spending and movement towards balanced budgets.3) Protection of free markets and capitalism.4) Government gets its power not because it wants it, but from the consent of the governed.5) Excessive tax burdens kill prosperity.6) Excessive national debt is crippling to future generations.7) Both Democrats and Republicans are responsible for spending beyond the means of the government.8) In recent years, the government has shown considerable arrogance in enacting policies which are strongly against public opinion.
When one reads through this list, a mainstream Republican would be hard-pressed to quibble with any of these ideas. In fact any Republican, from moderate to conservative, should be able to agree with each of these points.
We can conclude that ideology need not be a major source of fissure.
Now we turn to egos. In recent months, we’ve seen a disturbing pattern develop. Mike Castle’s refusal to endorse O’Donnell; Murkowski’s consideration of a Libertarian Party or write-in bid; Charlie Crist’s abandonment of the Republican Party to run as an Independent; and Dan Maes’ refusal to withdraw from his gubernatorial race in Colorado in spite of the fact that his personal liabilities ensure his defeat (It may ultimately become clear that Christine O’Donnell is as guilty of this as Dan Maes). This pattern illustrates that some Republicans are pretty bad losers whose personal ambition is much greater than party loyalty or pursuit of a conservative agenda.
The problem is more than just candidates. There have been tensions between Senator Jim DeMint whose Senate Conservatives PAC has been pushing several candidates who are considerably more conservative than those of his colleague Senator Cornyn, chair of the SRCC. Additionally, debates on several prominent conservative blogs including Powerline, Redstate, the Weekly Standard and National Review Online as well as recent comments by Karl Rove about Christine O’Donnell appear not to be driven by ideology or strategic differences and more of a statement of whose “horse” was in the race.
The greatest threat of “civil war” is self-interest: I want to win or I want my favored candidate to win, and if I/they lose, I don’t want the opponent to win. If Republicans can’t get past this, it won’t be the Tea Party movement’s ideology or strategic differences that cause the collapse. It will be egos that refuse to lose, egos that refuse to put party above self, and egos that trump all else.
(Denver Post, Apr. 18) “The British are coming,” Paul Revere’s alarm to the Massachusetts countryside on this day in 1775, conveys an urgency you don’t get from the equivalent warning of 2010, “The bankruptcy is coming.”
Fact is, though, fiscal implosion threatens the aging United States of today as grimly as the redcoats threatened the newborn nation of 235 years ago. The question is whether Americans will come awake as the patriots did on that historic night, or sleepwalk into the abyss. I fear for our country, optimist that I am, because the answer is not clear.
To stop blindly expanding entitlements we can’t fund and borrowing what we can’t repay, the country has to snap out of politics as usual. We need a brutally honest self-appraisal, AA-style. The Tea Party movement is doing that, but so far the old-line Democratic and Republican parties are not. America’s genius for self-correction has never been more needed.
We must save ourselves from a terminal case of debtor’s disease state by state, with Washington dragged in last. It will be Massachusetts setting a good example with Scott Brown after setting a bad one on subsidized health care. Illinois passing pension reform while California remains in denial. New Jersey’s Chris Christie stepping up as a budget-balancing governor as our own Bill Ritter whiffs.
In Colorado neither the legislative session nor the election campaign has yet risen above politics as usual. Democrats raised taxes rather than discipline spending. Republicans went for higher electric rates on dubious environmental grounds. Both settled for a bandaid on the PERA pension cancer. The House Speaker favors an ACORN election bill. Bipartisan senators plan another strike at petition rights.
Constitutional amendments initiated by the people, you see, are part of what ails Colorado in the view of some elected politicians. They want to make it twice as hard for you and me to revise our own charter of government. Such restraints on power as term limits in 1990 and tax limits in 1992 couldn’t be so readily imposed in the better future these visionaries offer us. No thanks.
In the US Senate race, meanwhile, Democratic momentum is with Andrew Romanoff, a friend of the big unions that worsen our fiscal and economic woes, and the Republican field is led by Jane Norton, who supported the easy-spending Referendum C back in 2005, sugar for Colorado’s budgetary diabetes. The Democrats’ likely nominee for governor, Mayor Hickenlooper, is an habitual taxer, yet his opponent Scott McInnis won’t sign a no-tax pledge. Come on, friends, pick it up a notch.
My colleague Richard Bishirjian of Yorktown University contends that part of the problem in Colorado is a “brain drain” due to term limits. The deficit I see isn’t brains but backbone – a spine decline. We’re in danger of being systemically corrupted as a whole people, as the Independence Institute’s Dennis Polhill put it.
Today’s imperative – sober up and man up, or the Chinese will own us – is less galvanizing than a midnight cry to wake up or King George will tyrannize us. But make no mistake, freedom is again at a tipping point. The ascent from bondage to faith to courage to liberty, traced by historian Alexander Tytler in the 1770s, tilts quickly from liberty to complacency to apathy to dependency, returning then to bondage. Ask yourself where we are on that scale.
The balance our Founders sought, wrote James Madison, was to “first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Two centuries on, badly under Bush and still worse under Obama, Americans are getting little of the one and way too much of the other. We have to turn this around. Will 2010 be the year?
('76 Contributor) Next time you read a news story about racism at Tea Parties from some dishonest source like the NYT's Bob Herbert, bear in mind this Crash the Tea Party website. Here are some people openly recruiting infiltrators to pose as Tea Partiers and behave in ways intended to reflect badly on the Tea Parties, so as to damage the public perception of the movement. Since the claims that Herbert made have failed to be corroborated in the multiple videos of the events in question, that pre-established narrative must now be bolstered by whatever means necessary. Of course, there almost certainly are some racists and other disagreeable people at many Tea Parties (which of course has NEVER been the case at a union rally or an anti-globalism rally or some other such leftist thing)--there are bound to be some unsavory individuals at the margins of ANY gathering of substantial size for whatever cause--but the organized effort to smear the entire movement based on some individuals' unrepresentative behavior is truly disgraceful. It's McCarthyism. It's difficult for me to understand how anybody could, in good conscience, attack people whose central message is that the founding principles of American government should be adhered to. No matter how awkward or embarrassing somebody's effort to stand up and proclaim that message, how can you not be ashamed to do anything other than applaud him for it? And the idea that it's a generally awkward or embarrassing movement is just propaganda, from what I've seen--certainly some of the individual efforts have been awkward, but so what? I've met very admirable and impressive folks involved with the movement. What is wrong with people who are trying to marginalize ideas like limited, responsive government, government of, by, and for the people? That such efforts are widespread in THIS country really sickens me. Then again, maybe there's something even more insidious going on than an infiltration agitprop effort by Tea Party opponents. Maybe it's one layer deeper--this recruitment effort is organized by the Tea Party itself, to create the impression that its opponents are unscrupulous enough to resort to such infiltration tactics. Or maybe it's even deeper than that: Maybe the Tea Party opponents want to create the impression that the Tea Party would resort to creating a false recruiting effort attributed to Tea Party opponents. Or maybe it's an even deeper layer of insidiousness than that... [Or maybe someone needs to call the fantasy conspiracy helpline for counseling - Editor]
(CCU Faculty) The Colorado Christian University chapter of the College Republicans sponsored a trip to the Colorado State Capitol for the 2010 Tax Day Tea Party. Twelve students attended the rally on the Capitol steps, joining thousands of other protesters.
Many news reports suggest various demographic biases (too white, too rich, too educated, too…). Tut as best we could see, the gathered group at the state capitol was a cross section of Colorado, with great ethnic, age and socio-economic diversity.
Another charge lodged against the Tea Parties has been that of radical extremism. While there were indeed a few signs that were off-color and a few outlandish claims made; these were a very small minority. And none were any worse than what was being promoted by the small gathering of “anti-Tea Party" protesters who were staged across the street. One sign actually called for the lynching of Sarah Palin! We will wait patiently for the media to cover that!
Most of the crowd was simply demanding greater protection of liberty; and less government, less entitlement spending, and less taxation.
Following the rally, the group headed into the Capitol building where they were led onto the Senate floor by State Senator Greg Brophy (R-Wray), who shared some of the history as well as the day to day workings of the Colorado Senate.
The group then toured State House where the House Sgt of Arms escorted the group onto the floor while discussing the history of the House Chamber. Finally, the group visited the office of State Representative Amy Stephens (R-Colorado Springs) who shared some of her experiences.
The day marked an excellent experience of both citizen education and activism.
(CCU Student) For the past few years, Americans have heard countless mentions of change and changing America. In 2008, the people voted for a form of change that they thought they wanted. A break from the “old” way of doing things and a transition into a new day of prosperity and wealth for all. And after not even two years, we seem to desire yet another change. The eyes of the voters have been opened to how the Obama administration and other progressives operate within a shroud of secrecy. We were promised transparency and bipartisan efforts but instead have seen intimidation, back room deals, midnight meetings, and political maneuvering. And that was just to get all of the Democrats to fall in line. The opposition on the other hand, was completely shut out of the process of creating legislation. Americans have seen a glimpse of the progressive system and are beginning to realize that it is not what we want.
I spent Thursday afternoon at the Tea Party rally in downtown Denver. I stood amongst hundreds of fellow citizens who are fed up with a government that refuses to listen to the people and instead distorts the Constitution to meet its own desires and needs. Together we stood before the Capital building and spoke out for change.
Later that evening I was back at CCU, listening to David Barton of Wallbuilders speak on the Constitution and how it would in all probability take forty years to roll back the gains in government and policy made by liberals and progressives.
After hearing this, I began to wonder if rolling these changes back is possible in our current social climate. We are in the day and age where everything we need and want is at our fingertips. With the click of a button or the swipe of a card we can obtain almost anything. And it seems to me that this attitude is beginning to permeate into our political beliefs and system. So the question is: do we have the patience and resolve to see this through and win the fight?
It will take an enormous amount of resolve on the part of conservatives if we hope to truly fix the system and return to the government of 1791. We cannot expect to mend over a hundred years of progressive reforms over night. Just as they slowly chipped away at the fabric of our nation, so too must we slowly peel back the layers of their gains. For if we were to simply do away with that much legislation at once, our government and system could possibly collapse and implode.
It will take us time but we can win this fight. We must never be afraid as Americans to defend our rights at any cost. Just as the brave soldiers who are immortalized upon the steps of the Capitol, we must be willing to give it all in order to keep our nation, our culture, and our freedom alive.
"We can’t allow ourselves to remain silent as foaming-at-the-mouth protesters scream the vilest of epithets at members of Congress," wrote Bob Herbert in his New York Times column the other day. A Democrat friend of mine from Rochester, NY forwarded me the Herbert piece, entitled "An Absence of Class," about the alleged ugly incidents in the aftermath of the US House's healthcare vote. She accompanied the link with this single sentence: "You would never ever defend this." The following is how I responded.
If you think I would defend it, then you completely missed the point I was trying to make before. I don't defend the things Bob Herbert describes--if they really happened (I am completely open to the possibility that they didn't actually happen as described, or that they were grossly exaggerated, or that Democratic members of Congress and their lackeys would make up or even stage such incidents in order to achieve exactly what the incidents have achieved: a smear against thousands of people).
But let's assume that it all did happen exactly as reported. I say, So what?
Any time you gather thousands of people together, no matter what the cause they're gathering to demonstrate for, you can take it as virtually guaranteed that some of them aren't going to be nice or well-behaved people. The vast majority of humans, of any political stripe, aren't exactly saints. Obviously, in any gathering of large size, you'll have a bell-curve distribution on the civility spectrum, and at one end of the curve you'll have bad apples.
This method of gathering an unruly mob to make a political point in the streets, by chanting and waving signs (as opposed to making the points on the pages of a newspaper or at the debate lectern or in some other measured and intellectual manner) has been a favored practice of the Left for decades; seeing the same tactic on the other side is a fairly novel thing.
You wouldn't seriously assert that nothing vile ever took place at any of the demonstrations in support of causes dear to the Left, over all the decades? I've seen a little bit of it myself. For example, sometimes I'd walk out of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California by its Franklin St. gate, during the height of the Iraq War, to find an anti-war mob with signs at the bottom of the hill, and some of them would jeer at me and call me things like "Nazi"--people who didn't know anything about me except that I sported a military-looking haircut. But you know...so what?
It wasn't unusual for acts of mob violence--looting, arson, etc.--to happen where MLK made a public appearance, even though King explicitly decried any such activity. Things got pretty ugly right there in your town, if I'm not mistaken. Should we paint all members of the civil rights movement with the brush of a few thuggish individuals who made the event a pretext to behave in a vile manner? Everyone who favors desegragation is is a thieving incendiary...if YOU favor desegregation then YOU're on the side of looting and arson...yeah, okay...strong argument, huh?
Herbert says, "We can’t allow ourselves to remain silent as foaming-at-the-mouth protesters scream the vilest of epithets at members of Congress — epithets that The Times will not allow me to repeat here." Oh really? We can't allow it? How short his memory is, because he and his ilk were perfectly happy to keep quiet and allow it just a few years ago, when protesters were saying and doing things at least as vile against the previous administration. I doubt if any president has received the amount of abuse that Bush did. And I don't care about that. He's a big boy and he wasn't drafted into the job of president, and having a thick skin is part of the job. So what?
Why is this Herbert article even worth serious consideration? His chosen method of decrying a lone idiot who spat on some politician is to spit on tens of thousands of people with vile statements like these: "For decades the G.O.P. has been the party of fear, ignorance and divisiveness...." "This is the party of trickle down and weapons of mass destruction, the party of birthers and death-panel lunatics. This is the party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio, with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry."
What is this? Fight fire with fire? This is Herbert's own commitment to hatred and bigotry on display.
The whole article is nothing but an ad hominem. He's not critiquing the Tea Party's central message--he's trying to turn people off to that message with guilt-by-association. "If you are tempted to favor shockingly radical, fringy ideas like...oh, let's say, a limited government that is accountable to the people and stays within the bounds of the Constitution...then you're in the company of bigots, and therefore a bigot yourself." That's what he's saying. This is just the latest flavor of McCarthyism.
I've been called a racist and a Nazi for criticizing Obama about issues that have nothing to do with race--those names were hurled at me based on nothing other than the ethnicity of the target of my criticism, as though the only thing that keeps me from cheering him for his policies is that he's not pure Anglo-Saxon. Apparently nobody is allowed to criticize a public official on any grounds, if the official happens to be a minority. That's about the level of Herbert's argument here.
I don't care. They can call me whatever they like. All they're doing is revealing the Orwellian inversion of language that infects their thought: If I am color-blind, applying the same standards of criticism to a black man that I would to a white man, then I'm a racist It's no longer prejudice and racial double standard, but the absence of prejudice and racial double standard, that makes you a racist. If I'm for limited government and against the kind of centralization of economic decision-making that Nazis and other varieties of socialists espouse, that makes me a Nazi. Opposing socialism makes you a National Socialist. Up is down, black is white.
('76 Editor) Which big speech best expressed the concerns and hopes of most Americans right now, Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Jan. 26, or Sarah Palin's forceful and confident speech at the Tea Party convention tonight? I give it to Palin hands down.
This may be the opening salvo of her presidential campaign for 2012, a campaign that stands a better chance of success with every passing week. It's still very early, but three years from now we just might be getting used to the first woman ever to win the White House -- and recalling that it all got started on Reagan's birthday in Nashville, when American heard its next president give her State of the Palin address.
CNN seems to be the first news organization up with a lengthy text story on the speech (which wrapped up only 45 minutes ago). CSPAN's website is promising a complete video file on the speech shortly.