Image by André Karwath (CC)
I do not presume to be the mouthpiece or leader of the 21st century American Tea Party movement, so the following is a summary of my personal vision for the modern American Tea Party, a list of objectives I believe it should seek to accomplish, and a set of principles I believe it should strive to embody. I am writing this because the Tea Party movement will fail to create real change unless it finds direction in sound principles and takes specific, practical steps to ensure the implementation of those principles in public policy.
Any political movement is doomed to failure so long as it is merely fighting for a particular, isolated policy preference or even a set of such preferences, absent of any context and underived from or related to a unified framework for viewing reality, humankind's role in reality, and government's role in humanity. The following (originally published in the Dec. 2008 article "Six Reasons Not To Bailout The 'Big Three' Auto Companies") is a perfect summary of government's proper role, the political principle for which we should be fighting and the banner under which we should be uniting, we who abhor its recent abuses of our liberty:
The proper role of a government is to maintain a civil society, meaning a society free from aggression, a society in which no human being can threaten any other by aggressing against them to destroy, diminish, or expropriate their lives, or their liberty or property- which are necessary preconditions of and corollaries to a human being's right to his or her own life. When government forcibly takes from some in the form of exorbitant taxes (or inflation) to give to others, it does the very thing it exists to safeguard against happening. When it takes such an action, it becomes an aggressor. It ceases to be an impartial arbiter between free and equal citizens to ensure their liberty, and it becomes a biased, partisan advocate for some people, using the legal power and force of its laws to favor them at the expense of the lives, liberty, and property of others without their consent and voluntary cooperation, which is morally outrageous.
If we as champions of liberty can fully comprehend, logically extrapolate from, and effectively articulate this one principle, and if we carry this message to the people of the world in a spirit of humility, love, and benevolence, we will move in leaps and bounds towards creating a truly civil and free society.
Our protests and other activities cannot be limited by our outrage at the US Federal government's recent passage of the Stimulus Bill. The 2009 American Tea Party movement must do more than simply complain that we don't like what's happening- we have to offer viable alternatives and defend these alternatives as superior to the direction that the current establishment is taking us. We have to set specific goals and actively work to see their attainment in government policy.
The following are suggested goals that I envision the 2009 Tea Party rallying to attain:
- Voting out each and every single incumbent up for re-election in 2010 who voted for the Stimulus Package and/or the 2008 Wall Street Bailout.
- Electing to office only candidates who promise to support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution (without any exceptions -e.g. in the case of war, emergency, or a 3/5ths vote in Congress) in an act that also requires spending reductions only (no raising taxes) for the first four years to balance the budget, as well as:
- The transition of Social Security from a mandatory pay-as-you go system to an optional system of private pensions.
- A permanent repeal of the payroll tax.
To enshrine in law the principle explicated earlier by accomplishing the goals listed above, we must take action. It's easy to be the one who says, "This is too hard, I'm too busy, I'll let someone else do the work." It takes spirit to say, "Whatever the cost, whatever the discomfort, whatever the outcome- I am duty and conscience bound to do what is right." Good thing we Americans have a lot of spirit.
The following are specific actions to take to help make the goals listed above a reality:
- Subscribe to this blog. I will keep you updated on action you can take to advance liberty as well as provide news and commentary from a libertarian perspective to deepen your understanding of politics and improve your talent as an articulator and defender of freedom.
- Subscribe to ReTeaParty.com, the website of a grassroots, independently-funded political action committee dedicated to coordinating action against government excess and waste as well as campaigning for candidates that will advance a political program of limited government.
- Learn who your Congressman and Senators are, how they voted on the Bailout and Stimulus bills, and whether they are up for reelection in 2010.
- If they are up for reelection and have a clean record ("No" to the Stimulus AND Bailout bills), then support their campaign and contact them to ask for their pledge to pass a balanced budget amendment, Federal spending reductions, privatization of Social Security, and a permanent repeal of the payroll tax. Encourage your friends, family, colleagues, and people you meet in coffee shops to do the same.
- If a Congressman in your district or Senator from your state is up for reelection and voted for the Stimulus OR the Bailout bill, find an alternative candidate to support who believes in limited government and is willing to pledge to some or all of the policies listed above.
- BE ACTIVE in these campaigns! Work hard to enlist others, get donations, and spread the word about your candidate.
And so long as these aren't the only things you're doing, you can still have fun participating in the following:
- Send a letter, write an e-mail, and make a phone call on March 10th to State officials reminding them that we still believe in the 10th Amendment and encouraging them to defend it.
- Send bags of tea to our Congressman and the White House to let them know that enough is enough on April 1st. (Purchase the tea from the Amazon widget above and you help support the Humble Libertarian).
- A Tea Party Protest on July 4th (if there's not one in your area, set one up!) If you don't even know where to begin, e-mail me and I will be glad to personally help you organize one from the ground up.
When our Founding Fathers fought for their Independence, they rebelled against their government to create a new one. Our purpose is different: we want to call America back to its duly-constituted government, not to subvert it or incite rebellion.
- There should be no calls for open revolution against the government. It is the corrupt politicians in Washington that have revolted against our Constitution, not us. We advocate a return to the Constitution. We are not the subversives and we want no other government than that happy one which begins with "We the People..."
- There should be no calls for or acts of violence under any circumstances. Remember that "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."
- Be cheerful, happy, and beaming with love, benevolence, and good-will for all of humanity.