By Jed Gladstein
From “astro-turfers” to “tea-baggers”… from “racists” to “domestic terrorists”… the men and women of the American Tea Party movement have been consistently vilified by the powers-that-be in this country. The political elite in Washington, D.C. are determined to malign and destroy the Tea Party movement, and the media elite are fully complicit in that assault. The education elite are busy writing books and articles trying to justify the wholesale condemnation of millions of Americans who disagree with the policies of the political elite, and the religious elite are working overtime to help them do just that. In such circumstances, the American people might be forgiven for wondering what the Tea Party movement is all about and why the powers-that-be are so worked up over it. Well, as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “Listen, my children, and you shall hear…”
Many years ago, before there was a United States of America, there was an English king and an English Parliament who believed it was okay to tax the people living on the North American continent without their consent. The king and Parliament also thought it was appropriate to pass laws requiring the American people to purchase products only from designated suppliers. That didn’t sit too well with the American people, because they were used to figuring things out on their own and doing things for themselves. When problems arose, they fixed the problems. It never occurred to them to rely on the government to tell them what to do or how to live their lives.
So, when the government began telling the American people whom to buy tea from, and then imposed a tax on every piece of paper the people used in daily commerce, the people were deeply offended. Some of them gathered together in local groups to see what they could do about an overweening government whose policies were an affront to their traditional civil liberties. Those groups comprised people from all walks of American life — laborers, artisans, shopkeepers, merchants, businessmen, printers, and lawyers. Pretty soon, the little groups started to grow, and they spread across the land. Before long, they became known as the “Sons of Liberty,” and after a couple of years, they grew into a powerful political force in America.
At first, the Sons of Liberty tried to petition the government for a redress of grievances, but the government refused to heed the popular outcry against policies that the people considered tyrannical. Finally, in 1773, a group of citizens decided to protest in a way the government could not ignore. On December 16, they tossed 342 crates of British tea into the Boston harbor. That was the first Tea Party protest in America, and it is rightly celebrated as a symbol of the determination of the American people to be free instead of allowing a tyrannical government to tell them how to live their lives.
Today, the government has once again passed laws and implemented policies that are an affront to the traditional civil liberties of the American people. In their overweening arrogance, the political elite have wrested from the people control over entire sectors of American society. With profound contempt for the principle of limited government embodied in the Constitution, the elite proclaim a right to control the health, education, and welfare of a citizenry whose national existence is a testament to the yearning of people to be free from government control of their lives.
Wherever the people look today, they find government regulations that limit the scope of their activities and government regulators who fasten themselves upon the body politic and suck the life blood out of a free society. Using a modern version of Orwellian Newspeak, the elite pander to their own hubris in the name of “reform” and “compassion.” But while they single-mindedly go about reforming American society in the name of compassion, they are deliberately disarticulating the sinews of American power and ineluctably eroding the spirit of freedom in America.
The more government reforms our economy, the more difficult it becomes for the average American citizen to earn a decent living. The more government reforms education, the more uneducated American citizens become. The more government reforms health care, the more expensive medical treatment becomes, and the less capable our medical services sector becomes, at providing medical care. In fact, as the American people look around at government involvement in their lives today, they would be hard-pressed to find a single significant viable social program in the last sixty years that the government can claim to have successfully created and managed.
As a result of the massive and pervasive government interference in the lives of the American people, our country now faces a debt and deficit crisis that threatens to bankrupt the middle class and turn the United States into a third-world country. Many people in America recognize this threat. They are the men and women of the modern American Tea Party movement. They understand that as government power increases, individual liberty decreases. Having connected those dots, they are determined to reclaim both liberty and prosperity from the “tax-and-spend” elites of both political parties.
Today’s Tea Party patriots are the spiritual descendants of the Sons of Liberty. Like their historic forebears, they are everyday Americans — men and women from every walk of life who understand the political calculus of freedom. That is why they espouse the civic ideals of limited government and personal responsibility that animated the Founders of this country. Tea Party patriots know that it is necessary to scale back government intervention in the lives of the American people in order for the people to enjoy the blessings of liberty, including the prosperity that liberty can produce and sustain. They understand that liberty is not received as a gift from government. It belongs to the people as a God-given right, and government cannot be allowed to ignore or diminish it.
Tea Party patriots are not the “astro-turfers” of Nancy Pelosi’s bewildered imagination. They are genuinely concerned American citizens like the patriots of 1773. They are not the “tea baggers” of Janine Garafolo’s degraded political discourse. They are decent people who always thought that a tea bag was something you put into a cup of hot water. They are not the “racists” that the mainstream media prattles on about at every opportunity. They are against the policies of the current government despite the fact that Mr. Obama is half-black, not because of it. They are not the “domestic terrorists” of Janet Napolitano’s paranoid fantasies. They are the kind of Americans who refused to allow terrorists to commandeer United Airlines Flight 93 to attack an American target on September 11, 2001.
The men and women of the American Tea Party movement are your neighbors. They are the people who will stand by your side in times of trouble. They are the citizens who see the danger to our nation from a tyrannical government, and who have the courage to stand up and be counted among the Sons and Daughters of Liberty. Just as Paul Revere rode through the night so many years ago to warn his fellow citizens that the government was on the march to suppress their freedom, today’s Tea Party patriots are sounding the alarm about a modern form of an ancient government tyranny.
Jed Gladstein is an attorney, author, and educator.