Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Tea Party Movement

Over at the American Thinker this morning, I ran across an article by Kyle-Anne Shriver titled Tea Parties: Misunderstood and Vastly Underrated. This is one of the first articles written about the burgeoning movement that generally does a good job of explaining some of its evolving themes.

The Movement is beginning to take shape as more and more average citizens get involved and begin to translate their sign waving and hand clapping into what that really want. For what it’s worth, as a Tea Party Organizer myself, here are the general themes I see emerging from this group:

First, it’s not about a political party. Sure, sure, the groups are undeniably largely populated by disenfranchised republicans, conservatives and libertarians…this is unarguable. But there are democrats and moderates who are uneasy about where the country is heading and are attending these meetings as well. With that stated, very few that I speak with, and I speak to hundreds of people, are looking to a political party to solve the problems were in. In fact, the phrase I hear over and over and over again is this; “I’m a republican but I’m thinking of leaving the party and changing to independent.” When I ask why, it’s clear the average citizen sees both parties as essentially one in the same and both will lead to further infringement on liberty.

Second, most in the Tea Party Movement see their fundamental liberties under assault by an ever expanding BIG GOVERNMENT. They may not be able to quote the legislative act that encumbered a particular freedom, but something visceral, way down in their gut tells them that something is very wrong. This translates into action for them as they fear for their children and grand-children’s future.

Third, they’re willing, unlike the average politician, to take responsibility for the mess we’re in. While the average politician is always looking to the next election and how to capture a particular demographic, they rarely look back at how they contributed to the mess (click here if you want the pants scared off you). On the other hand, the average citizen attending a Tea Party is perfectly willing to accept the fact that they were asleep at the wheel, didn’t pay attention, voted based on party loyalty and generally only cared if something was happening in DC that affected them directly. Now that they’re no longer asleep (a posture by the way that politicians love the average citizen to be in), they’re beginning to study (typically Madison, Jefferson), read their pocket Constitution, and get acquainted with the Declaration of Independence. Somehow, these charter documents feel like a safe harbor, a place where a free people were born and they long for a reappearance of Thomas Jefferson to guide them out of the mess we’re in just as he did when British tyranny existed.

Fourth, now that they’re willing to accept their responsibility for the mess we’re in, members of the Tea Party Movement are willing to get to work AND sacrifice to fix it. As I’ve personally told the group I’m involved in, we’re at a “pick you pain” moment in history and most people in the audience noddingly approve the statement. We all “get it” that any solution at this point will involve pain and we largely ignore the political class that tries to tell us that “everything will be ok.” We know they’re not telling us the truth.

We’re all coming around to the idea that it’s really not Obama we’re angry with; people are beginning to see that BIG GOVERNMENT is the play-ground of BOTH parties. Thus, you’re seeing fewer and fewer anti-Obama signs and more and more Declaration of Independence and Constitution signs at rallies…this should tell us something about the views of the Movement. Recently, as a talk-show host on 930 WFMD, I went to the rally in DC regarding healthcare reform. Sure there we’re many anti-Obama folks there, but the majority of the folks that I interviewed from across the country were troubled by the extra-Constitutional healthcare legislation…that’s right, EXTRA-Constitutional. Not a person I spoke to, and I spoke to dozens and interviewed many, were there because they were republicans, rather they felt the Constitution was somehow under attack. Admittedly, only one person could clearly articulate which provision in the Constitution they believed was being violated, but that misses the point of this movement’s evolution; these folks, just average citizens, were able to clearly identify that Congress was about to way overstep its authority with this vote and they wanted to make sure their voices were heard.

Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, the real antagonist in this drama is slowly being revealed and coming into focus…BIG GOVERNMENT. People, hard working average citizens who carry the burden of paying for Washington are plain ole’ fed up with it and know that the only real solution is to somehow radically reduce its influence. Most are content to look to the State’s Rights movement and the 10th Amendment for their solutions right now and are hopeful that personalities like Judge Napolitano and websites like the Tenth Amendment Center can provide direction. But the people I spoke with aren’t content with simply writing letters or making phone calls or even just attending rally’s. They’re willing to hold their powder dry for now, but they’re beginning to see that the solutions to America’s problems lays in their hands; not the elite political class only thinking through the myopic lens of the next election and how to get their turn at the helm of BIG GOVERNMENT (see the recurring theme in the article?).

Finally, for now, the Tea Party Movement is organic and independent; which is a really good thing. It has not allowed itself to be co-opted by a political party, at least at this point, and resists any attempt to promote a particular candidate. In fact, recently, the tea partiers in Florida took the step of actually forming a new party in their state as a way to ensure the parties, especially the republican party doesn’t co-opt it. I have no idea whether or not a majority of the tea party members in Florida support this or not. But clearly, this demonstrates the independent nature of this movement; it want’s to be heard and not identified with the very system that has created the mess.

Will it succeed? Will the Tea Party movement see its promised land of flourishing freedom, keeping one’s own property and hard earned income, the ability to wildly succeed or just as spectacularly fail in a venture, the freedom to chose who to give charity to rather than being forced to though BIG GOVERNMENT mandated entitlement programs? I’m not sure. One thing I am sure of though, I’m hearing more and more clarion calls from history in the people I talk to and it goes something like this:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

Immediatly followed by:
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
The real question is, will another Thomas Jefferson emerge and make the government “fear the people again?”

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cat Out Of The Bag?

by Joshua J. Lyons
Originally published HERE at The Tenth Amendment Center on 11/11/09

I can’t recall how many times I’ve written or talked about the Healthcare legislation not being about healthcare. It is interesting that a recent Wall Street Journal article validates this notion. The author of the article covered a piece on the New Yorker’s website from...

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Healthcare Legislation Is Not About Healthcare

by Joshua J. Lyons
Originally published HERE at The Tenth Amendment Center on 11/5/09

As I originally blogged back in August, the healthcare legislation is not about healthcare; the entire purpose of the healthcare legislation is to centralize control in the hands of the federal government. From enumeration of powers to the ninth and tenth amendments, our founders relentlessly tried to protect our nation from a future tyrannical central ...

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Is retaking the GOP the real goal of the Tea Party Movement?

November 6, 2009
By Mark Kreslins

I read an October 28, 2009 article by JB Williams over at Canada Free Press titled “Tangible Tea Party Tactics” in which Williams argues that a primary tactic should be to take over the GOP. Williams frames these tactics as tangible and at first glance, he would seem to be correct and perhaps even plausible. But, is that really the point of the Tea Party Movement? Is it really a movement that seeks to simply replace the current crop of liberal democrats in the Congress with a conservative group of republicans?

While I laud the idea and the passion behind it, I’m afraid this will fall well short of the wholesale change that is really needed in Washington DC and by change, I mean real change.

In President Clinton’s first campaign, James Carville coined a famous phrase that defined the Clinton Campaign…it’s the economy stupid! For the Tea Party Movement, our opposition to republican or democrat candidates should be summed up in another simple phrase…it’s the big federal government and two party system stupid! In my view, the battle between Dede Scozzafava and newcomer Doug Hoffman in NY-23 was really a proxy war between the conservative/Tea Party movement and status quo big federal government two party system. With Scozzafava knocked out the NRCC desperately tried to associate itself with Hoffman only to kick him to the curb when he lost…now that’s the kind of principle I can rally around.

The two-party system has failed miserably as sadly, both parties support the status quo…BIG GOVERNMENT and therein lies the problem.

The fundamental question is whether this is what the Founders desired?

If we believe the Founders wanted a HUGE bloated ever-encroaching federal bureaucracy, the current two-party system fits the bill. However, there’s one problem with this scenario, we have to assume the Founders failed to realize that one-half of the country would perpetually be angry at the other. They must have also failed to realize that this anger would at times be expressed in rather violent terms such as the one I heard yesterday as I attended the “Republican Rally” in Washington DC. One fella, standing about 15 feet away from me wasn’t content with the “kill the bill” chant. No, he had to modify it to “kill the traitors” chant of his own. Fortunately, not many people around him joined in the chant, but I wonder about his friends back home.

So, is the problem really that the GOP isn’t populated with enough “conservative republicans” (whatever that means) and that the republicans aren’t in control? My experience tells me that’s not the problem.

Think of it this way; let your mind wander to a time where the federal government isn’t allowed, by a binding constitution, to grow to its current size. What would life be like if the federal government was forced to reduce its spending (and thus our taxes) back to pre-New Deal days of say around 5% of GDP? That would take the current budget from $3.8 TRILLION down to a more manageable $700 Billion.

Now, with only $700 Billion to spend, perhaps the job of Congressman wouldn’t be as coveted as it is now. Perhaps the special interests wouldn’t be so tempted to gerrymander elections with less than noble intentions and the Congress would be left largely to focus on their Constitutional responsibilities listed in Article 1. Section 8. of the Constitution.

Hmmm, whatever would they do with their time!

Sadly, this can only be seen if we let our minds wander; for the reality is, the two-party system will never allow this dream to become a reality unless We the People make them. They love their ruling seats in the Congress. How do I know this? I saw it first hand as a Legislative Assistant back in the 1980’s. Lord Acton was indeed correct, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

So, the average Congressperson has no problem whispering into the constituent’s ear, “pssst, don’t worry, I’ll take care of you” all the while reaching behind you, taking out your wallet and slipping out a few more dollars along with our liberties and we reply, “ahhh, they really care for us.”

Nonsense! Until We the People conclude that the problem is the two-party system and its marriage to a HUGE bloated federal government, Congress will continue its drunken sailor spending even though I suspect most of us emphatically don’t want a $3.8 Trillion dollar government or a $105 Trillion dollar debt created by a VERY unpopular Congress. Do we really think the republicans will reduce this…really?

It’s been said that a parent will fight to the death to stop a threat their children. It’s my belief that most Tea Party Movement members feel their children are being threatened by the HUGE bloated centralized federal government. The question is, are they really ready to fight?

Most recently, the symbol of an all powerful all knowing federal government has taken the form of healthcare reform. Specifically, one party (democrats) ignores the recent polling while another (republican) ignores the extra-constitutional realities of healthcare reform on Capitol Hill paying mere lip service to its unconstitutionality. Nancy Pelosi was quoted as saying “are you serious” when asked for the specific Constitutional Authority to pass healthcare legislation. The tenor of her response was clearly, “how dare you ask me that question; don’t you know who I am? I’m Nancy Pelosi and I’m the Speaker of the House and the Congress can do anything it wants and there’s not a darn thing you paean’s can do to stop us.”

Oh Yeah!

So, what should the Tea Party Movement really commit to and what should we do to obtain these goals?

The Tea Party Movement Should:

First, stop focusing on the two-party system. Simply taking over the GOP, as if that could ever really happen, is an extremely time-consuming proposition at best. And even if the Tea Party Movement was successful, when will this “New GOP” start addressing the real problem…BIG GOVERNMENT? We don’t have a lot of times folks, the clock is running.

Second, perhaps we should spend our time coalescing around a few “real change” ideas listed below and strategize on how we get the country back to the Founders original intent. This would necessitate really hard decisions and really hard work, but aren’t our children and grandchildren worth it. Or are we content shifting the chairs around on the Titanic with the current two-party system.

Thus, I present the following list of Really Tough Decisions (RTD’S)!

RTD #1 – Agree that the federal government must be shrunk in accordance with the original meaning of the United States Constitution. To do this, we must demand that some congressperson, any congressperson, introduce legislation to dismantle all entitlement, corporate welfare, and subsidy programs by 2020. This includes, but is not limited to: Social Security, Medicare, SCHIP, Medicaid, Farm Subsidies, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. I suspect we’re all aware that that this will be an incredibly difficult and painful task. But, as we all know, these programs are unsustainable and will eventually engulf the entire federal budget and take more and more from the working public. We’re in a pick your pain moment, I’d prefer to pick the pain that will give us back our liberty.

RTD #2 - Repeal the Tax Payment Act of 1943 and end employer withholding of taxes. This simple act will raise the level of awareness and accountability as each taxpayer is required to pay their taxes on an annual basis via a tax return. When people actually have to write a check to the newly formed Tax Collection Agency (see RTD #3), there will be a much greater interest in how the federal government spends our money. Never forget, the money they spend is ours, not theirs.

RTD #3 - Introduce legislation to change the name of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to the Tax Collection Agency (TCA).

RTD #4 - Introduce a Constitutional Amendment to repeal the 16th Amendment which gives the power of the federal government to tax property (income).

RTD #5 - Introduce a Constitutional Amendment to repeal the 17th Amendment and return to the original design for the State legislatures to appoint Federal Senators, thus giving the States the intended check on Federal legislation.

RTD #6 - Introduce Constitutional Amendments to define the so-called General Welfare, Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses in Article 1. Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution in accordance with the original meaning of the words as debated during the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

RTD #7 - Introduce a Constitutional Amendment requiring Congress to not exceed the Enumerated Powers in Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. This Amendment will prevent future Congresses from ever putting the country in jeopardy again as they have now with promises totaling $105 TRILLION dollars…a debt we can never pay.

RTD #8 - Introduce a Constitutional Amendment to require a balanced federal budget with the following exceptions: (a) A properly declared war by the Congress in accordance with the Constitution at which time the increased spending can only occur during the period of the war and shall end within 2 years of the cessation of military activities; (b) Incidences of national security events to which the budget increase may only be appropriated to military expenditures to protect the nation; (c) The balanced budget must be no larger than 5% of GDP.

RTD #9 -Introduce legislation to modify SEC. 5. (b) of the War Powers Act to read: Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1), whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or (2) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces within the additional thirty day period.

RTD #10- Support 10th Amendment legislation at the State level ensuring that the people of a particular state have at its disposal the greatest tool of liberty…self determination.

What should the Tea Party be willing to do achieve these goals?

1. Vote against any politician that will not embrace these goals.
2. Encourage and support candidates willing to restore a vision of limited government to our country.
3. Participate in acts of civil disobedience to raise awareness of the tyrannical behavior of the federal government.
4. Urge state legislatures to compel the federal government to stay within the Enumerated Powers of Article 1 Section 8 in compliance with the original meaning of the Founding Fathers using 10th Amendment legislation and other Constitutional Amendment means.
5. Educate, educate, educate on the Founders vision of a very limited federal government.

It’s my belief that the media and two-party system entirely miss the point of the Tea Party Movement. As the Movement coalesces, both should be aware that average Tea Party members:

- Are not content writing letters to our Congressman only to be ignored by them.
- Are not content writing letters to the Editor only to debate the same issue over and over and over again.
- Are not content simply meeting and complaining.
- Will no longer accept political double speak.
- Will no longer allow the federal government to force us to pay for programs that are beyond the Enumerated Powers in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution.
- Will not allow the irresponsible federal government to bankrupt our children’s future.
- Will only be satisfied when the federal government is radically shrunk and its influence over the average American and American business has been severely contained in keeping with the Founding Fathers principle of limited government.

In the end, I believe that if the Really Tough Decisions listed above are adopted by the Tea Party Movement, only then will liberty, true liberty, be restored. And should we reach this point of unity it will be with great enthusiasm that the Tea Party Movement will put the the federal government notice; they must prepare for the Sovereign States and We the People to assert our Constitutional rights. This will likely come come in the form of nullification legislation from the states against federal legislation that is not in keeping with their states priorities via the 10th Amendment or proposed Constitutional Amendments.

Failing to understand this misses the entire point of the Tea Party Movement…at everyone’s peril.

(Mark is the co-host of The Forgotten Men radio show Saturdays at 12noon on 930 WFMD and the co-founder of We Surround Them Frederick)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Are You Finally Ready To Trust Your Conscience?

Are You Finally Ready To Trust Your Conscience?
by Joshua J. Lyons
Originally published HERE at The Tenth Amendment Center on 10/31/09

Most politicians are not bad people, but the system has a way of chewing them up and spitting them out. Once in the system, they learn to play the game and almost always compromise their integrity when it can be justified and even sometimes when it cannot. This is done while we look the other way if it’s “our guy” and/or they give us something we want. That’s the insidiousness of democracy and these “representatives” continue to do anything to stay in power.

Many of the problems that we face today can mostly be chalked up to our divisions fueled by our two beloved major parties. While we’re fighting each other and pinning down scapegoats, the hotshot politicians are laughing all the way to the bank (you know…Citi, Goldman, so on and so forth).

I don’t believe citizens who still identify themselves as Republicans and Democrats are happy with the destination that either of our parties is taking us; they simply don’t know how to address mess they find themselves in. My gut tells me that the majority my fellow citizens want a representative to rely on defined accountability, common sense, and a set of principles that value the unalienable rights and responsibilities of the individual.

Additionally, I don’t believe the moderates and independents are the sissy’s that they’re portrayed to be. I don’t think these folks “just want everybody to get along” like a sad Rodney King line. I think they are looking for a leader to say what he means and does what he says – PERIOD! Many of the people in this group have simply caught on to the game that the politicians have been playing for so long.

Accountability is a key to success. We the People forget what we ate for dinner last night; politicians count on this! Make your campaigning representatives document what they will and won’t do, and make them provide you with a report card on how they are living up to their promises! With web technology, this is beyond simple.

We need citizen statesmen, not career politicians. Career “public servants” result in massive corruption. When you see earmarks by a representative – this is not actually us getting “our piece of the pie.” Although generally accepted as a necessary evil, make no mistake – this is unethical and it robs us citizens of our proper influence! Until we stand our ground, our masters will manipulate and control us. It is our responsibility to not hire a snake oil salesman even if his opponent is greasier! Doing so will stifle proper representation – we will never see honorable people if we keep up this perpetual cycle!

Another key to success is that We the People must also not ask our campaigning representatives to give us everything under the sun. Here’s a secret…it sends the wrong message. When we tell them we’ll vote for them if they take care of us…what do think they’re going to do? They’ll take your vote, assure you that everything will be alright with them at the helm, and then move on to the next sucker.

These things aren’t easy to hear…they’re not easy to say – that’s why almost no one says them. But these are not times where we have the luxury to not be direct…nor do I think you want a load of bullocks…do you?! You know how many people I’m going to tick off because of what I’m saying? People have deep seeded ties to parties, candidates, and friends in high places. It doesn’t matter…IT CAN’T MATTER. If we keep down this path much longer – we will follow the lemming leaders right off the cliff!

I am not going to follow them, but I am going to look for a principled, citizen statesmen. One who would represent me only to the extent of where their authority ends.

The Federal candidate I want to hear from would state the following:

-I will run for office for no more than “X” years
-I will not weigh in on matters not specifically enumerated in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution as was originally followed for the first 70 years of the nation
-I will use my position to inform my constituents through various media outlets of the corruption in government and the usurpation of the rights and responsibilities of the states and their citizens
-I believe that my actions in this life will affect judgment by my Creator and I am fully aware of the consequences
-I will document my adherence to these promises on the front page of my website

The State candidate I want to hear from would state the following:

-I will run for office for no more than “X” years
-I will, through legislation and bully pulpit, assert the rights and responsibilities of my state and its citizens and hold the federal government accountable for its usurpations of authority not granted to them.
-I will use my position to inform my constituents through various media outlets of the corruption in government and the usurpation of the rights and responsibilities of counties, municipalities, and individuals
-I believe that my actions in this life will affect judgment by my Creator and I am fully aware of the consequences
-I will document my adherence to these promises on the front page of my website

Even if you think this is unrealistic because, “hey, that’s just politics.” Isn’t this how you’ve been feeling?

Come join us and become part of the growing movement – this is one bandwagon it’s ok to hop on. Our children’s future depends on it.

(Joshua is the co-host of The Forgotten Men radio show Saturdays at 12noon, Eastern, on 930 WFMD – and the co-founder of We Surround Them Frederick)

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