Sunday, March 14, 2010
Building a Bridge: From TEA to Coffee
Building a Bridge: From TEA to Coffee
By: Joshua J. Lyons | March 14, 2010
The movements that have grown in the past year have provided important outlets for average citizens. They have also been moving targets for those on the periphery to paint or define. The greatest strength of the TEA Party is also sometimes its greatest weakness; it is decentralized and without uniform leadership. The greatest strength of the newly formed Coffee Party is that it is an alternative outlet to the TEA Party.
For those in the TEA Party who think that stopping or removing our current president will solve our problems – NEWS FLASH: These problems have been building for well over 100 years! For those in the Coffee Party who think that the TEA Party is a Republican front group consisting of racist crackers who do not want poor people to have healthcare – NEWS FLASH: We’re primarily your neighbors who do not like the direction our nation is headed.
Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of each group's participants are not knuckle-dragging, racists or granola-eating Marxists. However, we must acknowledge that both warm beverage parties' include people who:
- are only complainers
- are partisan to the core
- are uninformed of history
- have blinding prejudices
- believe their cable news channel tells the truth
- do not think beyond what the talking heads tell them
Just because each group includes those that fit these descriptions (sometimes in organizing positions), we should not paint the entire TEA or Coffee movement with a single stroke of a broad brush. I state this because most participants are normal citizens fed up with seemingly unsolvable problems. It is because of this actuality that I believe bridges can be built between the TEA and Coffee partiers. I also believe that we have more in common than not. I have been able to have meaningful conversations with those who do not hold my same views. These conversations have not always resulted in the changing of positions. But they have positively affected each other’s understanding of the other person’s views and why they hold these views. At a minimum, an appreciation of the other person’s perspectives was born.
Moving forward, the single most important question that must be answered is around our general government’s charter document: Is the US Constitution a constant document (with a specific process defining how to amend it) or is it to be interpreted through the then current cultural lens? I submit to the former.
The second most important topic that must be addressed is Democracy vs. Republic. I believe our form of government was established as a Constitutional Republic (including a democratic element for choosing representatives). A good definition of my position is illustrated in this video.
A third most important topic we must resolve is one of authority. I believe that the state governments created the federal government and granted it limited authority (i.e. defined in the Constitution and clarified within the Bill of Rights). The founders designed a federal system of governance (i.e. federalism), one in which two governments have jurisdiction over the inhabitants. Furthermore, authority granted to the federal government is defined within the Constitution while the balance is retained by the states and the people. This allows for the states to serve 50 sovereign laboratories of experimentation. A good definition of my position is illustrated in this video.
Many will accurately point out that much of this has already been ‘resolved’ by case law and precedent, to which I submit this two part rhetorical question: A) Was that the founders’ intent and B) how’s that working out for us?
Readers may not share my views, but I have great optimism that if we continue this discussion with civility (i.e. choosing not to fall into the trap of calling the other side names); we can have a positive impact on the national dialogue.
Joshua is the co-host of The Forgotten Men radio show Saturdays at 12 noon, Eastern, on AM930 WFMD – and the co-founder of We Surround Them Frederick.