Sunday, March 14, 2010
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.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Dialogue from Ray Pastora!
(as presented on WFMD am930 last week)
I am an adopted son of this great Republic. I proudly took the oath of citizenship on July 5th, 1985 and have been a proud American ever since. My family came to this country to escape Marxism and Leninism that was taking hold and strangling my native land. I have personally experienced government oppression based on class warfare and an assault on liberty.
My grandfather was a doctor in a small village who owned a small and very productive ranch. Marxists came and seized his land right after the Nicaraguan Revolution. He was labeled as bourgeoisie and put under arrest. I remember being a child and standing outside of the jail he was being held in the hopes that my family would be permitted to see him. He was an old man at the time and was put under house arrest under the guard of a child with a machine gun. This is how he died and I was never able to see him again.
I understand oppressive government. I understand the assault on liberty and freedom. Our Founding Fathers understood the frailty of freedom and how government needs to be structured to protect it. They created a Republic because of the understanding that Democracies inevitably fail.
What was the beauty of this new Republic? It was governed by a Constitution that was created not to control its citizens, but to put shackles on government in order to prevent tyranny. The Constitution created a system of checks and balances to protect any naked grab for power. But what has happened over the course of the last 100 years?
Our elected officials have abandoned the limits of the Constitution. The limits placed on the branches of government are being ignored and our public officials scoff at the idea of justifying their actions.
Naked disregard for our Constitution is the greatest threat to our individual liberty and freedom. Our Constitution is under assault by the executive and legislative branches of government. It's a process that isn't new, but is now no longer being masked. Questions of Constitutionality get deflected or laughed at or dismissed.
So now our country is at a crossroads. Do we run to the safety of a government that promises to solve all our problems while we give up our personal choice, or do wish to restore our freedom and liberty by freeing ourselves from the shackles of an obese Federal government.
There's a hard tyranny, like the one followed by Marxists and who were instrumental in the death of my grandfather. Then there is soft tyranny. Soft tyranny removes the freedom of basic and everyday choices from our lives as citizens without the threat of a gun to our head. Government currently controls banking, transportation, education, energy, student loans, and is in the process of seeking more power by taking over healthcare.
We are currently experiencing soft tyranny.
So is there hope? Is there an end to the mess we are in?
The one hope is the American people. While progressives deride the American people and insult everyday citizens with accusations of stupidity, the American people are proving the opposite. The American people are a sleeping giant that has awakened. All one has to do is look at the questions that Americans are asking at town halls and at protests. The arguments aren't about the policies, but are about the Constitutionality of the legislation and actions of our government. They're arguing with progressivism head on with words such as Constitution, freedom, liberty, and personal responsibility.
American citizens are devouring books on our Founding Fathers. They are organizing in groups like We Surround Them and educating themselves on Article 1, Section 8 of The Constitution. They are standing up to politicians and questioning the role of government and are fighting back against the rise of the nanny state.
We know as a people that our liberty is under threat.
We hunger for freedom. We seek to shake the shackles of tyranny and seek to restore our glorious Republic to it's Constitutional roots. November 2010 is only the beginning! We as a people will not be bamboozled anymore by politicians who claim to be for small government and waive around their pocket Constitutions while they vote in blatant disregard of that Constitution.
So I stand next to you, my fellow citizens. I stand next to you as an adopted son, willing to lead this restoration, for I have tasted tyranny and refuse to see it take root in my country! We are at the beginning of this Restoration and we will have liberty!
A government that has the power to give you everything you want has the power to take from you everything you need.