Monday, November 01, 2010


*This is a repost from a few months back, just something to consider for the election.

I've never been asked to speak at a Tea Party rally (or any other) and I expect the people who organize these things have never heard of me. I've been to a couple of these events and each time in the Salem rallies I've been frustrated with how its been mostly one Republican politician after another (with a few libertarians scattered in) rather than just folks. The movement isn't about politics its about the constitution, and it isn't about politicians, its about citizens. The Salem guys don't seem to understand this.

If I made a speech at one of these rallies, it would go something like this:
Good afternoon everyone, I'm glad to see so many people here. I'd like to ask everyone here a question, if I might... how many people here have read the United States Constitution? Just a show of hands... (presumably several would have, given the content of the rally). That's great, quite a few. It isn't a very long document, and it is actually easy to read for a legal paper. That puts you above most of the legislators and politicians in the capitol here (gesture behind me) and in Washington DC. (allow for crowd muttering)

When recently confronted with the question of where exactly in the Constitution congress was permitted to take control of health insurance, Democratic leadership was largely stumped, but a few tried to say it was in one clause or another, even if they had to invent one. Yeah, I know, that's pretty bad. After all, these are supposedly representatives of the people, chosen to do the job of governing in our place, according to our will and needs, so they ought to be at least as well-informed as the rest of us, right?

There's just one thing: we live in a Democratic Republic. Everyone who is serving as a representative in a political office in this nation was elected by you or me - or temporarily appointed by a duly elected politician. That means each of these people were chosen based on our votes, and put into power by our will. If they don't know what they are doing, if they don't understand the constitution or haven't read it that's our fault. It is far too easy, if justifiable, to throw rhetorical stones at the US Congress for their arrogant disregard for the will of the people and for their blatant disinterest in dealing with the issues we care most about. It is another thing entirely to look at the glass house of our own voting habits and care in selecting candidates.

I can hear some of you muttering "look at the crap we have to choose from" and you're right, usually we have a choice between one ignorant, unqualified bozo and another who is even more so. The last presidential election was one of the most painful examples of this in my lifetime: I didn't want either one in office; one was worse than the other. Yet again, whose fault is that? Yes, the party system tries to force on us one career lawyer after another lifetime politician, both of whom are good at being politicians but not so good at being representatives and statesmen. There is a lot of room for blame in the parties; their desire for power outweighs their interest in service. Their pragmatism far outweighs their integrity and far too easily honor is cast aside for compromise.

Yet the parties try to pick people they figure are most likely to be elected; they are looking for the person most likely to succeed, and they tend to be run by the people most driven by an interest and understanding of the system and how it works, not by people driven by a love for their nation and a desire for what is right and true. These aren't horrible people, they aren't crass cynics, they are simply the ones left over when the rest of us go home. They are the ones who'll bravely charge through the grinding gears and awful slime of the political system and after enough of that most people start to lose focus. These people didn't, and they end up in the positions they are to influence what happens.

Ultimately, in the system we enjoy in America due to the liberty bought for us at so dear a price over centuries of struggle, hard work, and even bloodshed, the only person we can blame for the government we get and the leadership we find in office is you and me. I can point at the fools in office with one finger, but three more are pointing right back at me, and rightly so. We have to try harder, do better, study more, and understand more completely the politicians offered up to us. We need to know the system better, know our laws better, and know our constitution better than any age before us. Thankfully, we have all the tools we need at our fingertips for just that effort.

We have a long, hard struggle ahead of us, as liberty always requires. Yet we have everything we need, if only we reach for these tools. Each of us can access the internet quickly and easily, even if you personally do not have an internet connection in your home. That vast sea of information and sleaze also is a storehouse of every document in American history of political, legal, and educational importance. What's more, it has the very things we need most to understand why Thomas Jefferson and James Madison concluded what they did about liberty and how the US should be constructed. It has the writings of Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and more ready to read and study.

Without knowing the basic ideas of the founding fathers and understanding why they came to the conclusions they did, all we do is echo and parrot what others have said before us. And when we do that, we not only cannot truly understand the implications of what the founding fathers said and bled and died for, but we cannot pass on that understanding to others. Like I said before, this is a long struggle, we have to undo almost a century of continual work by those who would undermine the very foundations of the United States and everything the founding fathers and Constitution stand for. It will take a long time - generations, even - to repair that damage.

The only way we can hope to do so is to, every one of us, in every opportunity, make sure we and everyone else knows what must be done and why. Those of you blessed by God enough to be parents - although God knows at times it may not feel like a blessing - have the greatest burden of responsibility. Your children are being educated by the world around you with a continual ocean of leftist ideology and rejection of the ideals that built this country up to what it is. Even if you home school, the entertainment media and even the educational materials you may use all try to slip a system of thought alien and contrary to what the founding fathers built for us to enjoy into the most innocuous of topics. Your kids will one day face the world without your guidance and when they fly free, they need every single tool and understanding to face that world without being overwhelmed.

Each of us have friends and family members and co workers, all of whom may not understand this country and its founding as they ought. Each of us can take every civil and reasonable opportunity to help them understand. The US Constitution really is a living document, in the sense that it grows and lives in the hearts and minds of every US citizen when it is understood and passed on. And there's something else we can and must do as far as our abilities permit.

Its all well and good to find good politicians to vote for and to support. There's just more every citizen has a duty to do in America, and that's to be involved in the system. Conservatives and Libertarians alike have spent most of the country's history standing on the sidelines, working hard and doing our jobs, but not getting into the ugly, nasty, staining guts of the actual political system. We let others do that while we keep the nation actually functioning. That's well and good, when things are working well. That time has passed; things aren't working well and this country desperately needs more than just an honest day's work for an honest day's pay.

Who among us knows enough of the world around us and the constitution to run for office? Who among us has the drive, the health, and the dedication to face the opposition and grinding animosity of the left to serve their country as a representative? The time for you to sit aside and talk about it has passed, it is time to step up. There are more serious people running for office now than I remember at any time in my life; that's good. We need even more. Because that's what the primary system is about.

Who among us will step up and become involved in the party system? Almost every position is voluntary, and that means only the most zealous or stubborn will actually get involved. If you don't care for how the Republican Party backs candidates, spends its money, advertises, and presents its self publicly, then this is your opportunity to make a difference. If you don't care for how the Democratic Party has abandoned its original charge of federalism, helping the little guy, and reaching out for the future, then this is your opportunity to make a difference. The local precincts elect the next highest rank in the party, who in turn elect the next highest, and so on. By getting involved locally, you affect the party nationally.

This means taking extra hours in a day, it means doing things we really don't want to do, and it means sometimes serving your fellow man when you'd rather go home and rest. Believe me, more than most I understand this. The Tea Party movement is well and good, but these rallies do not mean anything if all it does is meet on sunny days to carry signs around and listen to speeches. We have to get into the battle and fight hard, wherever we can and however we can, to make what we're upset about and opposed to change.

This November, many incumbents in Washington DC are about to feel our unleashed, collective wrath at their arrogance, corruption, and outright contempt for the American people. That's good; they serve at our desire, not the other way around. Yet after that happens, will you put down the signs and go home? Because electing more Republicans to congress will not make the problems go away. We have to stay involved, stay passionate, and stay active or we cannot win the battle. D-Day was an awful, bloody fight, but it was a long, long way from Victory. We cannot turn away once we've won a single major battle - and that means being involved everywhere and with everyone we can, to win the long war.

Thank you for your time.

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