Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gary Palmer: Tax Day - Time to tea party!

  On April 15th across the nation, Americans will gather to voice their grievances against the abuses of our government and to protest everything from the nationalization of our health care system to out-of-control spending to rising taxes. But if those are the only reasons people are gathering at the Tea Parties, they are there for the wrong reasons.

  The modern Tea Party movement has been fueled by public opposition to the reckless spending of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress and more recently by opposition to the liberal agenda being imposed by the current Democrat majority. The modern movement harkens back to the colonial protests against the abuses of the British government that eventually led to American independence. But while the emphasis of today's Tea Party protesters bears some resemblance to the colonial issues, there is a fundamental emphasis that may be missing.

  Most Americans still associate the words of the great Virginia patriot Patrick Henry, "Give me liberty or give me death," to America's struggle for independence. But there was much more to Henry's speech, which he delivered on March 23, 1775 at St. John's Church in Richmond, Virginia, than his dramatic ending. In his second paragraph, Henry said he considered the issue before the colonies "... as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery." In that regard, Henry said they should have a free and open debate because it was only in that way they could "... hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country."

  This begs some thoughtful questions. What is the truth about the issues that led our nation to this current crisis? Does the current generation owe a great responsibility to God and our country? If we do, what is that responsibility?

  Historically, the issue the American colonies had with the British was not so much over taxation. The American colonies provided revenue to Britain through their colonial assemblies, which were their elected representatives. And for the most part, the Americans did not have a problem with the idea that the British government had a right to expect the colonies to pay taxes. American colonists were well aware of the fact the British had expended considerable resources defending the colonists during the French and Indian War and they continued to protect American interests.

  The problems in the years leading up to American independence were more about 'how' the British taxed the American colonies than 'how much' they were taxed. The British Parliament was disdainful of the colonists' protests against the Parliament's tax policies which British Prime Minister, William Pitt (the Elder), described as "... taking money out of their pockets." It was the British government's arrogant use of power that the American people resented the most; they would not be treated as slaves. They claimed the rights of British citizens, the rights granted by the Magna Carta in 1215, the great charter of freedoms that British citizens held as a sacred trust in much the same way modern Americans view our Constitution.

  In 1775 the Magna Carta was 560 years old, more than twice the age of our Constitution. No sensible British citizen, be they an American colonist or a member of Parliament, believed the Magna Carta was a living document, subject to different interpretations and hidden meanings. American colonists considered themselves to be British citizens and as such, they viewed direct taxation by Parliament as a violation of their rights. They believed that only their elected colonial assemblies had the right and the power to impose and collect taxes.

  Thus, when Henry and other American patriots spoke against the abuses of the British government, taxes, tariffs and the other issues were really symptoms of a much bigger problem. To deny them the freedom they believed was theirs was to violate principles that were, in the minds of the colonists, immutable. It came down to one thing-their right to live and govern themselves as free people-and that is what it comes down to today.

  So do we have a responsibility to God and our country today to stand up against the abuse of our rights? I think we do, but it goes beyond our right to choose our own doctors or health insurance plan or restraining the government from spending the country into bankruptcy or taxing ourselves into a long-term economic decline. It is the responsibility to stand up for our nation and our Constitution and to stand up for our faith and freedom.

  On March 23, 2010, the 235th anniversary of Patrick Henry's speech, President Obama signed into law a health care reform bill that violates our Constitution and undermines our freedom. Repealing the health care bill or any of the other legislation will not address the real crisis we face. The great challenge before us now is to restore the full authority of the Constitution.

  In so doing, we will restore to ourselves and our posterity, our right to govern ourselves and live as free people. And that is what should be the primary motivator for Americans to participate in a Tea Party rally.

  About the author: Gary Palmer is president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families, which are indispensable to a prosperous society.

1 comment:

  1. Where was Mr. Palmer's outrage at the trampling of rights and freedoms when the Bush White House, with a Republican Congress's blessing, rounded up supposed "terrorists," including many US citizens, held them in undisclosed locations without access to legal counsel or even formal charges, tortured, even killed some of them, and to this day has not proven that a single one of them is actually a terrorist? Where is Mr. Palmer's outrage at Southern governors who continue to celebrate that anti-Constitutional symbol of sedition and human slavery, the Confederacy? Mr. Palmer doesn't care about the Constitution and has no respect for its tenets. Mr. Palmer is just another arch-conservative who wants to pretend that conservatives like him, people with no real understanding of true Christianity, are the only "real" Americans. He wants to pretend that what is being done by our government is an outrage and affront to our freedom and liberty when, in fact, it is our democracy at its finest doing its job. We have a democratically-elected president and democratically-elected legislators advancing a liberal agenda because a MAJORITY of American voters elected them to do so. I for one voted for our president on the expectation that he would refrom health care, and I am not disappointed. Mr. Palmer and his conservative friends can wear tea bags on their period piece hats, wrap themselves in flags, discourse from the podium at Tea Party rallies on their silly interpretations of God and liberty until they swell like the toads they are with self-satisfaction. But they know who they really are: just some conservatives full of impotent rage over their loss of political power, furious that the government and the country are now moving in a different direction. You had better get used to change you don't like Mr. Palmer. You ain't seen nothin' yet.