Friday, August 19, 2011

Gary Palmer: Founders left footprints for Tea Party to follow

  Frustrated by Republican members of Congress who would not allow any tax increases in the legislation to raise the U.S. debt limit, some Democrat leaders and liberal media pundits blamed the Tea Party. Accusing the Tea Party of holding the nation hostage, they further diminished themselves and their agenda by calling members of the Tea Party “terrorists.”

  That was pathetic.

  First of all, it is insulting and insensitive to those who have lost loved ones as a result of terrorist attacks or in the war against terror. Second, this latest verbal assault on the Tea Party is just another example of the dismissive and condescending attitude that liberals have toward people who oppose their reckless spending and big government agenda.  Entrenched politicians and government bureaucrats have always been dismissive of anyone who threatens their power or questions their authority. In earlier times, those in power used force to silence their critics. Since they can’t resort to that, today’s liberals are attempting to silence the tea party members by equating them with terrorists.

  Members of the Tea Party movement stand in the good company of other opponents of abusive and arrogant government. Our forefathers endured similar treatment when they stood up to the British government and demanded the right to continue governing themselves.

  Before gaining independence, the American colonies basically governed themselves with little interference from the British government. They elected their own legislative assemblies through which they collected taxes, raised and funded militias, provided for public works, and established law enforcement and courts of justice.

  It was not just opposition to taxes that led to the American Revolution. It was also the British government’s arrogant and abusive interference with what the colonies had come to believe was their right to govern themselves.

  The leaders of colonial America did not necessarily oppose paying taxes to the British government. They opposed the British government imposing taxes upon them without their consent. The colonists considered themselves to be English citizens with all the protections of the fundamental rights of English common law including the right to be taxed by consent. The colonists had no representation in Parliament, thus in their view, any taxes had to be approved through their colonial assemblies. When the British government began imposing new taxes without the consent of the colonists, they violated the fundamental rights of the colonists.

  When the colonists appealed through their elected assemblies to the British government to recognize their rights, their appeals were not only ignored, they were arrogantly dismissed.

  Because the colonies had a long history of self-government, our Founders did not seek to create a federal government that would infringe on the rights of the people to govern themselves through their local assemblies. It was from this experience of self-government by the individual colonies that our Founding Fathers designed a federal government with limited and enumerated powers that allowed the states to continue to be sovereign in all but a limited sphere. They never intended to create a massive federal government that would threaten property rights, pillage the earnings of the people, bankrupt the nation through reckless fiscal policy and strangle our economy by imposing thousands upon thousands of pages of regulations on business and industry. But that is exactly what is happening today and millions of Americans have joined Tea Party groups in opposition.

  Part of the problem with the British government during colonial times is that few of the members of Parliament had ever been to America. They were not familiar with the culture, customs and everyday life of the people they were trying to govern. Consequently, they were out of touch with the people.

  The same problem exists today between those in power and ordinary Americans. The politicians and bureaucrats in Washington have become a political class of ruling elites with little in common with the rest of America. When grassroots Americans from all across the nation started showing up at town hall meetings to voice opposition to the health care bill, Nancy Pelosi, the former Democrat Speaker of the House, referred to them as “astro-turf” and called them “un-American.” As the Tea Party movement has grown in size and influence, liberals have tried to cast them as dangerous, radical and even racist.

  Most people think the battle raging in Washington is simply about government spending and debt. But it is also about power. That is why liberals in both parties are so dismissive of and even hostile toward the Tea Party movement. It is a threat to their power. In challenging that power, the Tea Party is following in the footsteps of our Founding Fathers.

  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.

  This article was published by the Alabama Policy Institute.

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