Perspectives from a Tea Party Rally

BY Herschel Smith
14 years, 1 month ago

As I have said before, En loco protestari or something like that.

The final words from the podium at tonight’s Tea Party at the Georgia state capitol were simple:  “We’ll remember in November.”  As I thought about those words on the way home, I was struck by how appropriate and well chosen they were.  Those words encouraged the crowd to do two things.  First, remember why they were there in the first place.  Remember what the current administration in Washington has done over the last 15 months to diminish our freedoms, weaken our standing in the world and push our nation deeper and deeper into debt.  Second, take action in response to that memory. Vote in November for a new direction.

The opposite of rememberance that results in action is forgetfulness that results in complacency.  Unfortunately, it is human nature to forget and to grow accustomed and accepting of the world around us.  It is human nature to forget and to accept, even if the reality that we left behind is far better than the new reality that we are living with.  So, in case you are tempted to a forgetfulness that results in complacency, let me remind you of a few things.

The founders of our country who wrote our Constitution and crafted our form of government brilliantly understood human nature.  They understood the danger of concentrating too much power in the hands of any one person or any one branch or level of government.  For that reason, they spread the powers of the national government across 3 co-equal branches of government, so that each branch could exercise checks and balances over the others.  We all know these things.

But what we often forget is that the founders also spread the powers of government across two different levels, the federal level of government and the state level of government.  They designed a government where the states had original and complete powers in most matters that affect the day-to-day lives of citizens.  As for the federal government, it was to be a government of limited powers.  So, the level of government that is the closest, and most accountable, to the people would have the greatest impact on their lives, and the level of government that is the farthest, and least accountable, to the people would have the least impact on their lives.  True to the original design of the founders, when George Washington became the first President of the United States, he had more people under his direct supervision at his home at Mount Vernon than he had under his direct supervision in the federal government.

Today, the federal government is the largest employer in the United States, and the overwhelming majority of those federal employees are un-elected bureaucrats who ultimately answer to one person, the President.  A few weeks ago, Congress and the President enacted a healthcare bill that puts the federal government in control of an ADDITIONAL 16% of our economy, matters where the states or individual citizens historically had been in charge, intimate and important matters that impact us on a personal level on a daily basis.  That power over intimate and important matters was taken away from us and from the states in which we live, pushed UP to the federal level of government, and concentrated IN to the branch of government filled with un-elected bureaucrats who answer to one President.  This is a concentration of enormous power in the Presidency and the un-elected bureaucracy that would have been unthinkable to our founders.  Prior to 18 months ago, it would have been unthinkable to me.  But November 2008 changed all of that.

I have not fogotten about that, and because I have not forgotten about that, I am motivated to do crazy things like take MARTA downtown after a long, stressful day at work and stand there in front of the capitol applauding and cheering with a crowd of people who, like me, remember.  And because they remember, they showed up to applaud and cheer, too.

It is true that our culture shapes our government.  It is especially true that the brilliance of our Constitution is a reflection of the exceptional individuals who crafted it and the exceptional culture from which they came.  BUT, that power to shape works in both directions.  Actions of the government can actually bring about changes in our culture.  In particular, the government, by its actions, can create dependencies.  By taking a larger and larger bite out of our earnings and promising us benefits in return, the government can make us into its dependents.  It is the maturation process in reverse.  We go from being independent adults to being children who are dependent upon a distant parent.  This kind of dependency is what will result from the enormous monstrosity that was enacted into law a few weeks ago.  (Never mind the fact that it almost certainly will be far more expensive than promised and will add to our already staggering national debt.  That is a topic for another night.)  All of these things I fear will happen, UNLESS, we do two very important things.  First, REMEMBER.  Second, ACT in response to that memory.

This is an election year.  For everyone reading this message, you have the opportunity at the very least to vote for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.  For most people, you also have the opportunity to vote for state officials and perhaps a U.S. Senator.  You also have the opportunity to inform yourself about the issues and the candidates, to share your opinions with others, to become involved in a campaign, to vote in a primary and, most importantly, to vote this November.

The final, and most imporant, way that our founders spread power was to spread the primary, the greatest and the most foundational power as broadly as possible.  They gave that power to us, the citizens.  Collectively, we can weild awesome power.  But it requires each of us, every one of us, to do our part.  What can make that happen?  The answers are simple:  REMEMBER and ACT!!!

Respectfully submitted,

Keith W. Smith, Esquire, Atlanta, Ga.


Comments

  1. On May 2, 2010 at 10:38 am, Warbucks said:

    There country seems to be at that fork in the road…. again! Over here on the right hand fork seems to be a well worn path meandering through my old play area of Comfort Zones where I know my footing, and over here on the left hand fork another trail that leads down into Pinokio’s Pleasure Island, where we can script our own change any way we want…. at least that what the sign says at the entry gate.

    Who’s that shill over there handing out pamphlets? Calls himself Weissberg does he? http://tinyurl.com/29oma9k

    We’ll see about that.

  2. On May 3, 2010 at 11:48 am, TSAlfabet said:

    I attended the Tax Day Tea Party in D.C. on 4/15/10 and was impressed, overall, by the ideas articulated and reasoning employed. It was not primarily an emotional vent session. For the most part, the speakers put forth arguments in favor of limited government and the abuse of power we see in D.C.

    My own, pet theory I am working on is a feasible way to devolve power back to the States. It is driven by the fundamental question: what can the Federal Government and ONLY the Federal Government do? Any function, power, service, benefit or good that can be delivered more effectively by ANYONE other than the Federal Government should be stripped away and given to that entity.

    The first place to begin answering this fundamental question is, of course, the U.S. Constitution. As far as I can tell, strictly speaking, only the Federal Government can: 1) field a national military force; 2) conduct foreign policy with all the attendant powers — treaties, trade agreements, basing rights etc.; 3) resolve legal disputes between the States in federal courts

    Everything else is up for discussion and the presumption should be that everything not specifically granted to the Feds should be given back to the States.

    This ties in with the article above: States and localities are far more accountable to the People. As an individual, I am far more empowered to effect change in my city and county and state because local elections are far more transparent and amenable to local action. Given the gerrymandered congressional districts and the failure to add more U.S. congressmen despite the huge increase in population, I have very little prospect of doing much at the federal level. Ultimately, if I live in a State with confiscatory tax rates and corrupt government, I can move to a better-run State (as literally millions of former Californians have done). There is no place of refuge, however, from the rapacious Federal Government.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Politics and was published April 15th, 2010 by Herschel Smith.

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