Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Message to the Tea Party

In March, I delivered a speech at a fundraiser for a congressional candidate. Even though the candidate is not in my district, I have donated to his campaign because I think he is good, and the theme of my brief speech was, in essence, why I would support a candidate not in my district. I thought I would repost this speech since it is generally applicable to the Tea Party movement as a whole. Also, I encourage anyone speaking at an event to use any of the language here if you think it helps. (note: I have made some minor edits to make more applicable and since this was a private fundraiser, and I didn't ask for permission from the campaign, I just refer to him as the candidate.)

HOW TO DESERVE SUCCESS

I don't live in this district. So, what am I doing here and why would I support this candidate?

After all, I'm not here for a special handout or favor. I don't seek to rob your earnings in order to pay my medical bills or subsidize my mortgage payments. I'm not here to ask you to bailout my business because it is too big to fail. I'm not here to try and regulate every aspect of your life, to track every penny you make and spend so that I can exact tribute through every imaginable tax. I'm not here to waste everything you have worked for including your life savings, your income, and your future income while burdening you with trillions of dollars of debt and stifling regulations.


I’m here, because I wish to be left alone.


But, I’m under attack. Anyone who works for a living is under attack. Anyone who believes in personal responsibility, the right to speak his mind, own property, and to trade freely is under attack. America is under attack.

So why come here tonight and support this candidate?


I’m here because I recognize that the fight we have is not just with the Democrats - we know what they stand for - they stand for the dead end of welfare statism and socialism, the redistribution of wealth; they pose as defenders of civil liberties, yet, like all socialists throughout history, they seek to use the power of the state to censor and stifle their enemies; they seek to use the apparatus of the state to gain ever more power – they seek to shower this largess on their favored constituencies by throttling the productive and by crippling the entrepreneur with ever increasing taxes and regulations; there is no tactic, as we’ve witnessed lately, including subversion of the democratic process itself, that is beyond them – for them, the ends justifies the means…


Winning an intellectual battle requires the clarity that results from moral and intellectual certainty. You can not win a battle like this with unprincipled opposition and cowardly compromise. Such an approach has characterized the Republican Party for far too long and observe what it has brought: If the Democrats want to give 950 Billion dollars to the latest entitlement, the Republicans object vehemently, and counter propose 925 billion … It is the Republicans that have failed to stand on principle in defending our rights.

The nature of this debate is not the minutia of the latest 2700 page bill out of Washington. We must raise the level of the debate to more fundamental questions such as: what is the proper function of government? [We] must challenge the moral premise of the welfare state – not only its degree. Today, we are in a similar position to our Founding Fathers who did ask those questions. They too found their freedom under attack.

But, unlike today’s Republicans, when the Crown imposed a stamp tax, the Founding Fathers did not settle for “repeal and replace” as Mitch McConnell recently proposed with respect to the health care bill. They sought repeal… and repeal.


Just like another modern dictator, King George didn't respond to the colonist’s anger and petition for repeal. Like the present administration and Congress, the British Parliament responded with more taxes and threats, daring the colonists to defy them. Did Patrick Henry declare "give me liberty or a 2.3% reduction in the tea tax!"? He said "give me liberty or give me death!" They refused to pay any tax and famously dumped tea into the Boston Harbor. When the King responded with even more taxes and regulations in 1774, the colonists didn't merely seek a 25% reduction in the number of troops quartered per house (or in today's terms, 16,000 less IRS agents) - they rebelled.


America was founded in revolution. But, this revolution was not only a military revolution. It was an intellectual and moral revolution. The Enlightenment spirit meant a culture that revered the power of the individual mind and a culture that demanded the political right for each individual to pursue his own life, liberty and happiness. Men who believe in the power of their own independent mind and seek to rely on their own judgment can not and will not be ruled.


There were many who believed we should compromise with the British – so they battled themselves as well as the British. Would they back down and settle for being half serf or would they risk their lives to assert their unalienable rights and declare independence from tyranny? Thankfully, they realized that in principle, any violation of individual liberty made them subjects to a far away king and chose to settle for nothing less than a Declaration of Independence.

Those who value the Bill of Rights, the rule of law, and constitutional protections of individual rights, understand that this battle is not only between us and the tyrants in the left wing of the Democratic Party. The battle is over how to respond. Do we compromise and try and merely slow the abrogation of our rights and the collapse of civilization as we know it - or do we fundamentally challenge the moral and political ideology of our opponents?

Ask yourself this: who is more likely to win? Cowardly compromisers who “me too” every boondoggle out of Washington or unyielding, principled, consistent defenders of the rule of law, individual liberty, and free markets?


In the harsh winter of 1776, in the depths of despair, after sustaining horrendous casualties in the Battle of New York, with a demoralized rag tag army of farmers and shopkeepers, with enlistments set to expire, and with it, the American Revolution, Washington had the words of Thomas Paine read aloud to his troops - The American Crisis started with the famous words:

"These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered;"

Those words were written by an English immigrant, Thomas Paine who had left his country behind in 1774 to fight for his values – America’s values. Now, I would not immigrate to this district, that is asking too much...however, I have driven down the [interstate] to deliver this speech and to tell you that it is time for us to be heard. We are losing our country, and we are losing our futures and the futures of our children.

Like Paine, I believe the fight for individual freedom and limited government is not isolated to one district - it is a national movement - now is the time to fight for our freedom and the continuation of the American ideal - I will support anyone that I think is worthy of this cause –


[The Tea Party] is worthy of this cause.

We do not need just another [candidate] who will go to Washington mouthing limited government rhetoric while acting to expand it. We need a new breed of American patriots who will serve the cause of liberty – passionate, articulate, and uncompromising defenders of the American spirit - of Constitutional limits on the powers of government - and of each individuals right to think, produce, and trade free from government coercion.

Joseph Addison’s play Cato: A Tragedy, about the Roman Republican who chose to die rather than live under Caesar’s dictatorship, was very popular in the American colonies and the basis of many famous quotes: Washington once quoted the following in a letter:

Tis not in mortals to command success, but we can do better, we can deserve it.”

[Candidates who support the values of the Tea Party] deserve to win in November. And if you help get them elected around the country, you will deserve success too.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written taking one to the heights of thinking forward and backward, meaning that we cannot move onward in this quest to maintain our freedom, unless we first look back. I am the daughter of a WWII veteran, and I, like so many others am more than passionate about what my father has given, what he has done for this country. I will NOT let it be done in vain. It is now, that I recall the stories he told me of the war, of Omaha Beach, of the Nazis how they THOUGHT they had them at each point, at each turn, even the weather sought to take their lives, but these men would not back down for they fought for our Freedom, our Lives as my father told me so very proudly. Today, I think, this America we are racing toward, is NOT the America he fought for, and he would be so very broken, along with all his brothers, to see what they risk their all for. It was not only this breed of Veterans, my Uncle, in the Vietnam war, that was senseless, and took so much from him and thousands of others, now war upon war continues. Yes, this country is at war, but not just outside our borders, oh no, it is within. We must be wise as Americans, learn from the Past, use what we know, do not act foolishly, rather use the pen, the voice, and be heard, and gather in great numbers. Much is at stake now in our world, much more is stake that is not yet seen, for it does not take the wisest man to see such is coming for us in the night to take more from us, more than we are willing to give, more than money, therefore, if we do not stand while we are now able, if we do not speak now, while we can, there shall then therefore perhaps come that day, that such liberty may be stripped from us, and we shall have only ourselves to blame, for we did nothing to stop it.

Doug Reich said...

Amen to that. Thank you and thanks to your father!

World War II and the American Revolution provide such dramatic examples of what people are willing to do when motivated by MORALITY. The Founding Fathers and the World War II generation were truly fighting for their values and for the American ideals of freedom. Only the power of morality could motivate such courage in the face of such evil.

Today, the enemy is also a despotic ideology but it is not necessarily coming from abroad nor does it wear a uniform. There is a war against human reason waged by modern intellectuals.

In other words, they tell us, we can not know anything for sure, there are no black and whites, there are no absolutes, no firm principles. Anything can be negotiated and compromised.

When a political debate occurs over health care, or whatever, the issue is not "the proper role of the government", or the nature of individual rights, or the freedom of doctors and patients to contract under mutually agreeable terms - the debate centers around the minutia of the bill while the more fundamental premise, that government should control our lives, is conceded by both democrats and republicans.

This is what must change. My excitement over the Tea Party is that it is not just about a particular bill but about the nature of government itself and its relationship to the individual. I was happy to see that the number 1 issue was "protecting the Constitution." While rights are primary, not just the Constitution, at least it shows that the movement is thinking more fundamentally.

The first step is getting people to realize that the battle is really philosophical not just political. We must change the culture and the politicians will follow. I think this is happening.

Amit Ghate said...

Great speech! Any comments on how it was received and if there were any followup questions, interactions, etc?

And are you planning on giving more of these in the months ahead? You certainly have a gift for speech-writing...

Doug Reich said...

Thanks Amit,

The speech was received very well. Some asked for a copy. The campaign asked for a copy so that they might quote from it going forward. If they can get through the primary, I hope to continue to get involved. Thanks again.

Doug