We Drive on, Changed, but not Deterred

Seven years ago this month, the Tea Party Movement made history.  We became the most successful grassroots political movement in modern history.  Sparked by a rant, inspired by the Constitution, fueled by our frustration with an out of control government, and determined to act, we came together on April 15, 2009, and we are still making history!  I recently looked back at the text of the speech that I gave on that day.  Much of what I said remains true today.

“Perhaps we should have stood up many years ago, before our government became so bloated, corrupt, arrogant and greedy, but it is not too late to slay the monster that we’ve fed for too many years.
Think about what our country’s founders did. They fought the most powerful nation on Earth and defeated them. Today, we commit ourselves to defeating the monster in Washington.”

Our commitment has not diminished.  It has morphed from anger and confusion into action.  Millions of Americans who were completely disengaged from the political process have volunteered to help candidates, canvassed for petition signatures or even run for office.  Before April 15, 2009, many of us had never met an elected official beyond our local town board.  Now, we know a broad spectrum of politicians and potential candidates.  We have been educated in the Constitution.  We know the issues. We’ve learned a lot of history.  We’ve been inspired by resurrecting the words of Adams, Jefferson, and Madison, and words from people many of us didn’t know before; Bastiat, Hayek, and Rand. We created networks of patriots.  We have become the citizens we always should have been.

We gathered over 2,000 people in Lincoln Square, sent hundreds of people to rally in Washington, D.C., and made thousands of phone calls.  We’ve had wins and we’ve had losses.  The Worcester Tea Party has been mentioned in books about the Tea Party Movement and in Time Magazine.  We were even featured in a BBC America comedy reality show.

So, after 7 years, where are we?  It seems like we’ve made little progress, but the mobilization of millions of Americans is progress.  We are fighting a Leviathan, the likes of which has never existed in the history of civilization.  Despite the enormity of our task, we drive on, changed, but not deterred.   A quote that describes our motivation is one that has become one of my favorites, and one that we’ve heard many times over the past seven years.  Ironically, it comes from one of the Republican Party’s most notorious Progressives, Theodore Roosevelt.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Citizenship in a Republic, April 23, 1910 Teddy Roosevelt 

Some of us may have had our faces marred by sweat and dust (thankfully no blood, yet), but we strive on, knowing that the cause of liberty is a just cause.  Though it remains out of reach today, we stay in the arena because our success would be a “triumph of high achievement”.

Happy Anniversary to the Tea Party Movement!  Congratulations for surviving the brickbats from the left and the establishment!  Kudos for standing up to the IRS!  High fives for defending our Constitution!

It’s hard to say for certain how far we’ve advanced, but we can be certain that our republic would be in much more dire condition if we had not jumped into the arena.  In closing, I’d like to remind you of our mission and thank you for being part of this grand task.

The Worcester Tea Party was formed in response to the never ended intrusion of government into the personal lives of all individuals. Our membership includes people from all walks of life. Our members are united by their support for:

  • The return to our founding principles of individual responsibility and limited government.
  • Sound fiscal policy from Washington, Beacon Hill, and City Hall.
  • The reduction of the tax and regulatory burden heaped on businesses, communities and families here in the Commonwealth and across the country.
  • Transparency as the means to hold our leadership accountable for their complete disregard for American principles.

The Worcester Tea Party seeks to accomplish these objectives through recruiting, educating, organizing, and mobilizing the citizens of greater Worcester County.

In Liberty,
Ken Mandile
Senior Fellow
Worcester Tea Party

What Is the Worcester Tea Party ??

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The Worcester Tea Party is a response to the abuses of our government by a corrupted political class. In ways both large and small our government has not been used to serve the vast majority of the people of our nation. The vast wealth of our nation has been squandered with little lasting good to show for it. A few connected individuals have profited while most of us struggled to keep up. In too many cases the rich and powerful have evaded justice while injustice has been inflicted on the poor and powerless. Our reputation in the world has been pockmarked by their feckless policies. Our friends no longer feel they can trust us. Our enemies see us as a joke.

The Worcester Tea Party is our commitment to a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Self-selected special interests have thwarted the will of the American people and brought our nation to the brink of bankruptcy and decay. It is this corrupted political class that has failed. They have failed our founding ideals. They have failed all of us. We believe that all of our problems can be solved, and will be solved by the American people.

The Worcester Tea Party is a free education organization Political correctness is a tool used by the corrupted political class to control and silence their opponents. We are committed to having the freest and most open conversations about the challenges facing our nation. We believe that the future of our nation depends on us forging solutions out of ideas. We do not hold some secret solutions, but a proven method by which we can determine solutions. We believe in the right of people to think for themselves and make the choices they think are best.

The Worcester Tea Party is an opportunity for all those that wish to take it. All are welcome to attend, listen, present and debate. Because we believe it free exchange of ideas we believe there is nothing that cannot be tested. Controversial opinions will be voiced and debated and when appropriate rejected. There can be no barriers allowed to block our pursuit of the truth.

The Worcester Tea Party is our duty to our children and our parents. As Americans we stand on the shoulders of giants. Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, all have contributed to elevating us by helping forge ideas into institutions. Today we are the inheritors of their labor and inspiration. We do not shirk from our role in making our politics and our government work. Quite the contrary we jealously guard our duty to this great experiment. Our actions are informed by the knowledge that “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” We received these gifts from our parents, we will make our contributions, and as mortal beings we will pass these great gifts on to the next generation of Americans.

 

Principles

Principles

“Independence is my happiness,
and I view things as they are,
without regard to place or person;
my country is the world,
and my religion is to do good.”

Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

 

When Thomas Paine wrote these words in 1791, he was writing in opposition to Edmund Burke’s defense of the aristocracy and the corrupt system that they had built for their own benefit.  In a previous 100 years, the taxes imposed by the English government had increased almost tenfold (from 1.8 million pounds to 17 million pounds). By comparison, the budget of the U.S. government has increased to 14 times the U.S. budget of 100 years ago (after adjusting for inflation).  Much like U.S. citizens of the 21st century, English citizens were oppressed by a government gone wild.  The aristocrats were shielded from the taxes and regulations that were causing much grief among the lower classes.

Paine pointed out how useless the aristocrats were:

“The aristocracy are not the farmers who work the land, and raise the produce, but are the mere consumers of the rent; and when compared with the active world are the drones, a seraglio of males, who neither collect the honey nor form the hive, but exist only for lazy enjoyment.”

 Paine believed that the national character of the English had changed over the previous century and that this was why they put up with the abuse:

“It would have been impossible to have dragooned the former English, into the excess of taxation that now exists; and when it is considered that the pay of the army, the navy, and of all the revenue officers, is the same now as it was about a hundred years ago, when the taxes were not above a tenth part of what they are at present, it appears impossible to account for the enormous increase and expenditure on any other ground, than extravagance, corruption, and intrigue.”
Like the English of the 18th century, has the national character of Americans changed such that we continue to believe the lies put forward by Progressives for the past 100 years? Dismally, it almost looks so.
Many freedom loving Americans are confounded by the 2016 Presidential campaign.  If the polls are to be believed, we are headed for one of most bizarre choices in the history of Presidential politics.  How did we get here?  It seems like far too many Americans have lost sight of some of the most fundamental aspects of liberty.  We are being driven by personalities and policies, but lack the rudder of principle.
Thomas Paine was a man of principle, who had suffered much by the end of his life because he refused to compromise those principles.
“To me, who have not only refused offers, because I thought them improper, but have declined rewards I might with reputation have accepted, it is no wonder that meanness and imposition appear disgustful.”   
Some of the choices offered to us for President this year seem to be lacking principle altogether.  Can we survive?  Yes!  What is important is that the citizenry adhere to principles based on limited government, a free market, and individual rights.  These are the principles that the Tea Party movement sprouted from.
Do not worship those who fail to acknowledge the most basic principles of liberty, of the free market, and of our natural rights.  What is the most important characteristic that you are looking for in our next President?  Is it only that they beat the other team?  Is it that they are the least offensive?  Or, is it that your choice has the resolve to defend liberty?
As an organization, the Worcester Tea Party does not endorse candidates, but we do ask that you consider their belief in our principles.  Are they for limited government, Constitutional rights, and a free market?  It’s a tall order, but you should not settle for less.

Impact Things Sufficiently to Change Things

“Maybe it’s an issue of being unable or unwilling to realize that we can actually impact things sufficiently to change things, rather than seeing ourselves as being exiled to some distant side line of life where we can do nothing more than sheepishly root for a life that’s far too far away to touch.”

– Craig D Lounsbrough

Being an advocate for liberty requires a healthy dose of optimism, a belief that freedom is a fundamental desire of all people, and a thick skin. We often seem to be outnumbered. Those who argue for bigger government always seem to be able to win the public’s support. Even those who talk as if they are allies turn out to be statists, hungry for power. It’s so easy to become discouraged by the inanity around us, but the Tea Party movement was sparked by a belief that it was possible to seize freedom from the tyranny of an over-sized and oppressive government. There is no reason to doubt that possibility.

Advocates of Tea Party principles should not be discouraged. Change comes slowly and often imperceptibly. We won’t know when we’ve turned the tide. A good analogy is the technology that is such a significant part of our lives. Each day it changes. Each day there are new innovations. Each day we continue to live our lives without perceiving that changes are taking place. Looking back at the past decade, it seems hard to believe that we ever lived in an age without iPhones, the internet, streaming movie services, and thousands of other modern advances.

The battle for liberty is mostly fought in imperceptible small steps. Yes, there are major losses (and major wins!), but the critical battles are the thousands that take place over time. These wins and losses take place across our nation, in town meetings, city council meetings, courtrooms, and many other public venues. We cannot win if we see “ourselves as being exiled to some distant side line of life where we can do nothing more than sheepishly root for a life that’s far too far away to touch”.

It is lazy Patriots that see themselves as “being unable or unwilling to realize that we can actually impact things sufficiently to change things”. In reality, it is only the individual that can have that impact. Each person must fight for liberty every day. The Tea Party movement is nothing but thousands of individuals, each fighting for the same principles in his or her own way. We’re not a unified, centrally controlled mass. We are a network of individuals spread across America. Each piece of the network has a role to play. The importance of each member of that network cannot be minimized. Each person can and does “impact things sufficiently to change things”.

Theodore Parker said that “the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice.” We can take confidence and renew our resolve by knowing that the arc of the moral universe also bends toward liberty. People all over the world envy the freedom that we have, no matter how damaged it is. In this New Year, start with a renewed sense of optimism that liberty will triumph.

In liberty,
Ken Mandile
Senior Fellow
Worcester Tea Party

Banish the Darkness

Banish the Darkness

December is a month where much of humanity defies the frigid darkness by celebrating what may be our most joyous holiday.  Christians and non-Christians alike have taken to the spirit of Christmas to celebrate in their own ways.  Words of peace and joy and good cheer are shared with all.  This year though, we enter the season with a darkness spreading like the Shadow of Mordor across the free world.
Years of a foreign policy based on hubris and naive talk of containment have put the civilized world at risk in ways not seen since the Cold War.  This combination of neglect and malfeasance have given the enemies of modernity and freedom the time, money, and brazen confidence to wreak death and fear across the globe.  The world has realized that the once steady leadership of the United States is in shambles and they doubt our will and ability to confront evil.  This holiday season, instead of wishes of Peace on Earth, the talk is of war.

A greater danger comes not from the terrible but unlikely act of a terrorist, but from more certain threat of a government which would respond to every crisis by eroding our freedoms.  Those who are familiar with Robert Higgs’ book, Crisis and Leviathan, know that governments use fear and war to implement new laws and restrictions.

Often, the proposals are sold as only temporary, as the French are doing now with their three month state of emergency.  Personal computers in France are now subject to administrative searches without a warrant.  The internet is being censored.  Other searches are now done at the whim of the police.  If history is our guide, many of these policies will continue when the emergency ends.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Either we believe these words or we do not.  If we meekly retreat and hide, then these are not real principles, but just pretty words to be discarded out of convenience.  It would give the terrorists a veto on our rights.  Fear should never be a justification for the abandonment of our rights.

In times like this, we need our reason, and our principles, and our faith.  We need to prudently respond to security threats.  As we respond, we need to be cautious about overreacting and calls to hand over our rights in the name of security.  We must destroy evil with resolve, and we must also defend our liberty with that same resolve.

In this season nearly one third of the population of the Earth will celebrate the Light of a Savior.  In this season the Jewish faith celebrates the light of the Maccabees’ oil.  Many other faiths choose this time to celebrate the promise that the sun would bring warmth and light.  We must not let the shadow of terror eclipse this season of light and joy, and we should pray that our country finds the courage to allow our light to banish that darkness.

Leave the Organization of Hatreds to the Professionals

A recent Robert Higgs essay in the Independent Institute blog referred to a Henry Brooks Adams quote denigrating the nature of politics.  “Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.”  How much more cynical could one be? It is intriguing though.  And, it may very well be true!

Politics is about destroying your opponent.  If you can’t destroy the opposition, then you are to weaken it as much as possible.  Compromise is unacceptable.  It’s a violation of one’s principles.  Compromise often leads to the fall of politicians who stray from the party creed.

In his essay, Higgs contrasts political transactions with economic transactions.  In economics, you rarely succeed by destroying your opponent.  That’s not the purpose of voluntary exchange.  In fact, commerce requires that both parties feel like they’ve won.  If one party is unhappy, then the exchange has failed.  Many social interactions mirror economics.  Other than games, sports, and war, politics may be the only human activity where destroying your opponent is necessary.

Robert Higgs wrote:

“Parties recruit followers by exploiting hatreds. Bureaucracies bulk up their power and budgets by artfully weaving hatreds into their mission statements and day-to-day procedures. Regulators take advantage of artificially heightened hatreds. Group identity is emphasized at every turn, and such tribal distinctions are tailor-made for the maintenance and increase of hatred among individual persons who might otherwise disregard the kinds of groupings that the politicians and their supporters emphasize ceaselessly.”

Perhaps this negativity is why so many people don’t like politics.  They don’t want to discuss it.  They don’t want it on their Facebook news feed.  They just don’t want to think about it.  It’s important work though, and good people need to stay in the game to steer us to a better course.

There is a way to be involved in politics while avoiding the organized hatred.  Promote positive ideas.  Promote a philosophy of liberty.  Believe in the inherent goodness of people.  Acknowledge the inherent value of your allies and of your opponents, but don’t compromise in the battle of ideas.

Since the very start of the Tea Party movement, I’ve felt that we were in a war of ideas, not personalities or politicians.  We have a positive message, one that believes in people, not political parties, government programs or organized hatred.  Unless we can win the minds of the American people, we cannot succeed.  We cannot win with cynicism and hatred.  As we enter this very important season of Presidential politics, promote your candidate by articulating the good ideas and the good character that he or she has.  Leave the organizing of the hatred to the professionals.

In Liberty,
Ken Mandile
SeniorFellow
Worcester Tea Party

 

Choosing Words

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

George Orwell

In  “Politics and the English Language”, George Orwell said  “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. ”   In corrupting the use of words, our competitors are able to disrupt the common sense of the citizenry.   “Social justice” is one good example of such corruption.  You’d have to be very cold hearted to oppose something called social justice, so what’s wrong with social justice?  Well, to begin with, and end with, it has nothing to do with justice.  By throwing together two good words and using them in a way that deceives the listener, the anti-liberty crowd has been able to fool the uninformed.

 

One of the main purposes of the Tea Party Movement is to convey the message of liberty.  To do so, we need to be careful about the words we choose, but more importantly, we need to point out the misuse of words by those who look to steal our freedom.   “Liberal” and “conservative” are two perfectly good words that have been corrupted.  Tea Partiers make the error of using the word “liberal” as an insult, when it should be compliment.  We have ceded this word to those who blasphemy it’s real meaning.

 

The left has a habit of changing the language when it stops working for them.  “Global Warming” seemed scary enough, until it didn’t work for them anymore.  They were forced to switch to the less scary phrase “Climate Change.”

 

Remember how a few decades ago, poverty was such a big concern?  We don’t hear so much about poverty anymore because the worldwide poverty rate has unexpectedly plummeted.  The lowest 10th percentile income earner in the U.S. enjoys an economic lifestyle that is better that almost every other country on earth.  What are the progressives to do if poverty is plummeting?  Let’s change the word.  Now poverty becomes “income inequality.”  All inequality is bad, isn’t it?  So income inequality must also be bad.  If income equality is bad, then one could make the case that income redistribution is good.  We lose just by accepting the phrase “income inequality.”

 

At this month’s Worcester Tea Party meeting, we heard two speakers on Agenda 21.  The very next day, I saw the agenda for next week’s meeting of my town’s Board of Selectmen.  I saw the phrases “International Property Maintenance Code”, “Master Plan Implementation”, and “Revised Water Conservation Language”.  Immediately, bells went off in my head.  I knew that they were using corrupted words that sounded perfectly well-meaning so that they could be used to advance an ideology that disputes private property rights.

 

The words of liberty, as articulated by our classical liberal founders, ring true in the ears of almost every American.  It is only those who seek to deceive by twisting good words into bad that we need to fear. They are charlatans who will lead people down a disastrous path.

 

Be careful in the words that you  choose.  Be honest.  Don’t deceive in the way our competitors do.  When you are speaking the truth about the value of liberty, you do not have to grovel in the gutter of euphemistic deception.

 

In liberty,
Ken Mandile
Matt O’Brien