About Those Tea Parties...
I'm not being disparaging. A minimum amount of leadership and coordination can get the Tea Party process organized and on the street. It takes far more leadership and coordination to come up with common goals, common positions, and common approaches to what we the people want to achieve. Maybe that's working itself out in the background as these protests progress. I certainly hope so!
IMHO, the most significant goal any political/social/philosophical organization can work toward is the protection of individual freedom. All of our other freedoms hinge upon that. The more restrictions are placed on the individual, the fewer freedoms that individual has. The Bill of Rights was largely seen by the designers of our Constitution as the enshrinement of individual rights. That includes the right to keep more of the money we work to earn, as well as the rest of the litany of rights our founding fathers enshrined in our Constitution. A well-coordinated campaign against the actions of our government that infringe upon our individual liberties should appeal to all American citizens. And have no misunderstanding - the current government is definitely out to restrict the individual liberties of the majority of the citizens of this nation.
Tea Parties alone won't cause the government to even catch its breath. There has to be more - much more. With each additional goal the leadership of the Tea Party organization states, with each new activity they undertake, the government will work to demonize, demoralize, and disband the movement. Each action the Tea Party organizers approve of must be meticulous with being within the limits of legitimate legal discourse. Even one person working outside the legal limits of individual freedoms can bring an entire organization into disrepute. Tea Party organizers need to ensure that the goals of the organization are clearly stated, unambiguous, and legitimate. They must also be willing to forcibly eject from their organization any member that doesn't accept the restrictions the organization places upon itself, to stay within the bounds of legitimate opposition. Only then can these Tea Parties move on to more ambitious goals.
I'd like to recommend a few goals for the organization. My short list includes:
1) Education on the Constitution. You can't tell what rights you may be losing if you don't know what they are to begin with. You also can't identify behavior that is forbidden by our Constitution, or reserved for other than the Federal Government, if you don't know what our Constitution does and doesn't say. Our "public schools" do a very poor job of teaching both the letter of the Constitution, and "the rest of the story" - the Federalist/Anti-Federalist exchange of letters that helped form both the debate for acceptance, the huge public debates, and the thousands of letters that influenced the actual structure and content of the Constitution. I doubt more than one in ten-thousand US citizens has ever read ANY of the "Federalist Papers", although they're freely available online. They're just some of the historical documents that helped shape our fledgling nation that are stored at Thomas, the Library of Congress access portal.
2) Internal communication. An organization that can bring tens of thousands of signatures to a petition, or write tens of thousands of letters to the White House or Congress, or organize a demonstration of a half-million people can have serious impact on legislation, even in an all-Democratic Party government. That means developing lists of people, their home and email addresses, their telephone numbers, and what THEY WANT out of participating in this movement.
3) A list of well-defined, common objectives. There are a number of things that most Americans can agree on as legitimate objectives of both a political and a social organization such as the Tea Parties. My personal list would include:
- repeal of the 17th Amendment, returning power to the States to appoint Senators, instead of having them bought by the highest bidder.
- Elimination of several different taxes, including the Inheritance (or "death") tax, certain excise taxes, motor vehicle taxes, double-taxation on investment income and savings, etc.
- Elimination of about half the Federal bureaucracy, and the shutting down of "temporary" offices whose usefulness expired decades ago.
- Eliminating the power of unelected bureaucrats to institute new regulations and restrictions.
- The review, repeal, re-write, or re-examination of every single US law that is currently "on the books", and reducing them to the absolute MINIMUM necessary to maintain an equitable society.
- Term limits for members of Congress, the Senate, the Federal judiciary, and other elected or appointed positions.
I'm sure Tea Party members could add significantly to this list.
4) A program to get the attention of our "elected officials", including the President. That includes larger, noisier, and more robust (but orderly) Tea Parties, writing campaigns, public speaking engagements, involvement with local political organizations, and anything else that will eventually force those officials to respond. A sure-fire attention-getter is to hit politicians where it hurts them the most - in their wallet. Imagine the impact upon an elected official if there were a total boycott of one of the recipients of their "earmarks", including a daily picket line protesting the waste. Another excellent tactic is to find a major contributor to a particular candidate that has nationwide locations (Wendy's, JC Penneys, Sears, Allstate Insurance, etc - even Boeing or United Airlines), and organize a boycott of their products. The only three things that must be addressed first is a) whether or not the particular company is truly a prime contributor to the targeted candidate, b) whether the proposed boycott would have any effect (kind of hard to boycott the military, or have any influence when a particular candidate is running unopposed), and c) the legality of such a boycott.
5) Get more involved in the process of choosing candidates - at EVERY level. If enough people are involved, it'll be far more difficult to have a candidate forced upon the electorate that shouldn't be.
I'm looking forward to what the future brings. It promises to be entertaining, if nothing else.