What is the Tea Party Movement?
By: Tom Weaver – November, 2010
What unites this group of Americans? They meet, share ideas and listen without the benefit of elected leaders or organization rules. What is the glue, the spirit and the common beliefs that create the Tea Party Movement? Perhaps those beliefs embraced by the Tea Party Movement are indeed found within the DNA of every American, should they wish to acknowledge it.
HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE: Years ago, families, adventurers, individuals and idealists fled the old world in search for something new. They were searching for religious freedom. They were searching for opportunity that was not taxed by the nobles. They were searching for self fulfillment, versus being told what to do by the ruling class. Indeed, they were searching for freedom. They accepted that it would be hard work. They accepted there were no guarantees. They accepted that there would be no government assistance. They accepted that they would be responsible for their outcome. They accepted that they needed to rely solely upon themselves and their God, their families and their neighbors.
The hardship they endured to reach this land was unknown at the time, and yet they came. The uncertainty of the voyage was huge and yet they longed for freedom – something they had never experienced. And so, they came.
There was no interference from the old world – Europe had enough problems without worrying about the Colonies. So, the colonists set up a simple elected government, they took care of themselves. You met at the Meeting House, later a tavern and later a Town Hall. All government was local. If defense against attack was required, local militias were formed. If the community needed a bridge, they organized and built a bridge. But if a member of the community was having difficult times, the local government did not reach in and assist, the community members did with charity.
Then the Crown, the remote faraway British government, needed money to refill their coffers. They had tried to conquer the world and they were near bankrupt. The land with the most wealth was the land with the most freedom – the Colonies. So they implemented a series of taxes, without proper representation. And that simple one act, the redistribution of wealth from the Colonies to the British Crown in order to bailout bad decisions, corruption and poor policies ignited the Tea Party Movement. The Tea Party Movement of today are proud descendants of that original movement.
As Americans, we have three documents that bring us together, that unite us as a special nationality – documents written with the spirit of the original Tea Party. These documents dictate that we must be responsible for this gift of freedom. Make no mistake, it takes work. And the principles and truths expressed in our founding documents are indeed in the DNA of every American yearning for a better life, striving for freedom and desiring self fulfillment.
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: There are Five Truths in the Declaration. 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, that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed and I paraphrase, that when our government becomes overly intrusive, we have the right to replace them.
Our Founders realized that these truths and rights, these principles of basic human dignity, would require its citizens to remain vigilant and responsible. Our Founders escaped years of British dominance, despotism, monarchies, benevolent dictators, collectivism and tyranny; which is why they believed the power of government must come from the governed and that the governed could change the government if it became totally unacceptable.
Our Founders understood that equality only occurred once, and then it was up to the individual to determine their outcome. Our Founders believed in Pursuit of Happiness, a right bestowed from the Creator. They understood that government could not provide happiness, that each of us needed to pursue our Dreams on our own path and making. They knew that we had to keep the majority of the fruits of our labor to take care of ourselves and our family as we desired, not as the government dictates. They knew that we could fail, but we could recover and start again, without interference from the government. Our Founders believed that the only role the government played in the Pursuit of Happiness was to get out of the way.
THE CONSTITUTION –never before had the roadmap for a country been laid out, discussed, written down for all to see and adopted. The roadmap was based upon the historical lessons learned and mirrored the truths found in the Declaration. The spirit and intent of the Constitution is contained in the Preamble, outlining six distinct purposes for the document.
We the People, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the Common Defense, promote the General Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.
Securing liberty is a function of the Constitution, because the Constitution creates a government of just laws; and liberty without just law is meaningless. Our Framers understood life and equality under the law when it addressed justice and domestic tranquility – that all individuals would live under a guaranteed republican form of government – checks and balances, limited power, separate but equal branches and civic duty. There was no nobility and no class warfare, and the power to govern, came from us – the governed.
Our Framers also understood the expansionist tendencies of government with the phrase “Promote the General Welfare.” This phrase severely limited the power of the federal government because all actions and laws were for the whole of the country – not an individual, a group, Congress or a special interest. Our Framers knew that without limiting the power and reach of the established government, there would be no pursuit of happiness, because the government, not the governed, would reign supreme.
GETTYSBURG ADDRESS: During the midst of a great Civil War, a war which washed the sins of slavery from our shores with the blood shed on both sides, a great leader challenged those around him and future generations with words contained in his Address at a makeshift cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
That from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – that cause, for which they and others gave their last full measure of devotion — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And our new birth of freedom comes from realizing that we too are responsible for securing those rights, and in that belief, we know that heroes and honored dead have not died in vain.
And that government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth. It is indeed a government of “We the People.”
SO WHAT IS THE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT? It is renewal. It is a renewal discovering the greatness of the United States of America, which differentiates this country from others. It is recognizing American exceptionalism, without embarrassment or apology. It is realizing that the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are worth securing once again. It is awakening to the fact that our God given rights have been slowly eroding, through Republican and Democrat administrations, through Republican and Democrat controlled Congresses – and as they erode our nation looks more and more like other nations. It is realizing, once again, that we give the power to govern to the government. And, it is a recalibration of what really matters, to us and our posterity. What really matters is freedom; it is individual responsible freedom that matters most, not government assistance.
The Tea Party Movement represents what is great about this country; that individuals, expressing ideas and differences can make an impact. The truths and ideals expressed within our founding principles and found within our national DNA, are taking hold once again. We know the strength of principles such as Liberty, In God We Trust, and E Pluribus Unum.
THE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT HAS RECOGNIZED A SIMPLE FACT. That Americans, like you and I, must become involved, that we must take it to the next level because we are responsible for the future of this country. It is not up to the politicians or Washington, for we give the consent to govern to the government. The Tea Party Movement, as with the original Tea Party, knows that securing our rights of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness — is up to us, it is up to We the People.
May God bless America.
Thomas Weaver, Westford-Speech delivered to the Waltham Tea Party