Matters of Religion Should Never be Matters of Controversy for Tea Party Protesters

Matters of Religion Should Never be Matters of Controversy for Tea Party Protesters    

Today I’ve been mostly reflecting on recklessness that we’ve been witnessing in Washington D.C. and what some are calling the one year anniversary of the Tea Party Movement.  I want to say is that I am truly thankful that millions of ordinary Americans have been so moved by what they’ve seen in American politics that they made time to care for the country that has been so important in their lives.  Thank you, thank you, and thank you!  I can only imagine how little hope there would be today had you not stood up and shouted ENOUGH loud enough for the politicians to hear. Oh, and thanks CNBC Correspondent Rick Santelli for getting it all started.  

At first the Tea Parties were ignored and when they kept growing, the vilification process began in earnest in the Halls of Congress & in the mainstream media.  The disparagement began as commentators’ smirks, belittlement and mischaracterizations as to who was involved and what the they were about.  As the protests grew and politicians began being forced to address hard questions in town hall meetings, the discomfort level of the media and politicians increased exponentially.  So did the insults.  

Finally, one term of disparagement/diminution stuck. A few pompous media personalities set out to attach these mostly novice protesters to the derogatory terms Tea-Bagger and Tea-Bagging (some sort of sex act thing). It became a juvenile favorite among Democrat politicians such as Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Schumer.  Why? I have no idea.  If you see images of the hundreds of thousands (millions) of these Americans engaged in peaceful protests, ‘tea-bagger’ is the last thing that would come to mind.  Most of the protesters shrug it off realizing that actually saying the term reflects most badly on those using it.  However, each has their own way of dealing with double standards and ridicule.  

I’ve never been able to understand why a Republican contributor is a ‘fat cat’ and a Democratic contributor of the same amount of money is a ‘public-spirited philanthropist’.
Ronald Reagan  

If an analogy must be made to a Tea Bag, then let’s do with a bit more accuracy to reflect the broad range of ordinary Americans picking up protest signs for the first time.  From what I can tell, Tea Party folks more often than not come with lots of experience because most have a few years under their belts.   

Let’s say we imagine the piece of paper attached to the tea bag string as the label tea party members might use to identify themselves to everyone else – Conservative, Moderate, Independent, Republican, Democrat, Liberal, Native American, African-American, White, Asian, Catholic, Baptist, Jew, Christian, Agnostic, Professor, Professional, Tradesman, etc., etc., etc. (I wanted to include Muslim but I haven’t actually seen anyone self identify.) It’s a big tent based on principle.  

The string is the part that connects everyone together, the collective consciousness of experience that reminds each of us that some things are time tested, work well and might just pull America out of the hot water before it’s too late.  

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.   

George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905  

As far as I can tell, this is the essence of the movement.  It reflects common sense understandings of economics and how to get our economy moving.  Experience shows that private sector does much better than a federal bureaucracy when it comes to jump starting the economy and making the system sustainable because the private sector is concerned facts and success – not their own political ideologies, beauty contests and careers. (Congress tinkering with ‘risk’ in the mortgage market caused the current economic crisis – everyone must own a home even if they can’t afford it. Right now, uncertainty regarding the possibility of tax hikes coming from Obama are what’s shackling the economy.)  

Tea party people know the U.S. government’s massive debt is not sustainable.  They want politicians to stop raising taxes (actually most want to cut taxes) and to cut spending. They want America to live within its means and not pass unbearable debt to their children.  

They want politicians to face the truth of our economy!  Yes, there will be pain but most Americans surely recognize we can get through it together.  However, if government does not face the truth about our economy soon, the pain will be catastrophic and our liberties could be put at risk because of civil unrest.  

The truth is cruel, but it can be loved, and it makes free those who have loved it.  

George Santayana, Little Essays (1920) “Ideal Immortality”  

The tea party movement is not anti-government.  They want the federal government to do the things they are authorized to do under the Constitution with as small a ‘footprint’ as possible (including reasonable regulation of business).  I believe a majority wants their own states to do the heavy lifting on tax utilization and governing.  However, they want politicians to not be in bed with union leaders (special interests) because experience shows that union leaders’ greed is a big factor in the fiscal calamities facing many states today. (A 49-year-old NJ public employee (union member) who pays in a $124,000 and receives 3.3 million in benefits from state coffers.)  

I suspect a vast majority of the ordinary Americans who make up the tea party movement do not want the government to take over the healthcare system. And yes, they do want reform.  They want incremental steps to be taken to reform healthcare.  They do not want a massive bill when politicians’ motives are suspect and the consequences cannot possibly be fully understood. Start over with everyone at the table.  

No one tests the depth of a river with both feet.  

African Proverb   

Most in the movement want politicians to respect the Constitutional limitations placed on government, respect state rights, and the rights of the individual.  

People know instinctually and by experience that child rearing with too much parental control will either be met with some type of resistance (outright rebellion, passive aggression behavior) or cowering (timid, afraid, distrust).  Neither is what America needs of her citizenry.  

It is the individual’s task to differentiate himself from all the others and stand on his own feet. All collective identities… interfere with the fulfillment of this task. Such collective identities are crutches for the lame, shields for the timid, beds for the lazy, nurseries for the irresponsible….  

C. G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections  

People realize that the Constitution is the first line of defense protecting their freedoms and limiting a federal government that appears ready to dictate without the consent of the people.  Most understand that the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution established the requirement that the power of the federal government comes from the people and states – not the other way around.  I think most tea party protesters want the federal government to back off and lift the boot off their necks.   

In fact, several states have recognized the danger this Administration poses to our 2nd and 10th Amendment rights and are beginning to take action.  Three states have passed the Firearms Freedom Act and 22 others have introduced it for consideration. The FFA basically says that firearms manufactured and sold within a state’s borders are out of reach of the federal government’s interstate commerce powers. Numerous states have introduced legislation asserting their Tenth Amendment rights under the Constitution.  Several others are introducing legislation that will require candidates to submit proof that they are in fact eligible for the office they are seeking (i.e. being a ‘natural born citizen’). We will see soon if our Federal Courts have become so corrupted and/or influenced by the ’progressives’ ideology that they will not exercise their duties and act as a check to the powers of the Congress and the President.  

Tea Party protesters do not want to be treated like sheep by their government and elected representatives.  This is partly why it is important that the ‘tea party’ not be taken over by any major Party.  The tea party idea is about holding all politicians accountable, not just the ones in a particular party.   

People choose politicians who should understand local values and concerns to represent their interests in Washington regardless of which Party they belong.  

I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.  

Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948)  

The people of California are not the same as the people from Georgia and both should have their interests represented in strong state governments and by elected Congressional Representatives – and neither should be blown off their feet.  

I’ve been using a few quotes from the philosopher George Santayana to illustrate the need to keep our state governments strong, retaining their rights and responsibilities under the Constitution. Mr. Santayana ”…was committed to a naturalist metaphysics, in which human cognition, cultural practices, and social institutions have evolved so as to harmonize with the conditions present in their environment. Their value may then be adjudged by the extent to which they facilitate human happiness.“  

To me, understanding local environmental and ethnic influences reveals the richness of America’s cultural diversity. It’s why we want our representatives to be local becuase they are (should be) more aware of who ‘they’ are and what conditions have shaped the ‘we’ of the locality.  This way change & governance evolve locally in response to the ‘happiness’ or unhappiness of its residents. It also validates the wisdom of our Founders who created a Constitution meant to insure equality of opportunity (not results) and equal protection for every person in every state.  The Constitution is a safety net preventing tyranny or abuse at the muncipal or state level while containing safeguards that protect the individual character of states and their people ( First, Second, Ninth, Tenth, Fourteenth Amendments).  

If states like California and New York raise taxes too much or restricts rights and liberties too much, people and business remain free to vote with their feet.  That’s a good thing because it applies market forces to states that might encourage their politicians to act responsibility. States and regions have different flavors that appeal to varied tastes and that’s wonderful.  Just like most people do not want the flavor of another forcibly imposed upon their lives – neither do states.  

Even though it’s understandable that some residents of states currently crumbling under the weight of unfair public employee labor and pension contracts and out of control politicians may be susceptible to Obama’s proclivity for a socialist system that might subsidize their state’s excesses with taxes from the innocent states, it must be resisted and responsibility demanded of their own politicians.  The good people of Texas should not be forced to bail out irresponsible politicians in California or any other state.  Today responsible people can always move and let California collapse under the weight of its own gluttony. However, if we allow the federal government to continue grow in power and influence that may not always be the case. Many times taking what appears to be the easiest path is the one that leads to the greatest loss.  

The same arguments can be made in support of America’s sovereignty. Most Americans do not want to give up that which has been paid for with the blood and treasure of the millions who came before to France, Germany, Spain, any other country or the UN.  Our freedoms and Constitutional protections are not barter items.  We can fulfill our global responsibilities as good neighbors without sacrificing our sovereignty.  

A man’s feet should be planted in his country, but his eyes should survey the world.  

George Santayana (1863 – 1952)  

The tea bag string is the determined call for fiscal responsibility, accountability, equality of opportunity, and limited representative government.  

The tea bag is our United States Constitution that has guided this nation for centuries.  It’s the fabric that holds us together and protects our liberties. Without which, we would blow away like dry leaves of tea facing the winds of tyranny.  

One man with a gun can control 100 without one.
Vladimir Lenin  

One person cannot stand against tyranny alone. It will take many armed with all of the rights and liberties that they can preserve (including the right to bear arms).  

America is the greatest of opportunities and the worst of influences.  

George Santayana (1863 – 1952)  

It’s these influences that are putting our liberties at risk today.   

An educational system that does not adequately teach the Constitution, our founding, or America’s goodness is making it likely our children will not recognize threats to their freedom and liberty.   

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.
Ronald Reagan  

 Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.
Vladimir Lenin 

It’s the patience of ‘progressivism’ that has been working insidiously for decades to undermine our system of governance. It’s politicians who work diligently to create voter dependency through the sense of ‘entitlement’.  It’s politicians who will not face the truth of our economy and who print trillions of dollars to ensure their positions.  

The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency.
Vladimir Lenin   

It’s the influence of special interests that corrupt and seduce politicians to do their bidding instead watching out for the interests of the people.  It’s politicians who lack conviction to principles.  

 To rely upon conviction, devotion, and other excellent spiritual qualities; that is not to be taken seriously in politics.
Vladimir Lenin 

It’s the influence of those in the inner circle of the Administration.

There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.
Vladimir Lenin 

Is Lenin talking about Rahm Emanuel? 

 The tea is who we are.  It’s the experiences of each individual that has shaped his or her life and views.  It’s the diversity of the tea party movement.  In the tea party movement all ethic groups are represented, many are Veterans, many have family members in the military, and there are Christians, Jews, agnostics, and probably atheists.  There are those who represent rural and urban ways of life. There are pro-life, pro-choice, gay, straight, environmentalists, pro-gun, pro-10th Amendment, and those calling for the ‘natural born citizen’ provision of the Constitution to be honored.  There are Conservatives, Liberals, and Moderates. There are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and Independents.  

From what I can see, people in the tea party movement are striving to be tolerant of the views of others as long as they don’t jeopardize the nation’s future.

 Intolerance itself is a form of egoism, and to condemn egoism intolerantly is to share it. 

George Santayana, Winds of Doctrine (1913) ch. 4   

If the movement is to survive and flourish, egotism and intolerance must be kept in check.  If it’s not, we become them.  At the next local event, maybe I will tie the string from a tea bag around my finger to help me remember to keep my own intolerance in check and to focus on the issues the Tea Party movement has grown around. 

 It’s my strong opinion that the tea party movement must not be folded into any major party and that it not form its own official party. If it forms its own party, it may then feel compelled to have a platform that addresses the social issues and that could alienate many.  This is such a special movement and it would be sad to see it diminish. This year it is critical to vote for those who have the best chance of removing absolute control from Obama, Pelosi and Reid’s Democratic Party.  The vote must not be split in 2010.  However, every Republican or Independent candidate who wins needs to be made aware that they will be held accountable for their lack of transparency, lack of fiscal discipline, and lack of adherence to the Constitution. 

  We will surely disagree in the future about the social issues and that will be okay.  However, today millions are united around a core set of issues that are crucial for the survival of the nation. We must not blow it. Fiscal responsibility, accountability, transparency, and limited government are the issues of the coming election. 

 I think I will close with one last quote of George Santayana (who was an agnostic) that seems applicable to the idea of focusing on the big picture this year. 

 Matters of religion should never be matters of controversy. We neither argue with a lover about his taste, not condemn him, if we are just, for knowing so human a passion. 

George Santayana (1863 – 1952) 

 Well – unless they want to kill you if they can’t convert you. In such case, I offer this quote:  

It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees. 

Emiliano Zapata (1877 – 1919)   

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