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There are many powerful forces trying to splinter and divide the tea-party movement.

My goal is to unify it.

But I adamantly disagree with those who say they share my goal but want to reach it by defining the tea party as a movement about a limited number of economic issues.

In fact, that’s a sure way to blow it up.

Every worthy and righteous movement in the history of America was about much more than materialism. And, ultimately, if you are concerned about economics alone, you are a materialist.

The founders of this great country are the inspiration for the modern tea-party movement. They were not materialists. Their concerns went far beyond economics. They had a dream about something that had never before existed in the history of the world – a nation governed by the rule of law and the will of the people, a vision of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” a concept “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

If the tea-party movement wants to reach its potential, it needs to forgo the temptation to “narrow” its focus to a set of mere issues and “expand” its vision to one in line with the Declaration of Independence.

You want a big tent? Expand the vision. You want a small tent? Narrow your focus to economic and materialistic issues that are here today and gone tomorrow.

The economy ebbs and flows. It works in cycles. But liberty, the founders recognized, is always under attack.

Open your eyes. What we’re facing in America is not just an attack on prosperity. It’s an attack on freedom – across the board. It’s an attack on “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It’s an attack on the notion that we are all created equal by God. It’s an attack on the very notion that we are accountable to God and made in His own image.

I’m sure there are atheists and even some pure materialists in the tea-party movement – just as there were fighting side by side with the founders. Those people will still rally around you – especially if you’re winning. But you need people who aspire to higher principles than lower taxes. Americans would never have broken from the crown of England if material concerns were what the struggle was all about. In fact, the founders pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor in the War of Independence. The tea-party movement needs people willing to go that far again – and people just don’t do that unless the vision is compelling enough.

Understand I am not suggesting more issues be added to the so-called Contract From America or any other working tea-party documents. What I am suggesting is fewer.

The terms of the debate are all confused.

One faction of the tea-party movement, dominated by old Republican politicians who have made the same mistakes before, suggests limiting the tea-party agenda to a small collection of grievances dominated by economic concerns.

I take a backseat to no one in my concern for the future of this country’s free-enterprise system. But, the fact of the matter is, without a heart, without a soul, without a morality, without an accountability to God, this country has no future – economically or otherwise.

That’s what we all need to understand.

They’ll tell you “social issues” are not on the table for the tea-party movement.

But what are “social issues”? “Social issues” are “people issues.” All issues are social issues. Taxes are social issues. Jobs are social issues. Medical care is a social issue. Everything that affects people is a social issue.

Maybe what they really mean is they don’t want to deal with “moral issues”? Yet, I would submit to you, that all issues are “moral issues.” Taxes are moral issues. Jobs are moral issues. Medical care is a moral issue. Everything that requires people to make moral judgments is a moral issue.

Maybe what they really mean is they don’t want to deal with abortion and homosexuality. That’s probably it.

So don’t deal with them.

I happen to think they are very serious and important issues. But I’m not asking the tea-party movement to become the National Right to Life organization. Nor am I asking it to become the Family Research Council.

Nobody’s asking the tea-party movement to add to the list of grievances. We’re asking you to broaden your vision to one of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” – one big enough for all Americans of goodwill to rally around.

What better example to preserve our freedom for generations to come than the brilliant founders who gave us freedom in generations past.

Live like them!

Read the Declaration of Independence.

It’s still a beautiful vision for Americans today.

In fact, given our predicament, we are in greater need of independence, self-government, sovereignty, the rule of law and the will of the people than we were 234 years ago.

The only thing that will constrain this beautiful, spontaneous, grass-roots tea-party movement from achieving its goals is a vision too small and unworthy of the challenges we face.

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