I get embarrassed when I hear “conservative” leaders suggest the tea-party movement needs their guidance and experience.
What the tea party needs is a clean break with the old paradigm of “conservatism” and a fresh new forward-looking agenda to take America back – something the “conservatives” have been unable or unwilling to do since the movement has been almost exclusively focused on influencing the Republican Party.
In less than two years, the tea-party movement has made more progress in getting our nation back on track than the timid “conservative” movement, with its big tent philosophy, has since 1989.
Spontaneously and practically overnight, the tea-party movement arose in reaction to the government’s sudden and dramatic lurch toward the left in 2009. It is dominated by grass-roots activists with a strong commitment to God, country, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. And that’s how it should remain.
My advice to the tea-party movement, which I offer in detail in my new book, “The Tea Party Manifesto,” is to avoid the temptation of creating a laundry list of issues upon which it stands. No list like that could ever address the fundamental problems facing America. Instead, I suggest, stand firmly with the over-arching vision of the Founding Fathers as delineated in the Declaration and the preamble to the Constitution.
As a reminder, here’s the mission statement of America found 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, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
And here’s the oft-forgotten preamble to the Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
It’s very simple: The U.S. was founded to provide, for the first time in human history, a refuge for people who believed in the rule of law and the will of the people, in self-government, in constitutionally limited government, in removing the shackles from the people by placing them on government.
Without doubt, we owe a debt of gratitude to the modern American conservative movement for keeping this vision alive. But it has truly lost its way. Lately, entertainers have kept it alive, while politicians used it to empower themselves.
But the geniuses who gave us this vision, inspired by the Bible and the experience of triumph and tragedy in 5,000 years of human history, are gone – gone, but not forgotten.
This is the deep well of ideas and experience from which the tea-party movement should draw its inspiration and guidance – not today’s failed conservative movement.
If the tea-party movement follows the prescriptions of the founders, who gave us the greatest freedom movement in the history of the world, it will have longevity and effectiveness.
If it gets caught up in debates over this issue or that issue, it will be no more effective than the modern conservative movement that is so divided and seemingly impotent in the face of the greatest moral and political crisis this nation has yet faced.