There seems to be a fair amount of confusion over what the tea-party movement is all about.

I can tell you it is not about materialism. It is not simply about economics. And it is a mistake to assume it can be explained by polls on the most important “issues” from menus devised by tea-party leaders.

A better way to appreciate the depth of concerns of tea partiers and their understanding of all the issues impacting Americans today is to check out the new picture book, “Don’t Tread on Us,” which includes hundreds and hundreds of actual handmade signs displayed at the million-plus 9/12 rally in Washington.

There are groups and individuals who would like to constrict the tea-party movement to fiscal issues.

That would be a huge mistake.

It’s not just about government spending, even though it was government spending that precipitated the unprecedented, spontaneous, grass-roots uprising.

More precisely, it’s about the law of the land and the will of the people.

It’s about a nation whose government has lost its moorings.

It’s about self-government.

And, fundamentally, it is about the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Both tea-party fans and detractors alike do a disservice to the movement, and underestimate it, by trying to suggest it’s about this issue or that issue. Issues are fleeting. They change from day to day, week to week, month to month and year to year. If this is going to be a movement that lasts, that transcends, that makes a far-reaching impact, it needs to get beyond the momentary and search deep for meaning.

Here’s how I define the tea-party manifesto:

Like America’s forefathers, we believe we are accountable to a sovereign God who grants us unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Like America’s forefathers, we believe the Constitution strictly limits the power of the federal government and uniquely recognizes and protects those unalienable individual rights.

That’s simple.

And, from my experience, it represents the core values and beliefs of the overwhelming number of tea-party participants and activists.

Are there atheists among the tea-party crowd?

I’m sure there are. There were undoubtedly some atheists among America’s founders. Nevertheless, they signed on to documents based on these two principles because they understood it represented perhaps the only true roadmap to liberty.

Did they also itemize their grievances with the Crown?

Sure they did.

But they didn’t allow those individual grievances to divide them or to obscure their goal of self-government.

Neither must we.

Ultimately, as a people, we’re either going to be accountable to God or we’re going to be accountable to government.

As Bob Dylan said, “You gotta serve somebody.”

If we are not accountable to God, we are incapable of self-government. The founders knew that. They were right. It’s a biblical principle. It has been demonstrated a thousand times throughout history.

This is a time for first principles.

It’s not just about health care or stimulus bills or bailouts or cap-and-trade or redistribution of wealth.

It’s about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

If we want to redirect the country, we will need to think beyond the immediate.

If you want a vision of what has motivated and energized millions of Americans to get off their rear ends and into the streets, you need to consider the vision our founders gave us in establishing this unique experiment in liberty.

That’s a vision that can be and is being accepted by 99.9 percent of the tea-party movement.

It’s a beautiful vision. It’s a unifying vision. It’s a winning vision.

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