Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What a Party

The Gazette's minute-by-minute blog coverage of the Taxpayer Tea Party in Acacia Park at one point estimated a crowd of about 200. What a crock. 200 times 10 or 15 is more like it. I had 300 fliers promoting Limited Government Week in my hand when I arrived on the scene, and they were gone, snapped up like hotcakes, before I waded very far into the throng. That's what you get for being a pessimist.

Congratulations to all those who made this event such a success. They did it with scant "mainstream media" coverage or attention. The unmistakably snide coverage -- Gazette - simply confirms that the denizens of most news rooms are far from "mainstream" themselves. The reporter mischaracterized the crowd as angry. While there may have been a little of that -- some of it justified, in my view -- most of the people I saw or encountered were smiling, having fun and simply exalting in their freedom to air their beefs about the way the country is going. That's as "mainstream" American as baseball and apple pie. They seemed no more "angry" than the people who attended Barack Obama campaign rallies, belittling and denouncing the former administration and screaming for "change."

I was honored to participate as a speaker. What I had to say can be boiled down to a few bullet points, though they may have been garbled in transmission given my meandering ways as a speech-giver.

The problem isn't just in Washington or Denver or in City Hall, I pointed out. It's with We the People -- and especially people who have double standard about government spending -- those who think "pork" can only be found in other congressional districts -- and can't recognize that everything Washington "gives" them, it takes from them with the other hand. "The bucks start here," I said, "and the buck needs to stop here, too, if we want to collar runaway government."

I said change won't come to Washington until we in the hinterland begin to rediscover the old American virtues of self reliance, self-determination, and self-discipline. The second American revolution will only happen when we rediscover the virtues of limited government. The more we ask of government, the larger it becomes and the more it takes from us.

The second American Revolution doesn’t require violence or upheaval. It begins quietly, when each of us begins asking less of the government and looking more to ourselves for the answers and solutions. The first tea party, in Boston, was about taxation without representation. Today the problem is different. Today we have over-taxation with over-representation -- meaning that Washington now wants to do for us what we should do for ourselves. We’re asking more than we ought to of Washington, which gives it license to tax us and regulate us at will.

Some people laugh off the idea of limited government as an anachronism. But limited government has a flip side, I said. Limited government liberates and empowers people. Unlimited government enslaves them. It's something the founders understood. And it's as true today as it was back then.

I had selected three quotes, from a varied (and bipartisan) list of luminaries, to underscore the point, but I wandered off the script and they never made it in. Here they are, taken from the archive of quotes kept at

John F. Kennedy: "Every time that we try to lift a problem from our own shoulders, and shift that problem to the hands of the government, to the same extent we are sacrificing the liberties of our people."

Ronald Reagan: ""Man is not free unless government is limited ... As government expands, liberty contracts."

And, finally, I had planned to use this beautiful quote from Edward Gibbon, author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon here was writing about Athens, not Rome. But the lessons have universal relevance: "In the end more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free."

I was particularly moved when the crowd, near the end of the program, sang "My Country Tis of Thee," something I hadn't sang since elementary school, I realized, and rarely if ever hear any more.

Those are the points I tried to make today, even if something got lost in translation once my mouth started motoring. I was honored to speak. I hope Taxpayer Tea Parties becomes an April 15 tradition.


Carla said...

Sean: I was at the party and I can't believe the Gazette estimated the crowd at 200. Perhaps 200 in my small corner of the park, but there were clearly a significant number of people there of all shapes, sizes, colors, ages, etc. Great job with your comments. I'm looking forward to seeing coverage on the news tonight. There will be coverage, right?

tiffany d. pache said...

I have to say that everything you say in this makes sense and I agree. I also agree with Gibbons quote - the real problem here is that we have traded security, as the Athenians had, for our own liberty. Having said this, I don't know how American culture would ever go back to the days when we had limited government and wore responsibility for our democracy upon our own backs.