Why The Tea Party Is Essential: Liberty, Prosperity And Justice
Apr. 6 2011 – 2:32 pm | 2,678 views | 0 recommendations | 6 comments
By BILL FLAX
“The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice. . . It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution” — Barack Obama, lamenting that the Warren Court wasn’t as radical as he wished.
America has forgotten her roots and the limited government which produced the greatest mixture of freedom and prosperity in history. Like their modern counterparts, the first tea partiers sensed this. They rejected a government that betrayed its ideals. Today’s Tea Party primarily focuses on the economic aspects of government expansion, but even as prosperity is a profound blessing, it is freedom we must defend.
When King George demanded we buy his tea, colonists objected. Astonished at their outrage, Parliament authored tax subsidies to contrive consent. It became a test of wills over sovereignty. Was the king supreme or did justice reign? The price of tea reduced dramatically, but Americans chose principles over handouts and threw the tea into the bay. Patriots could accept neither Britain’s mandates nor her bribes. When the redcoats embarked to confiscate our guns the minutemen cast off British tyranny for good.
America’s founders established the rule of law and not of men. A nation built on God, guns and guts where justice reigns instead of kings. We still talk about justice in America, but in modern parlance, its meaning has been corrupted.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, justice entails conformity to moral principles, or laws. Legally, justice means conformity to the Constitution affording equal protection for all. Morally, it’s living rightly in accordance to standards of behavior. Economically, justice necessitates our transactions be freely conducted and fairly measured.
Justice reflects precision more so than accuracy. Rewards and punishments should be based on merit, but such cannot be determined arbitrarily by the wielders of power. Because those measuring the results are tempted to abuse power, prudence requires adherence to standards. Society would rather acquit criminals than violate due processes. We fear government encroachments more than letting guilty men walk. The “means” must trump the “ends.”
Justice as employed by popular culture combines elements of law, morality and economics, but in very unjust manners. Justice has been changed from precision to fixed standards and into accuracy against shifting standards. It is now measured against political correctness. By measuring outcomes under collective applications based on Marxist conceptions of “economic justice” or “social justice,” the gate has been pried open. Empowering the state to enforce egalitarianism offers it free rein so long as the “ends” justify the “means.”
There is no legal standing for social programs or welfare at the federal level in our Constitution. The “general welfare” clause was not an empowerment to dispense handouts, but a stricture preventing the federal government from acting domestically in ways that augmented particular parties rather than the general public. Obviously, handouts are quite particular as are most politically correct social programs. America devolves into a polity of demographic interest groups focused on quotas and bean counting under the guise of social justice.
Social justice is fashionable amongst those longing to control the lives of others as well as those esteeming themselves as wise or virtuous. Like modern Gnostics relishing in some secret knowledge that surpasses the received wisdom of the ages, intellectuals proclaim the way forward. They view the Constitution as quaint or anachronistic. The intellectual class pontificates their theories playing with pretend money impervious to the disruptions they unleash. They experiment with our lives while sheltered behind ivy covered college walls or tucked away in media shaping reality on keyboards to suit utopian fantasies.
Meanwhile, the Pharisees in Washington exhibit scant fiscal discipline while playing with others’ money. They seek to engineer society according to the latest progressive fads. If your company doesn’t have the right racial mix or buys too much energy, these sanctimonious elitists bear no qualms skewing the scales and abusing property rights to enforce politically correct dogma. As resources get filtered through the state’s machinations, our liberty and prosperity are sacrificed on an altar of political correctness.
Politicians base these policies on populism not principles. Higher taxes and larger handouts expand their reach so they sow discontent with our worldly estates in relation to those who have more. But the state can give nothing except what is first extracted from someone else. Demagogues encourage covetousness to justify looting their constituents. Class antagonisms and redistributive “social justice” can be deemed neither social nor just even if some of their booty gets distributed to the “poor” in exchange for votes. Elections are popularity contests and crowds will frequently demand injustice, but plurality doesn’t grant license to plunder.
Whether we term these ploys “compassionate conservatism” or “social justice,” they violate the “essential constraints” embedded in the Constitution. Governments offer incentives, regulate, subsidize or impose quotas not according to constitutional precedent or free market principles, but progressive cloud dancing and political rent seeking. Enforcing utopia is rarely just and never effective.
In the name of compassion we increase the minimum wage and thus relegate those least employable to the unemployment line. We subsidize housing for the poor and thus drive prices beyond their reach while also ushering in financial chaos. We introduce tariffs or pay farmers not to farm, thus raising prices for everyone else. We empower unions to the detriment of nonunion workers in ways which explode state and local budgets. We subsidize green energy to steer the economy, but spark food riots abroad. We promote affirmative action to overcome past wrongs, but mock the very ideals its proponents purport and demean its recipients.
These policies may satiate the shifting sentiments of progressive elitists, but each applies very partial justice and undermines the market’s efficiency. They render society poorer. Worse, the implementation of social engineering through government gifts comes at the price of obedience and at the risk of oppression.
It was President Obama’s abuses of power and extravagant spending that launched the modern Tea Party. Like King George, Obama thinks himself above the law. The stimulus spending did more to funnel taxpayer money to those who helped elect him than boost the economy. He mandates we buy insurance then scurrilously dispenses Obamacare waivers according to potential votes or campaign contributions. Without abiding by the Constitution, the law is whatever Obama deems it. Justice becomes whatever he can get away with.
Society instituted governments to defend the God given inalienable rights resident in our persons and property; not to favor certain parties or promote specific outcomes according to political calculation. If everyone was just or we could all defend ourselves, government would be redundant. As James Madison encapsulated, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” We’re not angels so government must protect against crime, fraud and foreign invasion, but those inhabiting government aren’t angels either. Their authority must be well-defined and limited. Domestic functions are best administered locally where politicians are more easily held to account.
The founders enacted strict checks and balances between branches of government and levels of government. They looked not to Athens, whose democracy quickly devolved from demagoguery into despotism, but to republican Rome. Federalism, a divided legislature, temporary investiture of power in the executive and the procedural rules of governance all promote stasis. This system valued constancy and tradition. It makes sudden disruptive changes based on passing passions unlikely. Anything not enumerated was denied the pretentious meddling of public servants.
Very little of Washington’s present activity conforms to the powers enumerated in the Constitution. A government which violates the very document which governs its legitimacy clearly lacks justice. They prove Augustine prophetic when he warned, “Remove justice and what are kingdoms but gangs of criminals on a vast scale.”
For example, the administration looted Chrysler’s bondholders by flagrantly violating bankruptcy protocol when they gifted the company to their allies at the UAW. The defrauded investors were just “rich speculators” who couldn’t parlay their opposition into a voting bloc. Without constitutional protections, social justice becomes two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner under the facade of government legitimacy.
Our judiciary has failed to stem this tide. Many jurists, fallen sway to progressivism, find the Constitution they are sworn to uphold a hindrance. They too long to be free of its shackles just as the other branches strive incessantly to expand their grasp. They know better than we how to live our lives. If the courts won’t defend the Constitution, then Congress must, which will require concerted efforts of engaged patriots.
As constitutional foundations erode, the ambitious souls in politics act as magnets pulling us towards more centralized control. They bribe us with our money. They want power. We want handouts. Against these human frailties, constitutional constraints offer little more protection than double yellow lines on a highway. A republic works extraordinarily well when citizens remain vigilant, but unless we steadfastly resist government’s usurpations, little impedes the march of Leviathan.
The hazards inherent in empowering government to achieve the latest progressive theories extend far beyond the economy. For all their self-proclaimed wisdom and moral superiority, the ideas that captivated intellectuals during the 20th century made it the most barbarous period in history. Justice requires concrete standards. Don’t go moving boundary stones according to the fleeting fashions of the moment. Those governments unbound from tradition and unhindered by laws have proven history’s greatest exacters of injustice. The National Socialists, Communists, Jacobins and other tyrants all secured power by promising handouts or espousing equality according to the latest intellectual currents.
Many say such could never happen here. France at its revolution and Germany when Hitler assumed power were respectively the most sophisticated nations in Europe for their eras. The Nazis and Jacobins thought they’d progressed beyond quaint notions of custom or legality. Unmoored from tradition and unrestrained by any defined standard of justice, nothing prevented the bloodbaths which ensued.
With a malleable Constitution subject to interpretation according to political expediency, might makes right. Think logically where this leads. Power is great if you control it. If not, well, hopefully whoever does likes you. Letting officials pick winners rather than apply impartiality segues to evil. As we relinquish the protections afforded by the Constitution, we subject our fates to the arbitrary desires of depraved men. The most devious politicians are far too often those who accrue the greatest power. Why yield power to the power hungry? That’s never worked well.
It’s trendy today to disregard the Constitution and ridicule tradition, but true justice demands fealty to the Constitution. The Tea Party is essential to that end. America must return to her roots in limited government. Government must revert to being a protector of rights, not the dispenser of favors and controller of subjects.
Otherwise, oppression is the ineluctable cul-de-sac down the one way road we race.