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Commentary from the Free Enterprise Foundation, Ethical Standard More Thought Provoking Commentary!
May 04, 2010
You are invited to read this commentary from the Free Enterprise Foundation. It will make you think!
Just Leave Me Alone
By Robert E. Freer, Jr., President of The Free Enterprise Foundation
“The natural law of inertia: Matter will remain at rest or continue in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted upon by some external force.” - W. Clement Stone
"The right to be left alone -- the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by a free people." - Justice Louis Brandeis, Olmstead v. U.S. (1928).
Back in 2006, I did an article on the right to privacy and its role in the growing frustration of our citizens. Here we are four years later, and an email I received from a long term reader of mine in Virginia is setting me on the trail anew. Her perceptive remarks portray the reality of The Tea Party phenomenon in a light I had not previously considered and may pose the central issue as to whether it will amount to anything beyond public gatherings to reflect dissent with the course of the country.
She begins, “You know people are really angry, and yet the people that I know who are Libertarian, for instance, are not ‘activists’. They really want to be left alone. I think what people really are, is ‘sad’ to see what is happening here in the USA.” She goes on to contemplate those who are unwilling to contribute time or money to freeing our country from socialism and laments her own inner turmoil in saying that she can understand that. She writes, “I do not want to get involved. I do not want to mess up my life. I have most of what I need as it stands now.”
Her agony is gut wrenching in that many of those she meets involved in the movement have a social agenda with which she does not agree and are, in her view, as manipulative of the public’s freedom and privacy as those presently steering our ship of state to destruction. Pulled to protest the loss of essential freedom, pulled to leave well enough alone; unhappy no matter what, she strikes out at the “professorial class” who should be required to work in the “real world” before being given power to teach our children. Suffering from that disability, I can say responsibility is far broader than the “professorial class.”
As to the rest, however, I agree with her, and from my own experience speaking before the Tax Day Tea Party here in Charleston, I am concerned that the message of my April 8 article in The Mercury regarding what needs to be done is being lost in normal primary politicking that is guaranteed to end up not achieving the stated goals of the movement.
If the movement’s attention is diverted to politics as usual including a broad array of social issues, it won’t get government off the publics’ backs. It won’t lead to an adjustment in the relationship of the federal and state governments to that intended by The Constitution, and it will not restrain the federal government spending to an amount that we can afford. The federal government will continue in its spendthrift ways to crowd out any possibility of sufficient tax dollars for the states to be the primary fashioner of “welfare” services for the people.
Before speaking at the rally here, I walked among, spoke with and shook hands with several hundred. Almost to a person, they were focused on small government and preservation of personal privacy from governmental incursion. My presentation to them from the steps was modeled on the prescription of my April 8, op-ed, and on effective action to bring about the result they seek. It will not be achieved by anything other than non-partisan action by an engaged electorate on those goals seek. If the movement focuses on anything else, it risks being co-opted by party politics.
Candidly, it is unlikely main stream Democrats will support the action The Tea Party seeks, but that does not suggest the strategy should be anything other than laser like focus on seeking commitments by all candidates, regardless of party label for the requirements of the smaller government it seeks. A powerful policy argument can be mustered for these policies by broadly educating the public. That should be the goal of the Tea Party.
Education through Town Hall meetings and participation in voter forums will create the groundswell of support for the broadest reform of essential financial and structural change in federal government procedures regardless of party, and it will remove divisive social issues from threatening the organization’s cohesiveness. The movement is spread over more than half our population in recent figures. There is no way that there is agreement in that broad group for the plethora of social issues that are represented by the beliefs of half the electorate. Those issues, important as some of them may be, can best be left for another day and, in many cases, for non-governmental respect for personal privacy.
Seeking candidate commitment for the corps agenda creates accountability. The Tea Party message is a non partisan, powerful and a positive message of renewal and restoration of the America intended by our ancestors and pined for by the vast middle of our country today. That is where it should stay. It should not stray. Staying united on smaller, fiscally balanced government with a workable ceiling on its share of national wealth, no unfunded federal mandates, and deference to the states for primary responsibility for it citizens’ welfare, will change the game in Washington. Term limits will return the emphasis to public service for “a season” in our lives and prevent it becoming “a career” and restoring “trust fund” liquidity will secure our security and welfare for the foreseeable future. To seek more risks all!
Copyright © 2009 by Robert E. Freer, Jr. All rights reserved
About the author: Robert E. Freer, Jr., is president of the Free Enterprise Foundation. He is also a professor at The Citadel and was selected in 2005 to be their first John S. Grinalds Leader in Residence and in 2009 to be their first BB&T Visiting Professor in Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership. A regular contributor to the Mercury, Prof. Freer may be reached at Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like him to appear before your group or organization to speak on any of the subjects about which he writes, please contact him at The Citadel. Copies of his earlier columns may be found at The Free Enterprise Foundation
This article may be republished unedited in its entirety provided that copyright statement and author by-lines are kept intact and unchanged and hyperlinks and/or URLs provided by the author remain active.
Please sent any comments to Robert Freer, President of The Free Enterprise Foundation
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