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April 17, 2009

Those Radical Right-Wing Patriots

My fellow Patriot “right-wing extremists” (or as Barack Obama prefers to describe you, those who are “bitter and cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them”), it is no small irony that, in the same week the central government demands payment of any income tax they hadn’t already withheld (read: “pilfered”) from our paychecks for redistribution, we observe Patriots Day.

April 19th marks the 234th anniversary of the early morning ride of Paul Revere and William Dawes to Concord, Massachusetts, in order to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that British troops were coming to arrest them and seize their weapons. Revere was captured but Dawes and Samuel Prescott, who had joined them along the way, escaped and continued toward Concord. Dawes later fell from his horse, but Prescott, who knew the area well enough to navigate at night, made it to Concord in time to warn the Sons of Liberty.

Protests had been taking place since 1765 over increased taxation and other indignities, resulting most notably in the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773, when colonists boarded three ships in Boston Harbor and threw English tea overboard. The grievances against the imperial authorities were many, but they found their voice in one familiar phrase: “No taxation without representation.”

In the early dawn of April 19th, Captain John Parker, commander of the militiamen at Lexington (citizens, mostly farmers, who could muster with arms), ordered, “Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they want a war let it begin here.” And it did – American Minutemen fired the “shot heard round the world,” as immortalized by Ralph Waldo Emerson, confronting the British on Lexington Green and at Concord’s Old North Bridge.

A year later, American Patriots formalized their grievances in the Declaration of Independence, and some 3 percent of the colonists took up arms to battle the well equipped British regulars for almost eight years, until victory was won.

In 1787, our Patriot founders codified a Constitution of Government for their hard-won republic. For almost 150 years, our Constitution stood true to its original intent, just as our Founders, and more important, “the people,” had willed it. But constitutional rule of law suffered repeated humiliation during the Great Depression, as FDR used the economic crisis as cover to implement “change,” ostensibly at the behest of “hope.”

The result was a “Living Constitution” for a Dying Republic.

In the 1930s, FDR launched myriad socialist programs and redefined the role of the central government. He proposed to pay for his folly through excess taxation, proclaiming, “Here is my principle: Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.” (Of course, that wasn’t an “American principle,” but a paraphrase of Karl Marx’s Communist maxim, “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.”)

More recently, under cover of yet another economic crisis, Barack Obama and his Leftist cadres in Congress have authorized trillions of dollars of government spending programs. Many economists believe the generational tax burden for these programs will, by design, prove the demise of free enterprise in America. As Obama’s chief water boy, Rahm Emanuel, announced, “Rule 1 of the Obama administration: Never allow a crisis to go to waste. They are opportunities to do big things.”

Indeed, Obama and company accomplished this subterfuge in their first 60 days, and the magnitude of their ruse is staggering – but the inevitable consequences have not gone completely unnoticed.

As it was in the years before the first American Revolution, this week a small but clearly perceptible grassroots movement manifested in the form of more than 750 “Tea Parties” across the nation attracting “hundreds of thousands” of American citizens, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Some other news organizations, with a little prompting from the Department of Homeland Security, preferred to call those citizens “radicals.”

A DHS document, “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” published by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis includes a footnote which defines “rightwing extremism in the United States” to include groups which question federal authority and support states’ rights. It also notes that DHS “will be working with its state and local partners over the next several months” to collect information on these radicals, with “a particular emphasis” on sources of “rightwing extremist radicalization.”

As my colleague Michelle Malkin observed, “What and who exactly are President Obama’s homeland security officials afraid of these days? If you are a member of an active conservative group that opposes abortion, favors strict immigration enforcement, lobbies to protect Second Amendment rights, protests big government, advocates federalism or represents veterans who believe in any of the above, the answer is: You.”

DHS czar Janet Napolitano expressed her concerns about “trends of violent radicalization in the United States,” but insists, “We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not – nor will we ever – monitor ideology or political beliefs. We take seriously our responsibility to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American people, including subjecting our activities to rigorous oversight from numerous internal and external sources.”

The report also took a cheap jab at veterans and active duty military personnel, prompting American Legion national commander David Rehbein to respond: “Your report states that ‘Rightwing extremists were concerned during the 1990s with the perception that illegal immigrants were taking away American jobs through their willingness to work at significantly lower wages. Secretary Napolitano, this is more than a perception to those who have lost their job. Would you categorize union members as 'Right Wing extremists’? I think it is important for all of us to remember that Americans are not the enemy. The terrorists are.”

Perhaps DHS should add a threat warning level colored red, white and blue.

Napolitano could not explain why the DHS “radicalization” report was released just ahead of all the Tea Parties – a mere coincidence, I’m sure.

Of course, “radical” is a term that was correctly associated with anarchists of the 1960s and ‘70s – paradoxically, those who occupy key national leadership positions today. But anarchy is defined as “lawlessness,” which raises an important question: Who better fits that description – conservatives or liberals?

Let’s review: Conservatives have always endeavored to conserve our constitutional republic while liberals have sought to “liberate” America from constitutional rule of law for decades, preferring instead to make all the rules themselves.

Answer: Obama, et al., are the “radicals.”

As for the Tea Parties this week, I wouldn’t describe the level of grassroots discontent as a “powder keg.” At least not yet.

The Tea Party of 1773 was a tactical event, but the rallying cry of “No taxation without representation” provided a unified strategic front.

As more Patriots across the nation take a lesson from our Founders, and make the leap from tactical skirmishes to a unified strategic front, protests will become far more focused and effective.

If I might make a humble suggestion, insisting on the restoration of constitutional rule of law is a worthy unified strategic objective.

While most of my colleagues at the nation’s premier think tank, The Heritage Foundation, have yet to be profiled by DHS as anarchists, their organization has done precisely what I believe every Patriot should do.

Though Heritage will remain on the front lines of the war of ideas, producing some of the best policy analysis available anywhere, they are renewing their strategic emphasis on “First Principles.”

Their revised statement of purpose notes: “We face an education system that upholds mediocrity in the name of relativism; an ever-expanding and centralized government, unmoored from constitutional limits; judges openly making laws and shaping society based on pop-philosophy rather than serious jurisprudence; and growing confusion over America’s legitimate role in the world, made all the more apparent by the fundamental threat posed by radical Islamists. At the root of all these problems is a pervasive doubt about the core principles that define America and ought to inform our politics and policy.”

Consequently, Heritage is focusing its resources to “recall the nation to its first principles, reinvigorate American constitutionalism, and revive the sturdy virtues required for self-government.”

The statement concludes, “In short, our vision, building on the great successes of the modern conservative movement, must now be to save America by reclaiming its truths and its promises and conserving its first principles for ourselves and our posterity.”

So there it is: a template for the strategic commitment every Patriot and every grassroots movement ought to adopt.

With a strategic cause of “restoring constitutional primacy and integrity,” we could then stage tea parties to ask, “What is the constitutional authority for all the government programs now being funded by Congress?” And given that there is no constitutional authority for the redistribution of our wages, we could then adopt a rallying cry of, perhaps, “No taxation without constitutional authority.”

How this plays out in the political arena depends largely on whether we get sucked into “constituency politics” built around tactical issues. Far better to find and support national leaders who can both articulate and advocate for constitutional rule of law, the most pressing issue of our time.

Should the Republican Party ever wish to regain its majorities, it might start by reading Ronald Reagan’s speech, “A Time for Choosing,” and then adopt and abide by his 1984 Republican Platform, which yielded a historic victory.

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