Happy 1st birthday tea-party movement

It’s still difficult to believe that last week President Obama actually celebrated Feb. 17 as the first anniversary of his stimulus plan (a.k.a. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), in which Washington borrowed $862 billion on American taxpayers’ credit. Celebrate the piling of $1 trillion on the backs of our posterity? Call me clueless, but I’ve never considered easing present circumstances by going into massive amounts of debt as an answer to anyone’s economic recovery and longevity.

But I bet there’s one date the president definitely won’t be celebrating: this Saturday, Feb. 27, which marks the first anniversary (or first birthday) of the tea-party movement.

To think, last year at this time, the mainstream media and Washington politicians were either completely overlooking them or labeling those patriot gatherings as extreme and wacky fringe resistances. WorldNetDaily was virtually alone in reporting the tea parties as a legitimate patriotic movement, like the original 1773 protest in Boston Harbor.

Today, just one year later, tea-party patriots have proven themselves as a collective and formidable force and foe against big government power and corruption. Even according to the latest CBS News/New York Times poll, roughly one in five adult Americans identifies with the tea-party movement.

Tea-party patriots cross all partisan lines. What unifies us is our fundamental belief that what America’s founders established was good and right, that we’ve largely abandoned their vision, and the only recourse to reawaken America is to return to their principles and values. But that is easier said than done, as progressives have worked double-time to discredit and undermine them and the very pillars of their republic.

A few years back, an editor at the New York Times wrote, “The Founding Fathers were paranoid hypocrites and ungrateful malcontents.” He’s not alone. Many liberals in media and higher education share his sentiments, labeling our Founding Fathers as racists, bigots, chauvinists and charlatans, among other things. This is not only ungrateful – it’s wrong. It’s their contributions, not their character flaws, that we should be highlighting. As Samuel Adams said in 1771, “Let us first see it prov’d that they were mistakes. ‘Till then we must hold ourselves obliged to them for sentiments transmitted to us so worthy of their character, and so important to our security.”

Thomas G. West, professor of politics at the University of Dallas, rightly acknowledged our founders’ worth in his excellent book “Vindicating the Founders” by pointing out that they “set up a government that did what no democracy had ever done before: It combined majority rule with effective protection for minority rights. It enabled a larger number of men and women to live in prosperity and liberty than any other nation has ever done.”

Of course, the founders weren’t perfect, but they were far better than what leftist professors and progressives make them out to be. We know that most of the founders regarded slavery as a wrong that would have to be addressed. They knew that equal rights applied to all: men, women and children – slave and free. They did not achieve all they wanted, but what they did achieve was miraculous. That miracle is our heritage. As Joseph Ellis stated in his narrative masterpiece, “Founding Brothers,” the Constitutional Convention should be called “the miracle of Philadelphia …”

America’s Founding Fathers gave us the framework and foundations to experience freedom and liberty for all. But we can’t do that unless we know who they were, what they stood for and what they achieved. To restore America, we need to reclaim our past and learn from it. It is only by turning back and examining the past that we can reawaken or (if you will) reboot our country.

Unfortunately, those who want to reconstruct our constitutional government, redefine our founding documents and revise our history according to their ideological whims are being allowed to do just that because of the apathy of too many well-meaning Americans. If we don’t care about our past, if we don’t learn our history, if we don’t cherish the Constitution and the principles of the Declaration of Independence, then just as we have allowed ourselves to be robbed of our past, so too will America be robbed of its rightful future. The first thing we need to do to restore America is to insist that our government officials abide by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and that they rightly interpret their tenets. If, like most people, you’re a little rusty on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, here’s a quick primer or reminder of what our government was meant to be – and should be.

In 1776, by an act of the Second Continental Congress, the original 13 colonies of North America adopted a Declaration of Independence, dissolving their relations with England. America would be a confederation of independent countries (“states”). In 1777, the Articles of Confederation (our first Constitution and governing document) was written and adopted by the Second Continental Congress, though not ratified until 1781. The Federalists soon recognized the deficiencies in the Articles of Confederation, and so they called for a constitutional convention in Philadelphia in 1787. By the end of their four-month convention, the United States Constitution was adopted, though not completely ratified until 1790. It has been amended 27 times since. (The first 10 amendments constitute the Bill of Rights.)

The whole point of the Constitution is to provide a framework for our government, to set its rules, and to protect our rights by limiting government power. The Constitution requires that the president and members of Congress “be bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this constitution.” In other words, every elected member of the federal government is accountable for abiding by the Constitution. We the people must hold them accountable. But how many of us hold our elected leaders to account? And how far have we allowed the federal government and federal courts to take powers that the Constitution doesn’t give them? When we do, we let them rob us of our own freedom, and of the rights to self-determination that our forefathers wanted us to have. It’s time to bombard the White House and congressional leaders with copies of our Constitution and remind them that we the people are going to hold them accountable to it or we’ll vote them out.

America’s greatest problem is that we have forgotten our roots. Too many of us don’t know or don’t feel connected to those who founded our country.

Case in point, in 2007, a national survey commissioned by the U.S. Mint found that only 30 percent of Americans knew that Thomas Jefferson was our third president, and only 7 percent could name the first four presidents in order. If you’re a part of the 93 percent, then you know that they were George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. The fact is most Americans don’t have a clue why our founders created this country, what principles motivated them or why they framed our Constitution the way they did.

As citizens of this great country, we need to renew our understanding of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. We need to go back and study the debates between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists, to understand why many founders like Thomas Jefferson were very concerned about a run-away federal government. We need to examine other important documents of our history, like the Articles of Confederation, the Bill of Rights and the Northwest Ordinance. We need to sit down and learn all the important American history we should have learned in school – and probably didn’t.

You might not have thought it mattered then. But you have to understand that it matters now. If Americans don’t know their constitutional history, then they won’t care, or even acknowledge, that our Constitution of liberty is being transformed into a charter for big government, which is exactly what has happened over a period of decades. Clearly, the government we have today is not the government outlined in the Constitution. It’s grown far beyond the limits the Constitution sets – and as a result we are facing dangers from which the Constitution’s framers tried to preserve us.

The framers set out a path for us, and we’ve strayed from it. And the first thing any rational man does when he’s lost his way is to look at a map. If you think, as I do, that America has taken a wrong turn, studying America’s Revolutionary history is the first step to helping us find our way back. Just like millions of tea-party patriots have already done.

To find a tea-party birthday celebration in your area this Saturday, Feb. 27, check out the various gatherings under “events” at Teaparty.freedomworks.org.

Happy first birthday tea-party patriots! If participants in the Boston Tea Party of 1773 laid the groundwork for the Declaration of Independence just three years later, imagine what impact you can have by the time you celebrate your third birthday.

And to think they thought you were just fleeting fringe fanatics!

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