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On the Political Fire Triangle: Video Essay for May 5, 2012

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On the Political Fire Triangle: Essay for May 5, 2012

It has been said that the tea party has actually preserved the Republican Party from sliding towards insignificance by electing to remain a part of its conservative wing rather than attempting to establish a standalone third party. The informational and electoral efforts of the tea party since 2009 have sent a clear message to Americans that there is a sizeable and growing force for limited government and limited taxation. In recent months we have also seen a decided cleaving of some elements of the movement towards vocalizing a social agenda.

It is important to note that the tea party does not yet have the critical mass to become a third party. In the near term it cannot grow to a size that would command a majority without a collaborative effort of other conservative voices within the Republican Party. In some circles this collaboration would seem to be natural and welcomed; in other circles, it can be seen as impolite. But a collaboration of some sort is inevitable.

The tea party does not equal third party and impolite does not equal impolitic. We have seen over the past week just how much the Republican National Committee (in tea party terms “the Establishment”) cannot control these rabble-rousers from the small-p party of change, the tea party. We saw strong evidence of such rabble-rousing this past weekend in the National Convention caucuses in Massachusetts and Louisiana. Delegate slates selected by the State Party pledged to Mitt Romney went down to defeat, down in flames, to well organized efforts by supporters of Ron Paul, the last remaining challenger to a near certain Romney nomination.

It begs the question, “How did the rabble-rousers get so organized?” The better question may be, “Why did the State Party ignore the passion of the most grassroots active, if not well healed, part of their Party?” The fact is that there are many well organized groups within each State whose grass root support has been taken for granted. They may not frequent the same circles as the so-called establishment Republicans but they certainly have a similar passion for conservative and libertarian viewpoints. The establishment types would like them to play by the rules. These new insurgents simply said, “We just did and we beat you fair and square.”

It remains to be seen but I suspect these insurgents do not desire to undermine Mitt Romney as much as to have an influence over Party platform. In true tea party form, they want to be heard. They want to upset but not up-end the status quo. But we will have to wait and see. Rule 38 of the Republican National Committee may well leave open the question of constitutionality of the Unit Rule that binds any delegate to a certain unanimous group vote. Does this leave a chance for a convention challenge to Mitt Romney from Ron Paul supporters, or others? I hope not.

For the record, I supported Mitt Romney in 2008 and I support him in 2012. I hope this challenge to authority is a warning shot across the bow to the RNC leadership but not a direct hit. If it changes the outcome of the Convention or serves to distract the Romney Campaign from its’ daily duty to win in November to winning in August, it is not a good thing for America.

America needs to relieve itself of the Obama Administration. It sorely does. More importantly, it needs to install a Romney Administration. It is time to forget about any illusion of Ron Paul, Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich winning the nomination. Not in this year divisible by four, at least. The collective goal of those right-minded individuals ought to be, must be, to win back the Presidency in 2012. And along the way, it must secure the House majority and fight to at least win a slim majority in the Senate in order to get the gavel back from Harry Reid.

The Presidency will come down to winning the Battleground States. It always seems to. Massachusetts being the home of Mitt Romney may not be enough to carry the State against President Obama. One may have to leave that burden to voters in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and the like. The heavy lifting in Massachusetts must be for the reelection of Senator Scott Brown and a number of Congressional candidates who have a shot, however slim, of infiltrating the delegation. There are several who might do so with the right combination of dedicated grassroots support and adequate financial backing.

This is the shoreline where establishment meets insurgency around a candidate. A good candidate is the fuel that burns. The establishment can provide the financial resources to a campaign as heat; the insurgency has demonstrated it can provide the oxygen.

Fuel, heat and oxygen. It is the fire triangle. Without each element, there is no flame. It is high time that our feuding Party factions stop messing with the Political Fire Triangle. Deprive the triangle of heat or oxygen and the fuel will not burn. You can ask any Fireman.

Press on.

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On the Real Tea Party: Video Essay for April 13, 2012

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On the Real Tea Party: Essay for April 13, 2012

Do you remember April 2009? Tax Day to be exact. That is when the Tea Party first emerged as a force to be reckoned with. T-E-A: Taxed Enough Already. Clearly the message was one about the profligate government spending paralleling an excess of government intrusion in our lives. The Obamacare debate was beginning. Cap and Trade was raging. TARP was in full swing. The Stimulus was being enacted.

Across the land sprung up spontaneous protests. T-E-A protests. Protests urging Congressmen to have Town Hall style meeting with constituents. Americans from the mainstream had determined that the government had become unresponsive to their pleas. This movement was not representative of a party. In fact, there may be more people unaffiliated with party than with. It was philosophical as to the scope of government, to the torrent of government spending and debt and to the spirit of American individualism.

That movement in April 2009 caught a head of steam that propelled it into and beyond the November 2010 elections. Political titans fell and a new legion of citizen-legislators rose to take their place. That almost all of the new Congressmen elected were Republicans is misleading. These candidates were running against the political class and the members of that political class that most needed changing happened to be Democrats.

It is now April 2012, a full three years since the first volleys were exchanged in the rebellion to retake control of our government for the people. Some grassroots organizations still exist with fiscal conservatism and wariness of big government intervention as their hallmarks. Other organizations, such as the Tea Party Express, went national with obvious electoral agendas. Still others have taken a turn towards advocating a socially conservative agenda. Somehow they all claim the title of Tea Party advocates.

And they are all correct. There is a very large umbrella under which can fit people of varying beliefs all tied together with one single thread: government is not paying attention to our demands to make it smaller and more responsive to our collective voices.

There has been a lot of chatter on the social media pages regarding who truly speaks for the heart and soul of the Tea party. The answer is simple: nobody does. Therein lays its beauty and its power. When opponents attempt to grab hold of the Tea Party it is as if they are grabbing a piece of a cloud. The Tea Party is ephemeral. It speaks for everyone by allowing the many who gather under its large umbrella a platform to voice their opinions as our history has allowed us and permitted us to so do.

Whatever confusion that diversity of opinion amongst Tea Party groups may create is largely irrelevant. To be sure, the movement will not attract those of a liberal persuasion. Those 30 to 40 percent will seek to cast their ballots elsewhere. No matter how the media portrays the movement, it will not alter their perceptions of the Tea Party one iota. The remainder constitutes the target audience for a more responsible government on many levels. What better ways to connect with people whose priorities are staggered from yours than by offering them a choice?

This Sunday afternoon on Boston Common will gather a Patriots Day Rally. Their website poll reflects the economy and government ethics as the top two vote getting issues. Their speaker line up reflects those issues, to be sure, as well as Libertarians, pastors and rabbis. The rally will likely start on those topics and include commentary by social conservatives, as well.

There is another Tea Party Rally in Worcester that same day. This one is more focused upon the Taxed-Enough-Already theme that sparked the upheaval three years ago. Their website identifies Real American Values of Capitalism, Individual Rights and Freedom for All. Their speakers that day will no doubt reflect upon those American values.

So what is a person to do? Which Tea Party rally is best? Who represents the real Tea Party? It is a silly question. Our individual sense of liberty and freedom of choice tell us that the best course of action is to select the one that best reflects our personal expectation of the pursuit of happiness.

The Tea Party succeeds because it cannot be conveniently categorized. It succeeds because it is not monolithic in nature. It is the epitome of liberty and freedom of expression. It is a modern day Town Hall meeting where every citizen has a voice and is given a forum to speak.

Let the major political parties cultivate their image. This is a party with a small “p.” Everyone is invited but nobody has to attend. Don’t worry about any bad press. It is part of the equation. We won’t win the media war. The only war we have to win is in November. Perhaps we can reschedule any internal battles about the heart and soul of the Tea Party until after our victory celebrations.

Press on.

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On Defining Moments: Video Essay for March 29, 2012


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On Defining Moments: Essay for March 29, 2012

In our nation’s history, there have been numerous defining moments. They are times characterized by incredible amounts of courage and foresight, principle and action. The root of all defining moments for these United States of America took place on July 4, 1776, in Congress assembled, when the founders signed a declaration with the most empowering words the world had ever, and still has ever, known.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Thirteen years later, many of these same founders developed a constitution that precisely delineated how this government was to derive those powers from the governed. They created three distinct branches of government to provide the checks and balances necessary to dampen any intemperate actions of the executive and legislative branches. They did so by applying the scrutiny of the judiciary through a laborious process that ultimately rests with the Supreme Court of the United States.

And so our country now finds itself at a defining moment in its history. We have concluded the oral argument phase regarding the Constitutionality of several provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. What is at stake here reaches far beyond a debate about health care or medical treatment. It is not a disagreement between the rich and poor in America. It is not about where our morality lies.
What is at stake here is a single word: Liberty. Can our government compel its citizens to do something against their will under penalty of tax? The Declaration of Independence lists no fewer than 27 grievances against the British Crown, including this one, “For imposing taxes on us without our consent.”

It is thought that the Supreme Court of the United States will announce their decision shortly before their summer break in July, almost 236 years to the day the Declaration of Independence was signed that first codified the concept of consent of the governed. It was the first time in history that the rights of the governed limited the acts of government.

Liberty is indeed at stake in this debate. Also at stake is the integrity of the Supreme Court. To the untrained ear, the passion and persuasion of the legal and Constitutional arguments among the protagonists is nothing short of breathtaking. It is a showcase of our Republic. I am certain the whole world is watching but we citizens of America, we descendents of these brave founders, must admire the process that has taken this bitter and hotly contested legislation to a point of resolution.

So what will the Supreme Court decide? I do not know with certainty. I have no crystal ball. But I do have a feeling that despite ideological and political proclivities, despite hull crushing pressure from constituencies across this country, despite the unrelenting media spotlight that will descend upon this Supreme Court, justice will prevail.

I believe the decision will surprise any who think that Presidential appointments anneal a Justice to the party of the appointing President. The line of questioning has been balanced and encouraging to me; so much so, in fact, that I do not foresee a 5-4 decision of an ideologically split court. While I have my own opinion of the outcome I am no Constitutional scholar. We leave that to these professionals, these 9 Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, to determine. I believe they have a sense of the gravity of the moment as well. I believe they see the obvious conflict between the power of the government and the necessary consent of the governed.

Said Thomas Paine in December of 1776:

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

In three months we shall learn the outcome of two years of litigation, frustration and intimidation. We shall learn whether we will emerge from this chapter in our history with a renewed sense of liberty or a heightened sense of despair.

The ball is in their court: the Supreme Court. And I have faith in them.

Press on.

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On Our Iraqi Departure: Video Essay for December 17, 2011

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