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Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Tea Party is not the extremists you may believe them to be

Senator Ted Cruz, a Tea Party favorite,
is under continuous hateful attacks from liberals and RINOs....
He must be doing something right.
When one hears the Tea Party mentioned, there's generally going to be a variety of negativity attached to it. deliberate attempt by the opposition to make them look like the most horrible people on this planet (oh, the irony).
 Whether you're one that believes all the bad things or a tea party supporter that has put up with said bad things being said, there's been a negative stigma attached to them since their inception.  They've been called extremists and terrorists.  People have nice little nasty names for them Tea Baggers and Teahadists.  They're called the "fringe right" element.  And today, I'm writing to say that not only are all those accusations unfounded and false, but they are also a

What is the Tea Party isn't

Before we get into what the Tea Party actually, let's cover all the things the Tea Party and its supporters are not:
  • Racist
  • Sexist
  • Science Hating
  • Climate Change Denying
  • Extremist
  • Political Terrorists
  • Created by the Koch Brothers / Manufactured by Evil Corporations
Of course, the litany of accusations about the Tea Party could fill an entire page, but these seem to be the major accusations.  So let's just get those out of the way.  In a broad swath of forms, from entertainment to the media itself to raving liberal activists to even members of Congress and the President himself either on the radio, TV, Twitter and other social media, the Tea Party has been called all of these and more.  The effort against the Tea Party has been so successful in its branding that even those who share the same values as the Tea Party are hesitant to voice their support for fear of getting smacked with the RWNJ (Right Wing Nut Job) label.  

But for now, let's put those aside and focus on what the Tea Party actually is...

What the Tea Party is

Origins

Contrary to popular belief the Tea Party movement didn't begin with the election of Barack Obama.  It didn't begin with the passing of Obamacare.  It, in fact, began during the Bush administration as a reaction to TARP and the bank bailouts.  What they saw, at the time, was a grievous injustice to the American people being taxed hundreds of billions of dollars to clean up the mess many banks had left behind in the housing bubble collapse.  This is what gave rise to the modern day Tea Party. Other events, such as Obama's stimulus package and, of course, Obamacare, only strengthened the movement's resolve to do something.  

No, the Koch brothers did not manufacture the Tea Party.  While yes, the Koch Brothers have indeed lent their support to some Tea Party groups, there was no vast hidden conspiracy of right political operatives whipping the "dumb" people into a constitutional frenzy.  The members of the Tea Party were, in fact, just every day people that started to get fed up with the government.  

And the fact that the beginnings of the movement cannot easily be traced to one individual (though Keli Carender is commonly, but not exclusively, cited as the first protest organizer) points to the legitimacy of its grassroots origins (unlike Occupy).  

Beliefs

To sum it up, the core of the Tea Party's beliefs are that:
  • Federal taxes and spending are too high and that the government has a moral obligation to be responsible with the people's tax money.
  • The politicians in Washington are not listening to their constituents and instead believe they vote based on their own personal agenda. 
  • The federal government has been, for decades, eroding the people's constitutional rights.
  • The Constitution has endured the test of time (ie not oudated) and is the foundation on which the country should run.  
While there may be other beliefs someone affiliated with the Tea Party might espouse, you can guarantee that these four are universal among all Tea Party organizations.  

If you were to boil it down further, you could say all the Tea Party wants is for power to return to the people as it was originally outlined in the Constitution.  That's pretty much it. 

Again, these are pretty much every day people alarmed with the way the country is going and doing it the way that the Consitution allowed: peaceful protest and the power of the vote.

Connections with Conservatism

The Tea Party and conservatism go hand in hand.  The reason for this is the Tea Party is based on the notions our founding fathers laid down (hence being named after the Boston Tea Party).  Conservatism, in practice, aims to conserve that founding framework as much as possible because it's been seen as the reason why our country has prospered as much as it has.  But what is that founding framework that has led to our nation's success? It's simple:  The founding fathers knew one thing: the key to success lies in unlocking individual freedom.  When anyone had the opportunity to become great, you increase the nation's success rate much more so than if you just limited greatness to a stagnant upper class (aka nobility/royalty).  However, in order to allow that freedom, two things needed to happen:

  1. The government's power needed to be explicitly restrained.  All of the founding fathers had first hand knowledge how unchecked power can corrupt.  A government without limits is a government ruling despite the people, not for the people.
  2. Citizens needed to have economic freedom, for it's the cornerstone of all other freedoms.  They knew if people were free to keep the fruits of their labors, then they would not only have the incentive to succeed, but the power to do so


This is why you will not see any liberals or left leaning folk affiliated with Tea Parties.  Their beliefs aren't really compatible.  However, this doesn't mean that Democrats and other liberals haven't converted.  One of the Tea Party's staunchest supports, Andrew Breitbart, was a liberal for most of his life.  And, of course, the venerated Ronald Reagan was a liberal long before he was a conservative.  

The Tea Party and Barack Obama

Ok so you know what the Tea Party is about.  And I've also mentioned what it's not about: racism.  Yet, when it comes to President Obama, I believe the relationship between the two needs to be further explained.  Let me just say one thing though:

The Tea Party does NOT oppose Obama because he's black

Despite mounds of evidence showing that is not the case, the lie persists.  Back when the Tea Party protests first started to gain momentum, charges of racism were raised against the protesters.  Claims were made of racist signs and posters being spotted at rallies.  But when Andrew Breitbart vehemently denied these claims and offered $100,000 for proof of this racism at any Tea Party rally, no one could produce the proof.  In fact, the only evidence that might come close to that happened nearly 5 years later when someone at a recent veterans rally had a confederate flag present (which I, and any many others, do not support). Hardly proof of the rampant racism the Tea Party has been accused of.

Anyway, the Tea Party opposes Obama's agenda because it is indeed the most liberal, farthest left of any president before him.  This is what they oppose:
  • The ~$900 billion stimulus that the tax payers ended up paying for, very similar to the bank bailouts, that did nothing to help the economy.  
  • Obamacare's individual mandate and its attempt to take over the healthcare industry.  
  • Obamacare's burden on our economic freedom
  • A number of alarming scandals under his watch:  Fast & Furious, IRS targeting conservatives, Benghazi, mass wire tapping, and criminalizing journalists.   
This is whyTea Partiers, and myself, oppose this president so vehmently.  And it's not only those things, it's how this adminstration truly is different than any other liberal administration before it.  It's different than the Clinton administration or Roosevelt administration.  This is not just "another liberal administration". It's fundamentally different.

No administration has ever been so secretive about their agenda despite their promise to be most open administration in history.  No administration has so brazenly disregarded the law as this one has.  No administration has been so polarizing and uncompromising.  No administration has vilified a news organization or a talk radio host as they've done with Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.  No administration has ever blamed such organizaitons and individuals for their own shortcomings.  No administration has ever attempted to teach the military that evangelical Christians and the Tea Party are extremists despite the fact that the Occupy movement and other leftist advocate groups cause far more destruction, are far more violent, and far more disruptive than anything the Tea Party has ever done.  No administration has systemically purged its military officers that do not agree with their ideology.  No administration has lied so brazenly to the American public.  

We don't oppose this administration because "we lost".  Keep in mind that the Tea Party opposed the liberal stuff the Bush administration did as well, particularly the bank bailouts.  Again, this isn't politics as usual. This administration is different.  And this is why the Tea Party has risen.

Legitimacy

Unlike a great many other advocacy groups, the Tea Party has actually had some real success by doing
exactly what's outlined in the Constitution: they protested peacefully and then spoke with their votes.  They're the reason the Republicans took the House back with a mission to restrain the government from its reckless path.  They did exactly what our constitution outlines.  They did that, and got demonized for it.  Why?  Because this administration, and its public supporters and cohorts, fear a populace that would become wise to their deeds.  If the general public understood and knew what the Tea Party has come to understand and know, they - and every other Democrat - would be swept from office and be kept out for a long time.  So they do their best to make these average people who want the country run according to the constitution look like the worst people possible.  They have to since that's the only way to keep the rest of the country from catching on.  

Sarah Palin has been called many hateful names.
Liberals have even made fun of her mentally
handicapped son, Trig.
So the next time you see someone on TV or facebook disparaging the Tea Party, really take the time to examine their remarks.  It's usually hateful and bigoted.  It's usually highly uninformed.  Keep in mind that a majority of the country identifies with conservative values and morals.  And that what you see on TV and facebook are not how it's like everywhere.  Keep in mind these Tea Partiers are every day people trying to get the government back to the way it should be run through peaceful and legitimate means.  

The irony is that the people telling you the Tea Party are extremists are actually the extremists with beliefs that most Americans do not hold. They want you to believe the Tea Party is the enemy when in fact the Tea Party is for helping all Americans prosper.  They're not extreme, they're standing on principle and integrity.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Keys to repeating the truth

Speaking truth is powerful.  When spoken with true belief and conviction, it can resonate inside someone's soul without them even realizing that's what's happening to them.  From a Christian perspective, this is what's known as planting the seed.  It's the beginning of someone realizing and acknowledging the truth.  Speaking this truth is part of the charge God gave His followers when he set forth the mandate to extend His kingdom here on Earth.  It's the simplest to do, but can also be quite daunting.

So what happens is this:  your average person will have moments of courage will they will speak the truth, despite the fallout it may cause.  Many times it manifests as some type of righteous anger in the face of something that's undermining or belittling that truth.  In these moments, our soul punches through our fear in order to speak out against the wrong being said or done.  And after we're done, we feel a little spent but also content into "letting things lie" for a while.  And understandably so; no one wants to rock the boat too much.

However, when it comes to planting the seed in others, this sort of righteous indignation type of response isn't enough.  It doesn't happen often enough, and admittedly doing so too often will not only wear one out, it can cause avoid damage.  Just like everything, high octane emotional response are great in certain situations, but it's not meant for every day life.  And it's that every day life, that moment after one's spent from an emotionally charged truth speaking moment, that moment when you wake up in the morning and that moment when you go to bed for the evening where speaking the truth needs to be done.  It needs to happen repeatedly, all the time.

So if there's one thing that liberals have gotten right, it's their ability to repeat their messages, no matter how false they may be, ad nauseam until everyone has heard it and, in many times, believe it.  And pay attention to how it's done.  While there are the emotionally charged activists screaming for the rights of albino llamas in Newfoundland, there are other channels, such as the media and television that repeat the messages over and over in not only a calm, rational sounding demeanor, but also in subtle indirect ways that also work to plant the seed of their message in such a way that you wonder why you've never considered the rights of those poor albino llamas.

Of course, this isn't to say that liberals have the right message, because they don't. It's just to point out that they have figured out, much to many Christian and conservatives' chagrin, how to effectively get their message across.

And this is what Christians, and conservatives, need to do as well.  It's very easy to get tired of saying the same thing ad nauseum.  Believe me, I get quite frustrated at times.  But when I come across someone that not only doesn't know the truth, but instead is believing the lie fed to them, it reminds me that if I'm going to get the truth out, I need to be just as relentless as the opposition is.

So, what can an average, every day person do when it comes to speaking the truth?  It's quite simple: you just start speaking it.  And while I'm not to tell someone to tone down their truth speaking or do it in the same way I might, we should do our best to pattern our truth speaking after the Bible.  So with that in mind, here are some guide lines:

Never Condemn - While it may be easy to say something like "You are going to Hell if you keep living this way!", it is not our role.  Just as Jesus came to save and not condemn, so should we.  This goes for any truth speaking.  Do not condemn your audience because of their misdeeds and falsities.  They are already condemned for it.  Not only does this model after Christ, it has a very wise real world application (like most Biblical principles):  people don't like being condemned.  And if there's one way to harden a heart to your message, it's to condemn them.

Speak your Truth with Certainty - If you waiver when speaking the truth, those listening might thing that you do not ardently believe in what you're speaking. It undermines truth's authority.  Yes, there will be people who will challenge you and will want to debate about it.  This is where knowledge about truth will come handy.  However, this doesn't mean you need to be able to intellectually debate those that challenge the truth you speak as speaking the truth is not about winning over a debate right that second.  IT's about relaying the truth, even if they don't immediately accept it.  And if you relay that truth with certainty, even those that would walk away not believing will still have your belief in this truth planted within them.

Always with love - It doesn't matter what truth you are speaking.  Always have love.  Anything done without love is ultimately fruitless.  This includes the angry atheists doing their best to blaspheme God or those people that believe that all Republicans are racists.  Always with love.  Love your fellow man.  Love your neighbor.  Especially those that seem to deserve it the least.  God loved the least of us, so should we.  So when you're speaking the truth, remember that love and temper your message accordingly.  This isn't to say you need to be soft spoken and walk on egg shells.  That's not speaking with love.  It means keeping in mind that you love the person(s) you're speaking to.  Doing so will shape your words and actions in a way that will convey to the other person that you're speaking this message out of love for them, not hatred or the previously mentioned condemnation.

Day in and day out, this is one of the most powerful things Christians can do with extending His kingdom.  But this can also be done in the political ring as well.  And it needs to be done.  Speaking the truth, over and over and over and over and over and over again until you're tired of saying it, then say it some more.  The moment we be quiet for fear of upsetting someone else, is the moment we've lost.  If you truly believe in something, never be afraid to repeat it endlessly despite what others might say.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Now is the perfect time for you, yes you, to run for public office...

Today's political landscape can be pretty craggy and treacherous.  There's a heightened sense of extreme politics, whether real or imagined, and hyper partisanship that not only adds plenty of hostility, but also creates a very attractive looking "middle ground" which ends up not being as much of a middle ground as it is which side did the best in prettying up their own views.  So you have the craggy hyper partisanship and a very deceptive, but still quite dangerous, "middle ground".

When an average, every day citizen takes a look at this landscape, there's a good chance they'll get disgusted with it and wish they could change it, but ultimately feel like that it's not something they can accomplish.  Perhaps they think they're not polished enough.  They're not good with speaking to people.  They're not smart enough.  Don't have the right education.  They're not a lawyer.  They've never ran for office.  Pretty much, they're not what the politicians they see on TV today.  

But you know what?  That's a good thing.  Why?  Simply put, it's because we do not need more of the same.  See that disgusting political landscape?  Know how it got that way?  It's because we stopped electing people of principle and instead started electing the people that said exactly what we wanted to hear. What has happened?  As King Solomon has said, we should look well into the matter.  What does that mean, exactly?  Simply put, before making any major decisions (such as voting), we should do our homework.  We should look well into the matter.

 And honestly, we have not.  Though while the blame should squarely fall on our shoulders, there are other factors to consider.  For example, the media has been our source for information for just about everything, particularly politics.  Yet, when the media pushes one agenda heavily over another (hint: it's not conservatism) and attempts to pass it off objectively, it makes it more difficult for the average person, so used to relying on the media for their information, to look well into the matter.  It also does not help that our entertainment is so ubiquitously saturated with that same agenda, that it's very easy for someone to succumb to that 1-2 punch.  Basically, when then there's deliberate obfuscation and slanting of what's been regarded as an "objective" source, that means in order to look well into the matter, it takes more than just turning on 60 minutes or basing your opinion solely on one article written in the Huffington Post or Breitbart.  And as a majority, Americans have not.  So because we have not looked well into the matter of our politicians, we've allowed ourselves to  be deceived by smooth talking serpents that are good at telling you what you want to hear.

However, I believe that's turning around.  Whether they know or not, people are crying out to have someone with courage and principle to follow.  They're sick and tired of having the same spineless schmooze weasels continually back down and compromise their supposed beliefs while simultaneously spending most of their energy trying to mitigate the political damage their own spinelessness has wrought.  They tired of people telling them what they want to hear only to turn around and not stand for what they said they did.  They're tired of politicians more worried about securing votes for re-election than they are about doing their job.  People want someone with common sense and down to earth principles.  And I'll have to say, many will probably like someone that isn't a polished, smooth talker.  

If you want an example of this, just look at Ted Cruz.  While there are plenty that dislike this man, particularly Democrats and liberal Republicans, one thing you can say with certainty about him is that he stands on principle.  He's doing exactly what he was elected to do:
  • Stand up to the ever encroaching power of the federal government
  • Stand up for the Constitution
  • Stand up for conservative principles
I've heard plenty of like minded conservatives say: "Now if we can only clone Ted Cruz 30 or so times".  What I say to that is, instead of just wanting more Ted Cruzes, that normal people rise to the electoral challenge.  

If there's any a time for a return to "normalcy", it's when the political landscape is so polar like this.  Now when I say normalcy, I don't mean the politically correct palate of the "moderate" candidate as these types are part of the current problem.  They exploit the heightened sense of hyper partisanship and make themselves look like the voice of reason.  However, all they have are slick words to obfuscate their own personal, non constituent driven agenda which seems to be to just get elected, then do as little as possible to keep getting re-elected.  In other words, these moderates only want the job itself instead of using the job to fulfill a principle driven agenda.

No, the normalcy I'm talking about is the return to the common sense, integrity, and decency that's founded on a firm belief in their own principles.  True believers.  This is what every day folks want: every day folks representing their values in the federal government.  The demand is so visceral that you'll see it arise in forms of PACs and other political bodies just dying to have someone of principle to stand behind.  And you know, when one arises, the people will know.  It's similar to the difference between a real man and a beta male trying to act like a real man.  It's something you can just instinctively tell.  People will know a real candidate when they see it.  Whether they agree with their views is another thing, but they'll at least know.

And where are we going to get real candidates?  The answer is simple:  from anywhere, particularly outside of the Beltway.  From every day people that work hard.  Maybe they're business owners, or doctors, but not necessarily so.  They could be the construction foreman fed up with new regulations.  They could be the office worker seeing his insurance premiums continually rise.  It could be the little old lady seeing her benefits gutted or the retired army veteran sick of watching America go down the tubes.  People that weren't necessarily heavily indoctrinated with far left ideals from a university.  And most importantly, people of God.
What? Religion has no place in politics?!  I beg to differ.  Religion and politics go hand in hand.  If they didn't, why is it those two specific topics that are always considered taboo topics at casual social gatherings? It's because you really can't talk about one without eventually talking about the other.  Politics is an extension of religion (yes, even atheists and agnostics and those silly Christians that scoff at all religion .. they each still have a religion).    And as servants of God, our political views should be based on our biblically founded religious principles.  A servant of God, full of grace, humility, and faith would be a powerful symbol of what it truly means to be a representative in this country.

And while most of our career politicians are highly polished and do their best to hide anything bad, I see a good person who not only is flawed, but isn't afraid to admit their flaws as being someone people can truly relate to.  No one is perfect and it'd be refreshing to have someone that admits to the mistakes of their past and doesn't profess to have all the answers, but knows where they stand on principle.

Don't be fooled into believing you need to be a lawyer or a doctor to get into politics.  Anyone can.  And if there's ever a time we need more down to earth, God loving, folk in Congress and state legislatures, it's now.