Liberty Blog

Why Civil Liberties Should Matter to the Tea Party

Posted in Uncategorized by Phil Russo on May 16, 2010

There is a very important and interesting conversation taking place amongst tea party groups right now. It can sometimes be uncomfortable and awkward but we, as tea partiers, are not afraid to tackle big issues. The conversation going on is about civil liberties and how important they are since the creation of the Constitution.
When I wrote about the Times Square bomber and how his rights should have been read to him, I expected to be blasted by my fellow tea partiers but I wasn’t. Most people agreed that Senator McCain was wrong. I have also heard others talking about the Obama decision to assassinate American citizens and how unconstitutional it is. Finally, the talk about denying people on the terrorist watch list their second amendment rights even though they have not been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime. The progress being made on the right with respect to civil liberties is very encouraging.
Other tea partiers ask me how we can reach out to younger people like me and I have been telling them that many younger people are with us on economics; it is when we get to civil liberties that they look at the GOP and they see big government, Big Brother, unconstitutional hypocrites. One of the reasons Ron Paul’s following was so young was for this exact reason. Young people don’t want higher taxes or bigger government. They believe in free markets. What they don’t want are things like a national ID card, no matter how many times Republicans say it is needed to “fight terrorism”. Young people don’t want to give up their constitutional rights, period. I am with Patrick Henry, “I know not what course others may choose but as for me, give me liberty or give me death”! A lot of people my age, who would vote Republican on economic issues, look at the constitution and don’t see anything about gay marriage. They see no power granted to Congress to create a Federal Reserve Bank. They see no power is Article 1 section 8 giving congress the power to regulate marriage. Similarly, they see no power in Article 1 section 8 giving Congress the power to prohibit pot smoking.
There is a thick libertarian streak in the under 30 crowd and especially in the under 20 crowd. If we tell them that freedom means the government staying out of the economy they think that the government should stay out of their homes, personal lives, and bedrooms. They also think that the bill of rights should apply to every American citizen regardless of the charges against them. This should make sense even to my post-40 tea party friends. If we allow the government to assassinate an American citizen overseas the next step will be assassinating American citizens on our own soil. If we allow the government to ‘eliminate’ American citizens accused of “terrorism” the next step is allowing them to assassinate anyone accused of being a “threat to national security”. Imagine if Obama had decided to murder the members of the “Christian” militia that was busted a few
months back. They were “terrorists”, they were going to use a bomb to kill a police officer and then set of more bombs along the funeral route. That’s a tactic straight out of Osama’s playbook. Should these men be held without charge in Gitmo and tried before a military tribunal?
I don’t speak for all young people but I do talk politics with a lot of them. There are few neo-cons that are under 30, less under 20, and they think that if you have brown skin and the government (that they claim to distrust so much) deems you are a terrorist, it is ok to suspend your constitutional rights for “national security”. I find this particularly ironic since these neo-cons claim to hate socialism and collectivism so much but then they preach about the “greater good” which is textbook socialism talk. Giving up our constitutional rights in the interest of security is no different from the commies that used to say “better Red than dead”. If we really want to reach the younger crowd we should continue this conversation about civil liberties and we should not shy away from it because it makes us uncomfortable.
When I think of my favorite Founding Fathers I see those men more in Ron Paul, and Barry Goldwater than I do in George W Bush, or John McCain. If we present young people with a consistent message of economic and personal liberty and if we elect people who follow the constitution and repeal the tens of thousands of pages of laws that are unconstitutional we need to convert young people into capitalists, will make the choice themselves, naturally.

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