The essence of America is freedom, on this most Americans do agree. The way that this freedom is preserved, however, is the crux of most political debates in our country. The Tea Party movement is no exception, as there are effectively two competing Tea Party philosophies that are starkly different. The first version, which drove the grassroots movement that stormed in nation in 2009 and 2010, has a consistent philosophy of social and fiscal conservatism. This position is, effectively, the combination of policy espoused by America’s founders. The second espouses a libertarian fiscal-only conservatism, which does not provide for the social foundations of freedom. This philosophy is closer to what was espoused by French Revolutionaries than our founding fathers.
Any serious student of history can tell you that the difference in outcomes between the American and French Revolutions is like comparing night and day. America threw-off the oppressive chains of an overreaching monarchial power, and replaced it with a Republic of the people. The French merely threw-off the abuses of King Louis XVI to replace them with the oppression of Emperor Napoleon I. Obviously, America’s formula led to liberty, while the French recipe wasn’t so much a success.
Why? The answer is obvious to a careful surveyor of the facts: America’s Revolution was based on the belief that rights of man come from God, while the French believed that the rights of man come from man, which is the essence of humanism. Thus, while America constructed a constitution that considered the fallen nature of man, the first post-revolutionary French constitution (they’ve had 14 since then) treated man as perfectible. As a result, the American Constitution is structured to govern both the nation and its government, which ensures that the God given rights of all are protected. The French Constitution didn’t base the rights of man on anything more than the whims of the majority, which ensured that no rights were ever absolute.
Though the American and French revolutionaries desired to be free, only the Americans succeeded in securing liberty. Likewise, while both elements of the modern Tea Party desire freedom, only one philosophy can truly succeed in preserving liberty under law. The element of the Tea Party that embraces both fiscal and social conservatism has the creed that can go the distance. The element, namely the Ron Paul element, which embraces only fiscal conservatism, will never succeed in addressing the size and scope of government. That’s because one cannot address the size and scope of government without first addressing the underlying social ills that face America, which drive up debt while growing government.
Take, for example, the issues we’ve discussed recently on “Common Cents.” The economy of our state and nation is jeopardized because of the fall-out from failed families. As children increasingly are relegated to single parent childhood, while moms and dads change marriage partners like some people change jobs, government gets a stronger foothold in the lives of free Americans. Thus, to keep government in check, and to stop it from growing to choke out freedom, we must pursue pro-family policies that enable America to pursue a pro-growth economic agenda. In this way, the liberty of the American people will be preserved by a balanced pursuit of pro-freedom philosophies.
It is a tale of two Tea Parties, and only one has the accuracy to go the distance.