Has our government always worked this way?

“American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”

This month, we are witnessing one of the most important rituals of American democracy:  the confirmation hearing of a United States Supreme Court nominee.  This process has evolved over the past few decades, particularly since the failed nomination of Judge Bork.  The contentiousness has reached embarrassing levels.  Like most modern political practices, we continue to battle over nominees much as our forefathers did, but we do it in a way that shows little regard for the character and qualifications of the nominee.

Judge Gorsuch’s comment above shows that he is well aware of how the left wants to tip the balance of power to the courts.  They could not win at the ballot box.  The could not win in Congress.  They could not win the hearts and minds of the public.  The courts are their best option.  This is where they have drawn the red line that they will fight to defend.  Even here though, it appears that they will lose.

Judge Gorsuch warned the left of the dangers of their dependence on the courts. They can chalk up some wins, but they will be short lived if they have not adequately convinced the American public.  In his commentary, Liberals’N’Lawsuits,  Judge Gorsuch said:

“This overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary. In the legislative arena, especially when the country is closely divided, compromises tend to be the rule the day. But when judges rule this or that policy unconstitutional, there’s little room for compromise: One side must win, the other must lose. In constitutional litigation, too, experiments and pilot programs — real-world laboratories in which ideas can be assessed on the results they produce — are not possible. Ideas are tested only in the abstract world of legal briefs and lawyers arguments. As a society, we lose the benefit of the give-and-take of the political process and the flexibility of social experimentation that only the elected branches can provide.”

As broken as our Constitutional Republic seems, it still functions as it was designed.  In the end, many battles may be lost, but we usually get it right.​​​​​​​

The confirmation hearings have devolved into a silly charade.  They are an opportunity for bloated egos to show off how good they are at bullying and playing gotcha games.  Many of those criticizing Gorsuch for decisions that he never made will likely vote for him, unless they cynically believe that a no vote would win them more votes in their next election.  On the other side, it’s doubtful that anything will be found in his background that would cause a Republican to vote against him.  So, in the end, after a month of investigation and a week of hearings, no minds will be persuaded.

Second only to going to war, the choice of a Supreme Court Justice is a President’s most important decision.  The Supreme Court is where partisans, red and blue, get a chance to force their social agenda on the American public.  It’s a misuse of the court, while at the same time, the Court often offers our best opportunity to keep both sides under control.

As broken as we think our justice system is, it soars above the dysfunction of the Legislative and Executive branches.  It doesn’t always work as well as we would hope, but it does work.  It’s an ingenious tool designed by our ingenious Founders.

The Supreme Court works only because so many fight political battles to ensure that it will work.  It is always in danger from those who would subvert it.  It seems that we’ve bought some time in this battle, but we should never become complacent because of short term win.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

​In Liberty,
Ken Mandile
Senior Fellow
Worcester Tea Part

Draining The Swamp

Donald Trump’s campaign promise to “Drain the swamp” has successfully placed him in the Oval Office.  But what exactly is the swamp, and how does one go about draining it?

The commonly accepted definition of the “swamp”, and the one Trump alludes to, is the career, political elite of Washington, D.C., who are in essence tenured legislators.  This career, political class is seen as an entrenched, corrupt, blackguard of the status quo, a semi-permanent legislative body that stands between the people, their rights, and a just government.  I contend that these entrenched politicians are not in fact, THE swamp”; rather they merely reflect the dominant ideas of our culture.  I would argue that these career politicians are merely a surface layer, and the real depth of the swamp lies somewhere else.

The Democrats and Republicans are virtually united in their moral base, that is, the pinnacle of virtue for both parties is altruism, the morality which preaches the sacrifice of the individual self for “others”.  They sometimes differ on which individuals should be sacrificed, and quibble over the level of sacrifice, but they both fundamentally believe in the moral duty of being “thy brother’s keeper”.

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The Power of Our President

Many of America’s school children are returning to school this week, having “celebrated” a week off that included Presidents Day.  Traditionalists will always call it Washington’s Birthday.  He was perhaps the last President that we had who deserved to be celebrated. Presidents Day should be a day where we question the power of the Presidency.

A recent commentary in The Week proclaimed Presidents Day to be the worst holiday.  I have to say that I agree.   “The American presidency is not something to be exalted. It is something that needs to be neutered”, said the author, Bonnie Kristian.  Every four years we spend a couple of billion dollars advertising hyperbolic lies over who should “lead” us.  It’s a process that few think works well and it elevates the office of President to something that it was never meant to be.

Kristian writes:

“President Trump can subpoena journalists’ phone records and call it “national security.” He can prosecute whistleblowers to discourage dissent. He can access mass amounts of warrantless surveillance on ordinary Americans, including triple the telephonic metadata the NSA was able to search before the so-called reforms passed as a result of Edward Snowden’s revelations. He can govern by executive fiat. He can unilaterally expand military intervention without congressional interference or any geographic boundaries. He can indefinitely detain people in Guantanamo Bay and other secret prisons. He can have a “kill list” of drone strike targets, that can include American citizens secretly assassinated without charge or trial. Some of them can even be teenagers neither suspected nor accused of any crime.

Trump can do all this and more — so, so much more — because the presidency he inherited from Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and their predecessors is, in the apt phrase of The Week’s Ryan Cooper, a turnkey tyranny.”

This is not a criticism of President Trump, but rather it is an indictment of the failure of Congress to maintain the balance of powers.

The President should be similar to a Town Manager: they should enforce laws, preserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and nothing else.  The office was meant to be an executive position.  Starting with Teddy Roosevelt, more than 110 years ago, the office has been consolidating power into one person where none should have existed.  What we are left with is power that is much too dangerous for any one person.

Writing at Fee.org last October, Barry Brownstein talked about Hillary Clinton’s “plan” as President.  Brownstein rightfully points out that no President should have a “plan”.  It is Congress that should be the source of legislation, not the Executive Branch.

“So limited were the powers of the president that Charles Pinckney, founding father and signer of the U.S. Constitution, argued against the impeachment clause in the Constitution on the grounds that the president’s powers “would be so circumcised” by the Constitution that presidential abuse would be impossible.

If the president is not to make plans for us, then what? … “Every day, ordinary citizens and entrepreneurs pursue opportunities. No one controls the myriad decentralized decisions and actions that, along the way, solve problems. We don’t need “problem solvers” to tell us the “winning plan.” We need planners and “problem solvers” to stay out of our way.”

Republicans are happy now that they are in power, but one day the fickleness of the voters will turn against them and they will put the Democrats back in power.  For at least the next four years, Republicans can take retribution by using the power of the Presidency to crush their “enemies”.  President Trump has promises to “drain the swamp”.  That involves much more than firing people though.  It means dismantling much of the Executive Branch’s power.

A truly transformational President would not consolidate power, but would demand that Congress take back the power that belongs to the people. Wouldn’t we all be much safer if our next President had no effect on our daily lives?  That is what our founders expected.  It is what we should expect.

In Liberty,
Ken Mandile
Senior Fellow
Worcester Tea Party

The rightful masters of both Congress and the courts

Eight years ago, the Tea Party movement began, supposedly sparked by a ranting CNBC reporter.  Unlike the protests that occurred this month around the inauguration of Donald Trump, those rallies began more than a month into President Obama’s term.  It took until September before the first large rally occupied Washington, D.C.

Times have changed though, and power has shifted.  For many, hopes are flying high.  For others, fear grips them.  I have a hard time understanding those who are frozen by fear of the Trump Presidency, but I do not doubt that their fear is real.  The marches against Trump were planned well before he held any power, yet organizers were able to mobilize millions of protesters across the country.  As a veteran of the Tea Party movement, I say “kudos” to them.  They are doing what Americans should do when they peaceably to assemble, and  petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I think that one thing that has created fear on the left is the decimation that they have suffered at the polls over the past eight years.  They thought that they would be the rightful masters of Congress and the courts indefinitely.  They are not.  The incredible shift from an electorate that elected the most leftist President in our history, to one who promises to undo that President’s legacy, is something for the history books.  The left does have reason to fear a Trump Presidency, not because he is an evil man, but because after 8 years of perverting the Constitution, things are going to change.

I have my doubts about President Trump’s concern for the Constitution.  He never mentions it.  Some of his ideas seem contrary to the limits of the Constitution.  Until the power of the Presidency is rightfully diminished, we’ll have to cling to the hope that he is serious about shrinking the power of Washington, D.C.  He’s gone outside the box in his cabinet appointments.  The coastal elites are apoplectic about some of these appointments, but their fossilized idea of government has been rejected by the American voters.  This is the biggest hope for the Trump Presidency, that it is a transformational era, where new ideas are allowed to flourish, while the stagnant failed model of the New Deal, Progressivism, and “wars” on everything are once and for all declared dead.

We will forever have leaders who seek to pervert the Constitution.  Regardless of who is living in the White House, vigilance is a virtue always required of the patriot.  The task of the Tea Party is no lighter than when Barack Obama was President.  When we started this movement, I said that this is a decades long task.  Our problem is not with the leaders who pervert the Constitution, but with the voters who elect them.  These are the minds that we must win over.  This is your task.  Instead of badmouthing the left, we should talk about the power of the model that our founders gifted to us.  By creating more lovers of the Constitution, we can ensure that the road to real liberty is always open.

In Liberty,

Ken Mandile

Senior Fellow

Worcester Tea Party

It is less about Resolutions, and more about being Resolute in 2017

Welcome to Harvard everybody!!After the election, I spoke with a person from the other side of the aisle who asked what I would be doing now that the Tea Party’s mission was over.  He was under the impression, probably gathered from fake news stories, that the Tea Party’s mission was just to oppose Barack Obama.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  

The Tea Party Movement is a grass roots response to the corruption, and incompetence, we have seen at every level of government.  The Worcester Tea Party is an incorporated non-profit dedicated to education focusing on economics and politics.  As an educational organization, those that accepted a leadership roles are given the title of Deans.  The treasurer of our organization is our Bursar.  Previous leaders of our organization that have retired from most active duties are Senior Fellows.  The guidance and counsel of our Senior Fellows is very important to our organization.  I have the honor of being the President of the Worcester Tea Party.  The President is the spokes person and evangelist for the group and I help out in any other way I can.

Our Deans are self starters with a commitment to our core principles of Individual Liberty, Limited Government and Fiscal Responsibility.  Deans pursue different projects with the understanding that the goals of our organization are fixed, but the methods that we attempt will change over time.  We have Deans focused on Twitter account, a Facebook page and we are pod-casting with Spreaker.  We also have a YouTube channel a Pinterest account and a WordPress website which are doing well but could be improved if volunteers were committed to them.  There are no limits to the opportunities for volunteers.  

The true strength of the Worcester Tea Party is our members.  It is our members that hold the signs at protests.  It is our members that ask questions of scurrilous politicians.  Our members provide t the donations that pay all the Worcester Tea Partys bills.  2016 has been a year where we have endured painful losses and enjoyed surprising victories.  Through 2016 many of our members have stepped into new roles and have advanced our organization.  It is our members that do all the hard work of citizenship that our group is famous for.  

With a new president in Washington, change is inevitable but our core mission will not change.  The core mission of the Worcester Tea Party is to educate voters about the importance of sound fiscal policy and limited government. This mission has not changed with the changing of an Administration in Washington.  Our faith in the principles of our nation’s founding and our commitment to the truth will not change.  2017 will surely present the Worcester Tea Party with new opportunities as well as new challenges.  I am confident that we will meet these challenges and take advantage of these opportunities as we’ve done for all the years that the Worcester Tea Party has existed in the beating red heart of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  May 2017 bless us with prosperity and peace and I hope to see you at our next Free Education Event

In Liberty,
Matt O’Brien
President
Worcester Tea Party

 

Just Voting is Not Enough

As a Cub Scout Den Leader and Boy Scout Merit Badge Counselor I’ve taught young people that voting is a right and a duty.  Citizenship and age determine our right to vote.  This right differs from other rights though, in that it also demands duty.  Like jury duty, if enough people refuse to participate, the system fails.  It is a necessary component in the functioning of all democracies and, in particular,  our democratic republic.  We are taught from a young age that good citizens vote, but does voting make you a good citizen?

I can make a good case for not voting (“Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it.”), but there’s a larger message in Thoreau’s words, a call to action: “A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.”  He is saying that voting alone is not enough.  It never has been, never will be, never can be.

“There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.”  Leaving to chance that your principles will be represented by any person other than yourself is an absurd notion.  Even if your candidate were guaranteed to win, you often don’t even have a candidate to choose from that represents your side on many issues.

It’s very likely that your ideas will lose, so why would you just vote and not take another positive action to defend your political beliefs for another four years?  No, voting is hardly even the minimum requirement for good citizenship.  A good citizen must get up on Wednesday, November 9 and continue to be involved in the politics of their community.

What does it mean to be a good citizen, to be involved in the politics of the community?  There’s no one universal answer for all people.  For some, it means educating young people, either their own or others.  It could mean participating in your neighborhood, your church, your school.  It could be getting up and running for office or serving on a local board.  It could mean being a great mom or dad.  It could mean getting involved with the Worcester Tea Party and our efforts to educate citizens.  We remain committed to promoting the ideals of the Tea Party movement, limited government, free markets, and fiscal responsibility. We can always use more help.

Are any of these alone enough to make you a “good citizen”?

Probably not. Thoreau called for civil disobedience, advocating that people must do what they feel is morally correct, even if it violates the law.  He went to jail because he would not pay taxes that supported the Mexican War.  Do any of us have the courage to go to jail for our beliefs?  There are a few who do, but most of us struggle to find other ways to be good citizens.  The point of his essay was that voting must not lead to complacency.  We need to act.

Many of us are probably fatigued from the stress and emotion of the Presidential campaign.  Perhaps you’ll want to rest on November 9th, but when you are ready, choose your weapon and your battle.  Get back out there and do the work of good citizens.

Vote, then act!
In Liberty,
Ken Mandile
Senior Fellow
Worcester Tea Party

When bad men combine, the good must associate

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I have to admit, as much as I dislike Senator Elizabeth Warren’s politics, I enjoyed her grilling of Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf.  It appears that the bank put extreme pressure on employees to use questionable policies to meet sales goals.  First, over 5,000 lower level employees were fired, as if the buck stopped with them.   Then, one of the major players got booted, but was given $100 million on the way out the door.  All John Stumpf got was a grilling by Senator Warren.

There was something distasteful about the Senator’s berating of Mr. Stumpf though. She is just one of a long line of lawmakers who have used their committee seats as sanctimonious soapboxes. It wasn’t until I read a commentary from FEE (Foundation for Economic Education) that I realized how hypocritical Senator Warren’s moral outrage was.  (Note, Senator Warren was a TARP administrator when Mr. Stumpf was given a $25 million bonus after the 2008 financial meltdown.)

“Though Warren may “speak truth to power” to Wall Street, she often turns mute on some of the worst abuses of government.  Like most statists, she sees the speck in her brother’s private eye while failing to see the beam in her own public eye.  A whole manner of sins, it seems, are forgiven once one is “serving the public” in government.”

Senator Warren has no monopoly on hypocrisy in Washington though.  From far right to far left, those who have the inclination toward power are, for the most part, always willing to sacrifice consistency, logic, ethics, and fairness to kick an opponent or to protect their power.  It is inherent in the nature of politics.

Supporters of Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz have expressed their dismay at the apparent compromise of their candidates’ principles.  Congressmen regularly trade favors with their adversaries in hopes of claiming a political win.  Campaign promises are quickly forgotten on the second Wednesday of November.  Can you name a single national level politician that hasn’t lied to us?

Are these people somehow less principled than the average citizen?  Have they lost their ethical compass?  Are they the evil power mongers that we (myself included) make them out to be?  Some (many!) are, but most are just ordinary people with extraordinary egos.  Let’s not lose sight of that fact by putting them on undeserved pedestals.

At the same time, realize that someone needs to do the dirty work of politics.  Our friends and family who join campaigns of imperfect politicians are doing important work.  Some of us may find it distasteful, but without allies working on the inside, there is little hope of winning important ideological battles later.

Edmund Burke said “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” more than 200 years ago, yet the nature of bad men and the need for the good to work together remains unchanged.

Fight for liberty in whatever way moves you, and have respect for those allies who choose different weapons and tactics.  We’ll never agree on what tactics are best, but we must learn to work together for common goals.  Let us always remember who the real enemies of liberty are.

In Liberty,
Ken Mandile

The most useful of modern discoveries

When you think about the events in human history that have transformed the very fabric of society and have spurred on the evolutionary, technological progression of the world we tend to think in terms of tangible items like vaccines, electricity, automobiles, telephones, etc. Asked to think deeper we might mention nuclear power, landing on the moon or cracking the human genome. But if we go deeper, think not of something tangible in the immediate, nor a monumental historical event we find that the most fundamental, life altering (for the world), all encompassing discovery and utilitarian event in modern human history was the discovery and development of oil.
Mechanization made the work day easier, shorter, cooler, warmer, safer. Travel became quicker, safer. Food became less contaminated and could be shipped across Continents. Today, a wounded soldier in Afghanistan (however seriously) can be airlifted and in ICU within a few hours. Each, and every step of the way, because of the development of oil.
Third World, abjectly impoverished nations are the worst hit whenever a climate related disaster takes place. Western economies can handle such things because of our use of oil. It is not the use oil (causing Climate Change) that creates death and destruction in such areas it is the lack there of. A drought in Ethiopia kills millions. A drought in California means grapes cost a dollar more. A flood in Sir-Lanka creates a refugee crisis. A flood in Ohio and Serve-Pro arrives.. Like it never even happened.
The benefit of oil is there for us all to see. The risk is also there for us all to see. But the former outweighs the latter and we can mitigate those risks. Conversely, abandoning our use of oil is unproven, problematic, un-foreseen, un-knowable and fraught with risk. Risks we neither know how to mitigate if we can at all.
Oil is in every facet of our lives so much so we cannot fathom it, yet enjoy it’s abundance. Oil removed from every facet of our lives is abundantly un-fathomable.
In Liberty,
Christopher Maider
M&P Conservative Media Network CEO
Worcester Tea Party Dean of Journalism

America has a 240th Birthday and we get the gifts

The Constitution of the United States of America, the longest lasting written constitution in world history – is a document written over 200 years ago, during the time of many competing philosophies of which Rational (based on facts or reason) and Empirical (by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic) are but two. Well-reasoned and intelligently thought out, it is a document for the ages with goals that are fairly simple and straightforward.
Row of USA Flags 2 (2)
The time of Rationalism (also known as ‘The Enlightenment’) gave us scientific and political revolutions and changed the world, hurtling us into Modernism; it was during this time that our Constitution was born. Based on what was happening in many nations in Europe, our Founders were determined to create a better government, designed to “secure the ‘blessings of Liberty’ to ourselves and our Posterity.” In the Declaration of Independence, the Founders stated:
“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.”

Based on the failures of government by Oligarchy, Monarchy, or other Authoritarian Rulers at that time, and to prevent a Tyrannical Government, the Founding Fathers, fearing tyranny in every form, created in the Constitution a 3-pronged approach to keeping Freedom and Liberty: the Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, and Federalism so that Tyranny could not be easily established.

Our Constitution is a Gift from those who came before and is our only protection from those who wish to impose their Tyranny upon us; we must work to make sure it is properly upheld from within, or face the dire consequences. If you are not already involved in ensuring Liberty within the United States, please join with us in doing so and to protect the government ‘of the people.’

In Liberty,
Marla Stone
Dean of Letters
Worcester Tea Party
Moses-Our Original Founding Father

Moses-Our Original Founding Father

This year, the Jewish Passover falls at the end of April (4/20-4/30).  Passover traditionally begins with a Seder, a ritual meal full of symbolism and the retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. This is the story told in The Book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible (what many Christians refer to as the Old Testament).

mosesSince the original story of Exodus, the same story has been lived out many times, by many people, in many lands. People seeking freedom from tyranny have suffered hardship and death over and over again, even to this day. Just like the Israelites of 3,000 years ago, refugees from the war scarred 20th century sought liberation. Today, we see the suffering of Iraqis and Syrians fleeing ISIS and Assad. We see refugees from war and terrorism seeking a better future for their families. Three thousand years after Moses, the thirst for freedom and safety remains unquenched

Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams proposed that Moses be on the Seal of the United States.  They considered him to be our real Founding Father. A quote from Moses appears on the Liberty Bell. The Pilgrims considered their story to be similar to the story in Exodus. Harriet Tubman, who just this month was chosen to appear on the $20 bill, was called “The Moses of Her People”.

Many of the “plagues” of today are easy to show on the evening news. It’s very graphic and heart breaking to see women and children driven from their homes. There are other plagues which are not so easy to visualize. For these plagues, we don’t see blood being spilled or bombs dropping or children being beheaded. They are no less of a threat to freedom. These plagues are propagated in legislatures and voting booths; in campaign headquarters and courtrooms; in newsrooms and college lecture halls. These are the places from which come the threats to freedom in much of the world.

Perhaps we could wish for boils and frogs and locusts to descend on Washington, D.C. to convince our modern day tyrants to set us free, but I’m afraid that part of the Exodus story won’t be repeated. Moses isn’t coming to help us this time. There is no Moses running for President this year, although Bernie Sanders may have been around for the Exodus.

The Jewish tradition of retelling the story of their liberation from slavery gives them an opportunity to give thanks for their liberation and to remember their suffering. We all should remember the bitterness of oppression and seek to eliminate it. It may take another 3,000 years, but it is our responsibility to carry on the legacy of those who worked for liberty before us and for those who will follow us.

Jews conclude the Seder with a hope for their Messiah “L’shanah haba’ah b’Yerushalayim hab’nuyah!”- “Next year in the rebuilt Jerusalem!” It’s in recognition of an imperfect world, but a world in which next year may bring them closer to spiritual perfection. We do live in an imperfect world, yet this is the best time in the history of mankind to be alive. With your help, I know that the future will be better and freer. We don’t need Moses to continue the struggle for freedom that has been fought through the millennia. That struggle has been left to us.