Liberty endangered by the abuse of power

“Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty,
but also by the abuse of power.”

— James Madison 

As I write a few days before you are reading this, I’m having trouble keeping up with the number of politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and reputable journalists that are being brought down for their repulsive behavior.  The sexual harassment claims against men who hold power, whether in politics or in the workplace or in the newsroom, seems to have exploded since  Harvey Weinstein was exposed as the monster that he is.  While none of this is really shocking, what is surprising is the speed at which they are falling.  It is a stunning toppling of powerful men who have abused their positions for many years.

There are a few lessons that we can learn from this wide-encompassing scandal.

1)  There is no limit to the number of hypocrites in the halls of Congress and in Hollywood and in the newsroom.

2)  There are many women who have suffered from abuse, harassment, or even rape, who were frightened into silence by a society that too often made excuses for the powerful. Too many excused this behavior by thinking that “boys will be boys”.  This is a different time though and we are better for it.  Never again should the Bill Clintons and Ted Kennedys of this world be given a pass.

3)  American love sex scandals, even when they involve victims who have been severely harmed.

4)  We love to defend those on our side when the scandals involve “their guy”.  Whether to believe the accuser or the accused too often depends on their politics.

5)  The court of public opinion can often deliver justice that is swift and effective and just when the courts of justice fail us.

These men who are being brought down have been proven to be weak, immoral characters.  So why did so many idolize them before these scandals?   Why are people so willing to allow these kinds of people to lead them or have influence over them?   If anything, we should learn that just because someone is powerful or wealthy or famous, they are no better than the average citizen.  In fact, I would posit that they likely gained their positions because of the faults, not despite them.    They are addicted to power and they used this power for sexual conquests and violence.  When these men have been flushed out, America will be a better country, intolerant of those who abuse the vulnerable.

We should always question the ethics of those who seek power.  A more effective way to protect the vulnerable than this is to seek ways to limit the power and authority of those who lust for it.  A flawed person with no power is of no consequence to us.

I know that many people are reveling in the schadenfreude that comes from seeing the powerful fall.  In the midst of this glee, let’s not forget their victims, women who have suffered alone, often for many years.  They are victims of evil men who abused power.   Let us all be ever vigilant and ready to knock those who abuse power and position from their pedestals.

​In Liberty,
Ken Mandile
Senior Fellow
Worcester Tea Party

“Facts are stubborn things”

“Facts are stubborn things;
and whatever may be our wishes,
our inclinations, or
the dictates of our passions,
they cannot alter the
state of facts and evidence”

John Adams 1770 Trial for the British soldiers
involved in the Boston Massacre.

The election of Donald Trump as president has had a terrifying effect on many of our fellow Americans.  One has to look no further than the plans that are being made to have a Protest Scream on Boston Common on the anniversary of Trump’s election and this summer 40,000 of our fellow citizens marched in a “Stand Up to Nazis” event, of course no Nazis were there.

This is the state of politics in our Republic in 2017.  The politics of self-destruction and negative campaigns that have gone on for decades, seeming only to get more vicious and more personal as well as less issue-oriented and less principled every day.  This has turned off a solid majority of Americans from being involved in politics and their government.  Those that are involved are blinded by partisan zeal.  They seem more interested in scoring political points than in effectively crafting policy that serves our Republic.

Such facts could make one cynical about the future of our Republic.  Happily there are other facts that can’t be ignored, hidden or forgotten.

America is built on big dreams, small dreams, and impossible dreams.  Those dreams became facts.  America is the place that people from all over the world come to dream big.  Without dreams not only America, but most of modern society would be impossible.  Without dreams there’d be no airplanes, no satellites, no cell phones, no computers, no movies, no music; what a blighted world this would be if we allowed our dreams to be overcome by our cynicism.

The WTP is made of equal parts dream and cynicism.  We believe that our current political leaders have lost faith with the Dream that America is founded on.  And we still believe in that Dream.  All that we do together is to turn that Dream in to a fact.  The work of the WTP is by necessity profoundly hopeful.

That is not to say that our work is easy.

I am confident that working together we will face all the challenges and overcome every obstacle.  But this cannot happen without you.  The WTP needs you to volunteer your time.  The WTP depends on your donations to support our effort.  Follow the PayPal link and give what you can.

Thank you for all you do in the cause of Liberty.

​In Liberty,
Matt O’Brien
President
Worcester Tea Party

No right to absolute arbitrary power!

In the fall of 1772, Massachusetts House of Representatives member Samuel Adams began to stir up some trouble in Boston.  The legislature had traditionally paid the salaries of the Governor and of judges, but the British decided that they would pay these officials directly.  This removed an important check on power, diminishing the power of the colony’s elected representatives.  Adams had had enough of dirty British political tricks.  It was time for action.

In November, he formed the Committees of Correspondence, effectively forming a shadow government that was not accountable to the crown.  Adams’ document forming the Committees of Correspondence consisted of three parts:

“First, a State of the Rights of the Colonists and of this Province in particular–

Secondly, A List of the Infringements, and Violations of those Rights.–

Thirdly, A Letter of Correspondence with the other Towns.-“

In many ways, it was a precursor to the Declaration of Independence that would follow less than four years later.   Samuel Adams’ declaration of rights goes further than our other founding documents.  He felt that no citizen could voluntarily cede their rights.  These were gifts from God.:

“If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation; the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave.”

Can we look at today’s federal government and believe anything less than that we have alienated this gift?  While we fight over football players and statues and fake news, others fight to cede their gifts (and ours) to a bloated power in Washington.

Eight years ago this month, tens of thousands of Tea Partiers marched on Washington in the 912 March, demanding an end to the bloat.  Looking back, it seems that much of our effort was futile.  We can look at Washington today and we see little effective effort in Congress to deflate the bubble of bureaucracy.  Yet, many of us still fight on.  The fight is a lot more lonely today, but no less important.  Are we going to cede the gift of liberty through inaction and apathy?   We may not gather again in enormous crowds, but we can fight on alone, in our neighborhoods, and in our towns.  This was where Sam Adams brought the battle.  And, it is there that he helped spark the brush fires of liberty that we celebrate today.

 

​In Liberty,
Ken Mandile
Senior Fellow
Worcester Tea Party

Be Civilized Grudges are for Neanderthals

It is with great hesitancy that I wade into the quagmire of this month’s events in Charlottesville and Boston.  Uncontrolled and irrational emotions on both sides seem to have wiped out any chance of civilized conversation about Charlottesville, President Trump, Antifa, White Supremacy, Confederate statues, and other issues that have gripped the news and social media.

 

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Land of Freedom of Speech?

You’ve probably heard this quote or have seen it floating around the internet:

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Supposedly Lincoln said it, then it was Reagan who said it. Consensus says it is a gross distortion of one of Lincoln’s speeches, but it makes no difference. The words ring true no matter who said them.

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How beauteous mankind is!

 

O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is!
O brave new world,
That has such people in’t.
— William Shakespeare, The Tempest

I’ve just finished reading Brave New World (when I say “reading’, I really mean listening to on Audible).  Written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley, Brave New World was one of the first dystopian novels, a genre that has gain much popularity in the 21st century, and for good reason.

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Don’t Always Believe What You Think

“The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”

Winston S. Churchill

A few years ago, I saw a bumper sticker that said something that stuck in my mind firmer than the sticker was attached to the bumper.  It said ‘Don’t Always Believe What You Think’.  Philosophers call this concept “Intellectual Humility”.   This type of humility acknowledges the limitations of our knowledge.  It calls on us to challenge our own beliefs and, in doing so, places the surviving beliefs on firmer ground.

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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.

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