“In 1776 [the Gadsten flag] served warning to those who threatened America from abroad. Today, it’s being waved in contempt of our own honestly elected American government in Washington.”
So ranted MSNBC’s Chris Matthews against what he calls “the rise of the New Right” – the Tea Party Movement.
Chris Matthews fears violence from the Tea Party. Tea Partyers vent they’re rage in peaceful demonstrations but use fiery rhetoric that can inflame its members. The Left is flummoxed. The Tea Party is angry against a government that was duly elected. Horrors!! Elections are the Left’s magic wand, after all. In a democracy, which America never was intended to be, any action by elected officials is justified by the will of the people as expressed through the counting of ballots. Elected politicians wielding coercive powers never constitutionally granted to the government sit in a chamber and pass legislation that shreds the only protection the people have against an omnipotent government, democratically elected or otherwise – individual rights.
They have some ominous company. On the Left’s own premise of the omnipotence of elected officials, Hugo Chavez is shutting down press freedom in Venezuela as he establishes yet another socialist hellhole, and Adolf Hitler slaughtered 6 million Jews. Chavez and Hitler were elected, right? Oh, but Hitler was “violent”, which is somehow different from elected officials politely abusing the legal force of law. “An honestly elected government” can justify the non-violent, legalized enslavement of the medical profession under ObamaCare, so long as there is no “violence” involved. There is a concrete difference, but the difference is not fundamental.
Matthews apparently believes that an “honestly elected government” need not respect our own Declaration of Independence, which separated the colonies from that foreign power. That Declaration states unequivocally:
“That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Our American system was designed as a constitutionally limited republic, not a democracy. It was limited to the protection of individual rights, not the momentary whims of any electoral constituency as represented by the politicians they elect. In our American Republic, the individual’s rights are protected first, and the electoral process is narrowly limited and has no power to alienate those basic rights of anyone. Democratic principles are an important part of a republic, but they are not the bedrock principles that govern it. Those principles are grounded in the moral doctrine of individual rights. There is a very good reason for why the Founders set up our governing system as they did. They recognized the unique dangers that government inherently poses. “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master”, warned George Washington. They sought to constrain that institution of force.
Force is force, and there is fundamentally no difference between its violent and non-violent exercise. Violence is nothing more than a manifestation of force. Writes Amit Ghate:
"Yes it is proper to condemn the initiators of violence. In fact it is morally mandatory because such action represents a tremendous evil. But violence is wrong precisely because it is a species of force. For the left to oppose open violence while promoting every other form of force is more than hypocritical — it’s an unconscionable intellectual crime.
"Whatever its form or specific target, force is evil because it impedes or defeats man’s use of his mind and its products."
Matthews and his Left Wing ilk blow a smokescreen consisting of potential Tea Party force in the form of violence, to hide the much more sinister and destructive actual, legalized force of the Obama government. The difference is monumental. In a republic, we are protected from violent force by government through its laws, police, and prosecutors who arrest and jail the violent offenders, and we are protected from government force by a constitution. But today - our republic having been morphed into a democracy, and our constitution increasingly rendered irrelevant by the “living constitution” doctrine - we are no longer protected from force-wielding powerlusters in a runaway government. We are, in fact, legally disarmed in the face of Obama statism– left without any protection from the government thugs.
Matthews fears Tea Party violence but sanctions the camouflaged violence of robbery and enslavement perpetrated by an elected government under cover of the law. We are approaching the state of affairs of pre-Revolutionary War England, or the world of Atlas Shrugged, when “society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law--men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims [and] laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you.” (page 413)
The Left holds up a straw man, purporting to be worried that some fringe Tea Partyer might perpetrate an isolated act of violence, even as this government wields massive force against its own citizenry. Central planning bureaucrats are gaining massive physical power over our lives, from healthcare to energy to education to finance to food and on and on.
Yet Matthews pillories the Tea Party for daring to resist this power grab by upholding this country’s Founding ideals! He sees in the words “Don’t Tread on Me” a threat of violent rebellion against an elected government, ignoring the essentially anti-American, authoritarian nature of democracy. He separates the original Tea Party from the current one, by citing a difference between foreign and domestic threats to liberty. He forgets that our own Declaration of Independence does not distinguish one from the other:
“That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”
“Whenever any form of government becomes destructive…”, declared our Founding Fathers. Notice that the Founders didn’t advocate or rule out any particular method by which “the people” may alter, abolish or institute new government. They just reserved the right of the people to do it, and urged prudence. Mathews' fantasies to the contrary notwithstanding, the Tea Party Movement has been nothing if not “prudent”, demanding change not a “toppling”, seeking to right “a long train of abuses and usurpations” peacefully through persuasion and elections rather than violence. It seeks to rein government back within its constitutional restraints from which it burst – to reverse a statist trend that is accelerating but did not originate with his beloved Obama Administration. Tea Partyers seek to overturn “a design to reduce them under absolute despotism.”
Matthews sees threats of violence where no meaningful ones exist, in order to divert attention away from the growing Washington tyranny that he promotes, aids, and abets. He wants to expose an alleged danger to society posed by the new Tea Party rebellion. Yet, by protecting the force-wielding Washington catalyst for the Tea Party, he is helping to push this country toward the day when we cross the line into actual dictatorship, leaving violent overthrow the only means left to a once free people to exercise "their right [and] their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security."
The Left statists hide their brute force policy agenda behind the ballot box like a mob hit man hides his weapons behind a trench coat. And like the mobster, they seek to silence dissent through intimidation and smears. But they must be getting nervous, indeed, even though the Tea Party Movement is still only a fledgling scattering of mixed premises and competing factions.
Matthews and I are in agreement about at least one thing, however. The Gadsden Flag is an appropriate symbol of the Tea Party Movement. Those words represent a threat, all right, but not in the way he means. Don’t Tread on Me are the words today’s Washington can not bear to hear. It’s hard to control the man who stands up for his right to live free.