Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sharron Angle & the Right to be Armed

Tibor R. Machan

It is not an unfamiliar ploy--if you have no arguments, try to ridicule or just be snide, belittle your adversary. This is what has been going on with the messages sent by the Tea Party.

I follow write ups in The New Republic and elsewhere and to this date I have found no arguments advanced against what the Tea Party is saying--for example, that the United States federal government has an impermissibly wide scope; that the government’s debt is a huge burden on future generations which cannot even vote on what they are getting into; that the Second Amendment was included in the U. S. Constitution in part so as to enable citizens to resist tyranny should it come to their having to do so; that coercing people to buy anything, health insurance of sandals, is unconstitutional and certainly immoral; that forcing citizens to pay for policies such as federally funded abortions which they object to as a matter of their religious convictions is also abhorrent, etc., etc. All these snooty people seem to be able to do nothing more about their dislike of the Tea Party is to assassinate the character of the membership and leadership.

I am no great fan of the Tea Party’s style, fancying myself to be more cosmopolitan than nearly all those I associate with it, yet that is irrelevant when it comes to considering political alternatives. We aren’t talking fashion or erudition here but public policy and last I checked members of the Tea Party, like I and most everyone I know in this country, are a significant portion of the public.

Even if you are an unprincipled politician or merely a cheerleader of your candidates and representatives, you must at least pay attention to the fact that Tea Party members are part of the democratic electorate. So in this substantially democratic polity they are entitled to be included in the discussion of the issues even if their message strikes all the sophisticated, snooty bunch at The New York Review of Books and the The New York Times as way off base.

It is interesting to me how morally righteous these people can be when it comes to racial or gender prejudice but how little they care about dismissing a very sizable segment of the American public such as those who are part of the Tea Party. Don’t they even sense how hypocritical it is for them to champion “the people” but then drop almost half of those people from the ranks of those who should matter politically, whose input must be taken seriously? I guess not!

A good case in point is the flack Sharron Angle of Nevada has received for reminding us all that the Second Amendment to the U. S. Constitution had something to do with empowering citizens to resist tyranny, should their government go completely corrupt. As she said on a talk show, “You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact Thomas Jefferson said it's good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years.” Never mind the pedigree--The Washington Post and a host of other “liberal” media and politicians tried to discredit the lady for saying what is quite true and not at all weird, except if you think like compliant government subjects across the globe.

Yes, the idea is an utterly respectable one, put forth by the likes of English political philosophers Thomas Hobbes and John Locke and it even makes an appearance in the Declaration of Independence. As the document puts it, “But when a long train 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.” Although in terms deployed by nearly all the people across the globe the American federal government may appear to be but a pussycat, in terms of the American political tradition today’s American government is very nearly despotic. (What else would one consider its brutal prosecution of the war on drugs, for example?)

But never mind, perhaps Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle of Nevada is misguided to think that mentioning this feature of the Second Amendment is relevant today. So then argue it out and do not treat it as if it were the ravings of a lunatic. Cannot the Tea Party opponents mount a good case against the idea instead of pretending it is nonsense? Perhaps not, so they must resort to ridicule and belittlement.

That, in turn, should inform the rest of the electorate just how impoverished are the views of those who wish to hold on to the status quo, who want the federal government to continue moving in the direction typified by Obamacare, massive government bailouts, and the war on drugs! If so, then I say all the more reason to get in line with the Tea Party and “throw off such government”!

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