Tea Party ethos about individual freedom

First of a three-part series

For today's monolithically liberal Democratic Party, every solution to every perceived problem involves more government: more spending of borrowed money to fund new programs — top-down dictates from new laws enforced by new bureaucrats who are presumed to care more, and most important, know better what you need.

That's not how Tea Partiers roll.

And that's not how most Americans roll, either. Would anyone voluntarily bail out strangers living thousands of miles away who lied on their applications to buy a home? Of course not. It's a stupid idea that rewards bad behavior. “You Can't Fix Stupid, But You Can Vote It Out of Office,” reads a popular Tea Party protest sign. Consumers in free markets uncorrupted by regulatory favoritism vote untold millions of times a day, punishing irrational behavior, bad actors, and liar loans with equal and swift justice.

Government, on the other hand, socializes bad behavior, taking from the responsible and giving to the irresponsible.

Americans are special because our founding was conceived in liberty. It was in the genes of the Sons of Liberty who risked their lives, fortunes and sacred honor for an idea. That genetic code makes our family, our community and our country unique in all the world. Dick remembers a conversation with a friend who had emigrated from Ethiopia and was so proud that he had just completed his naturalization requirements for U.S. citizenship.

He couldn't stop talking about it. He spoke about the U.S. Constitution, about the Founders and about freedom. As proud as he was of his heritage, he was a different man: He was an American.

Liberals now in control of our government seem bent on apologizing for the United States, striving to, in the words of President Obama, “remake America.” They want to remake us to look more like European social democracies. Liberals don't talk about democratic socialism anymore; they use new phrases like “social justice.”

Justice means treating every individual with respect and decency and exactly the same as anyone else is treated under the laws of the land. As best we can tell, “social justice” translates to politicians redistributing your hard-earned income to their favored social agendas. In Europe, this translates into bloated social welfare programs that punish work; massive tax burdens, particularly on the working class through hidden value-added taxes that crush economic expansion; and structural barriers to opportunity for younger generations of have-nots trying to enter the work force.

The politics of greed is always wrapped in the language of love. When you hear someone prattle on about social justice, read between the lines. More government control of health care is not really about improving access to health care; it's about controlling your health care.

It is time to take America back. We need to reclaim America from the advocates of big government in both political parties, from the rent-seeking corporations eager to use the power of government to enrich themselves at the expense of consumers and taxpayers, and from the web of left-wing special interests who feed at the public trough and consider it their right to do so.

If you want to comprehend the energy and passion behind the citizen activists of the Tea Party that are fighting this corrosive ideology of redistribution, understand this: We believe that America's founders got it right and that Europe got it wrong. Individual liberty is the unity of purpose that binds the Tea Party movement into a cohesive community. Freedom unleashed is a potent force for social change.

Excerpted from “Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto” by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and Freedomworks President and CEO Matt Kibbe,

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