What A Party!

I was invited to speak at the Annapolis Tax Day Tea Party today, and the event succeeded beyond my wildest imagination. Despite a cold, pouring rain and gusty winds, over 2,000 people showed up at Campbell Park on the Annapolis City Dock to hear and be heard on the topics of excessive taxation and spending and the erosion of liberty. I heard the parking lot at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium was packed with the cars of people who came from all over the state for this event, and there were not enough shuttle buses to accommodate the numbers of people rolling in. In fact, as I was leaving for home, people were still streaming toward the dock, homemade signs in hand. The dedication of these people despite the adverse conditions inspired me and convinced me that Americans are starting to wake up to what big government, whether it’s led by Democrats or Republicans, is doing to us.

The number of young people who turned out for the tea party surprised me. In fact, the event was organized by Aaron Jones, a 27-year old auto mechanic and entrepreneur with no aspirations for politics, power or influence.

With his long sideburns, ponytail, and hairy chin, he doesn’t look like a “right wing extremist” as characterized by our Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which used to defend us against terrorist acts before they became “man-caused disasters” and now prefers to use pejorative language to describe American citizens who exercise their right to disagree with their government.

Aaron is a regular guy who just gets it when it comes to the inseparable link between personal and economic freedom, saw both being threatened by our overreaching governments in Annapolis and Washington, and decided he had to act on it.

It’s people like Aaron all over the country that expose the lies of the liberals who proclaim these tea parties are the product of some sinister central authority with deep pockets and malleable masses to persuade and direct. That may be how liberals organize protests, but it’s not how regular folks do it. Most of these people have never been to a protest before but love liberty and fear government’s encroachment into private industry, charity, and our pocketbooks.

One of the undercurrents of today’s tea parties across the nation was the release this week of a threat assessment by DHS aimed at “right-wing extremism.” While the assessment was purportedly directed at “white-power militias,” it clearly linked these hate groups with “groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority” and “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single-issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."

As I was driving home today, I received a call from a reporter who informed me that our tea parties were being called out in a Maryland Army National Guard advisory as a potential threat to Guard soldiers and facilities. “So this is what it’s come to,” I thought. It confirmed my worst fears about the direction in which we’re headed as a nation, and too many of us are too naive, star struck or uninvolved to see it

Earlier at the rally, I departed from my prepared remarks to lament the fact that DHS, the department I helped to stand up and in which I was a charter member, had turned its focus from avowed terrorists around the world to law-abiding citizens in the U.S. whose freedom of conscience leads them down a different path than their government.  DHS was created to protect Americans, not monitor them for holding tea parties. As I’ve said on more than one occasion lately, this isn’t the America I fought for.

Here are my remarks from today’s event:

I'm Ron Miller of RegularFolksUnited.com and I'm excited to be here with my brothers and sisters in liberty.

On the eve of November 4th, 2008, President-elect Obama declared to the more than 52 million Americans who didn't vote for him, "I will listen to you, especially when we disagree." Yet when we oppose his unprecedented deficits and expansion of government, he mocks us, asking "Where have you been? What have you been doing?" Mr. President, we've been at work earning a paycheck, at home raising our families, in our communities caring for our neighbors, and in our houses of worship praying to God to heal our land. Shame on you for dismissing us; it's our country, too and you're supposed to be the President of all Americans. We deserve your respect, not your contempt.

We're here because we know something is profoundly wrong with the direction being taken by our state and our nation. Our elected officials have forgotten whose money they're spending. There is no such thing as government money. That money is ours, marked with our blood, toil, tears and sweat, and we have every right to demand that it be spent wisely and well.

This protest is about more than taxes and spending; it's about valuing liberty over submission. Whether it's the Republicans or the Democrats in charge, government continues to grow, consuming more of our nation's wealth, shoving aside our charities, and intruding more and more into our lives. In the words of William F. Buckley, Jr., we must stand athwart history yelling "STOP!" because if the people don't demand liberty, who will?

The tea parties breaking out across the country represent a cry from the heart of liberty-loving Americans everywhere. But tea parties alone won't be enough. Write or call your representatives, even if they don't respond. Write letters to the editor and articles for the Internet. And next year at the polls, hold your elected officials accountable for how well or poorly they defended liberty.

America is at a crossroads and we must choose, this day, whether government is to be our servant or our master. I choose to stand for liberty; come stand with me.