Now that the conservative movement has prevailed at the ballot box, it’s worth taking note of the movement’s goals and aspirations, which seem so reasonable to some and so wild-eyed to others.
I found one account that seemed to put succinctly what many have been fighting for nationwide the past several years. Because it conveys the Tea Party’s agenda as well as anything I have seen, I am using the Tea Party as the generic name of the conservative movement represented here in discussion of the battle fought on Election Day.
“[The Tea Party] does not claim sole credit for these successes. However, the statements of many candidates indicate that the help of the [Tea Party movement] was effective, and in many cases accounted for the victory” and will help to achieve “significant restraints on government profligacy...”
“The visionary policies of the socialist-liberals have enmeshed our nation in an assortment of national crises unprecedented in our history. These destructive policies fall into the following categories:
“1. Abdication of national sovereignty and neglect of our national defense...
“2. Neglect by government of its primary duty to protect the lives, limbs, liberties and property of its citizens against internal and external aggression in favor of policies of indulgence and permissiveness which promote anarchy and favorable treatment for criminals at the expense of their victims.
“3. Pursuit of fiscal and monetary practices which debauch our currency and endanger our economy. Included among these are profligate government spending, imbalanced budgets [and] excessive taxation ...
“4. Denial of the fundamental concept of our American way of life, an economically independent citizenry, supporting and controlling a government that is the servant of the people, not their master. This has led to legislation by judicial decree, usurpation of states’ rights and local authority, socialized medicine, and government controls and competition with private industry.
“All of these ruinous policies and practices can be corrected by bold action by a properly motivated Congress. For this reason, [the Tea Party] has adhered to its original goal of electing constitutional conservatives to the Congress. We are convinced that most of our people believe in the ideals of our Founding Fathers. They have been misled by false prophets. Once they are given the truth, they will rally to discharge their duties to God and Country to the end that our free Republic will be saved.”
Of course it does, if you’ve been paying attention to what Tea Party conservatives like Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul have been saying since the 2008 election. People are fed up with a federal government that has turned its back on the Constitution.
But there is another reason why the list of complaints about liberals should sound familiar — because we have fought this battle before. In fact, the words cited above are not a follow-up to Tuesday’s elections and were not written about the Tea Party. They were part of a column written in 1968 by Adm. Ben Moreell to describe another group’s ongoing fight against the slide toward socialism.
According to Moreell, Americans for Constitutional Action was founded “by a small group of concerned men” in 1958 “to arrest the movement of our nation toward a Socialist State, which they believed would end in destruction of our Republic and loss of individual freedom.”
Moreell was a significant figure in American military history, being credited as the founder of the legendary Seabees, the Construction Battalions that helped build the infrastructure of America’s naval victories in World War II. After his retirement from the Navy in 1946, Moreell became an industrialist and was CEO of Jones and Laughlin Steel Company.
None of these accomplishments meant anything to the liberal elite, however, when in 1958 Moreell spearheaded the creation of Americans for Constitutional Action as a counterpoint to the growing influence of Americans for Democratic Action. At that point, Moreell became as laughable to the media as Sarah Palin is today. He was dismissed as a member of the “radical right” — one of the kooks (or as we say today “wingnuts”) who wanted to stop the encroachment of socialism in American government and society.
So what exactly was the “radical” agenda of Adm. Moreell? Listen again to his own words, from that same 1968 column, when he described the founders of Americans for Constitutional Action:
“They called themselves ‘constitutional conservatives.’ They used this term to designate persons who work to conserve the spirit and principles of the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, which embody the ideals of liberty, justice and opportunity for all, on which we can build, moving neither to the right nor to the left, but upward, toward higher levels of awareness of our duties to God and to our neighbor.”
Wow, scary stuff. It does remind me of the Tea Party, and like the Tea Party movement today, it was smeared and vilified by the left-wing media, who painted Moreell and his associates as paranoid conspiracy theorists and, no doubt, racists.
But let’s just hold on and consider the facts.
America was at its zenith in 1958 — universally recognized to be at the height of its power, the peak of its creativity, and the most affluent it would ever become. You might well think, as many did at the time, that America was safe from any threat, foreign or domestic. It seemed like a perfect time to “spread the wealth around,” and over the next decade that’s just what happened. The invention of the Welfare State didn’t begin with LBJ’s “Great Society,” but it certainly became an inseparable element of public policy at that time, first with Medicare and then with more and more taxpayer-funded entitlement programs.
Americans for Democratic Action was already — and still is today — an influential organization that helped to shape the modern American state. You can call it liberal or you can call it progressive, but you can’t disguise its long-range goals: To move America from its founding principles of republican democracy to the failed policies of socialism.
That, of course, is the same “fundamental transformation” of America that Barack Obama promised before he became president — and it is no accident.
As the ADA website itself proclaims, the goal of ADA was “To keep the New Deal dream — its vision and its values of an America that works fairly for all — alive for generations to come. With the election of Barack Obama, the moment to realize so many elements of that long-deferred dream has come.”
The 100-year-old dream of socialists to replace America’s Constitution with foreign principles of “social justice” is what is really scary. And that’s what motivates Sarah Palin and millions of Main Street Americans to fight back to preserve and protect our cherished way of life.
No, the fight didn’t start in February 2009 when Rick Santelli urged Americans to meet up at Lake Michigan for a Chicago Tea Party. It didn’t start in 2010 when Americans turned out at the polls to say “no more.” It didn’t even start back in 1968 when Adm. Moreell wrote his column about the “ruinous policies and practices” of a left-leaning Congress.
It is both comforting and scary to know just how long this fight has been continuing. Think of how much wealth has been drained out of our country in the 42 years since 1968 — think of how much sovereignty “we the people” have surrendered. Yet Americans have not given up.
I suppose it is encouraging that the Tea Party movement has the upper hand for the time being, but just as most of you have never heard of Americans for Constitutional Action, it is entirely possible that the Tea Party will be relegated to the trash heap of history by the considerable forces marshaled against it.
This fight must be seen in perspective — not as Republican against Democrat, but as the proponents of liberty against the forces of slavery. Modern supporters of the Constitution must never underestimate the will power of those who think they are smarter than Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, and Samuel Adams.
But we must also never give up the fight.
As Adm. Moreell wrote 42 years ago, “It is increasingly evident that socialist-liberals who have been in control for 35 years cannot make good on their extravagant promises of achieving a ‘Heaven on Earth’ and they are losing public confidence. But in spite of these conservative gains, the battle is far from over.”
Just as true today as it was then, so don’t declare victory just because Republicans elected a few more senators and gained control of the House of Representatives on Tuesday. It’s not about victory for Republicans; it’s about preserving the Republic — and those are two very different things.