Twenty months ago, on February 19, 2009, business reporter Rick Santelli of CNBC took to the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to deliver his famous rant against government bail-outs, and call for “a Chicago tea party.”Santelli may have sparked the Tea Party movement. But he only tapped into outrage that had been growing in many of us for decades.
For too long, you and I have watched helplessly as a clique of politicians, intellectuals, activists, and bureaucrats from both parties have tried to obliterate our Constitution, our capitalist system, and our personal liberty. This “bipartisan Ruling Class”—as scholar Angelo Codevilla describes it—sees itself as a moral, cultural, and intellectual elite. Codevilla says that “Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits.”
Oozing sanctimonious arrogance, viewing the rest of us as coarse, unsophisticated rubes who cling bitterly to guns and bibles, this class seeks to impose its own supposedly superior values and visions upon the rest of us, by force of law.
As we know too well, the ultimate goal of our Ruling Class is power. They exist—not to produce, not to invent, not to create—but to manipulate and master others. Ronald Reagan memorably summed up the Ruling Class’s governing outlook this way: “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
By contrast, the rest of us Americans seek power over circumstances, but not over each other. We acquire our personal sense of identity and self-esteem through productive work—not through imposing our will, values, and visions on our neighbors. We accept a “live and let live” philosophy.
This is the spirit embodied in our “Declaration of Independence.” That document was more than a declaration of political independence from our European rulers; it was a declaration of the moral independence of every human being. It was a declaration of each individual’s moral right to his own life, his own liberty, his own pursuit of happiness.
This is the vision enshrined in our Constitution. That governing framework grants to public officials only specific, enumerated, and narrowly limited powers. As James Madison and the other Framers made explicitly clear, the Constitution was intended—for the first time in human history—to bridle the authority of politicians and bureaucrats, and thus to protect the moral right of Americans to go about our lives without interference.
So, the Constitution imposes upon government officials a host of constraints: separations of powers, checks and balances, the Bill of Rights. By constraining government, citizens enjoy the fruits of freedom.
Which explains why, since the early twentieth-century Progressive Era, Ruling Class power-seekers have targeted the Constitution for annihilation. The regimes of Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt subjected constitutional limitations on power to systematic, bipartisan attack. So did the “New Deal” of Franklin Roosevelt and the “Great Society” of Lyndon Johnson.
In our time, the clamor against individual rights and constitutional constraints on power has risen to a crescendo. And that is why we’re here. Today’s Ruling Class consists of the intellectual heirs of the earlier progressives. From Obama to McCain, from Arianna Huffington to David Gergen, from George Soros to Michael Bloomberg, our Beltway grandees continue to impart their wisdom and good taste upon us by law—telling us what to eat, what our children should learn and in what kind of schools, what vehicles we should travel in, what fuels should power them, where we should live, where our thermostats should be set, what we should grow, how we should use our land, with whom we should engage in business, what we should sell and at what prices, what portion of our earnings we may be allowed to keep, what “good causes” we must support, what language we must use in conversations about “sensitive” topics ranging from race to romance to religion, what medical coverage we must have, who must provide it, and at what price, and on, and on, and on.
It goes on without limit, because our Ruling Class accepts no limits, legal or moral, on its power to “do good” to us. We are mere mortar and bricks for their social engineering. Like missionaries visiting primitive tribes, they view us as savages, whom they must cage and civilize.
We see their boundless arrogance in Barack Obama, who tells his fellow Ruling Class members that “We are the ones we have been waiting for,” with his nose held so high in the air that any passing rainstorm would waterboard him. We see it in Senator John Kerry when, like some monarch, he refers to himself in the third person. We see it in Barney Frank, the only human on the planet who is able to strut even while sitting. We see it in Harry Reid, who told us the other day that, “But for me, we’d be in a world-wide depression.” We see it in Nancy Pelosi, who—when asked where in the Constitution was Congress granted the power to order us to buy health insurance—replied: “Are you serious? Are you serious?”
Never mind that the Ruling Class and its progressive policies have failed miserably to achieve their announced objectives. For more than a century, countless government programs have plundered untold trillions of dollars from taxpayers, then redirected them, supposedly to eradicate poverty, to end unemployment, to prevent disastrous business cycles, to put everyone in his own home.
But what do we see? Record levels of people on food stamps; soaring unemployment rates; a recession longer and deeper than any since the 1930s; a debacle in the housing market. Yet, what does the Ruling Class do in response? It demands more power to enact more of the same.
They say that a sure sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, while expecting a different outcome. By that criterion, progressives are bat-crap crazy.
But then, what are we, if we re-elect them?
Bad as this is, it is even more sickening to watch ambitious young men and women trying desperately to enter the Ruling Class, then rise through its corrupt ranks, in their lust for power and position. For an example, look no farther than our freshman congressman in Maryland’s First District. In his disgustingly dishonest campaign ads, as well as his voting record, Frank Kratovil has demonstrated that he’ll eagerly sell his soul for a seat at a Ruling Class table.
Mr. Kratovil has spent most of his campaign running away from his voting record—even from his party affiliation. From his ads, you would think he’s running as an “Independent,” not a Democrat. He demonstrates this independence by voting with his party 84.6 percent of the time—then accepting well over a million dollars in campaign contributions from party coffers.
Consider his votes on ObamaCare. Like Hamlet, Mr. Kratovil spent a year in anguished public indecision. This waffling persisted all the way to the last week before the final vote, while Nancy Pelosi collected the backing she needed to pass the bill. Then, after Pelosi had lined up enough support to let him off the hook, Kratovil first voted for ObamaCare to proceed to a final vote, then announced he would vote against the final bill on the floor. But since then, he has refused to back a bill to repeal ObamaCare.
Doing John Kerry one better, Kratovil was for ObamaCare before he was against it, before he was for it once again. This, he says, demonstrates his independence from the Democratic party line.
On the other big bills of the past two years—namely, the “stimulus” and “cap and tax” bills—this self-described “fiscal conservative” voted to add more than one-and-a-half trillion dollars to the government credit card. The stimulus boondoggle poured billions of tax dollars into pork projects for public-employee unions. Meanwhile, cap-and-tax was designed to clobber the oil, coal, and natural-gas industries, and to raise your energy costs $1600 per household. Kratovil voted for other earmarks and pork projects, too.
Two years ago, Frank Kratovil boarded a flight headed into Ruling Class territory. He’s well on his way—unless you cancel his flight on November 2nd.
Happily, I think that will happen. And it will happen to many other members of the self-appointed elite. Signs are everywhere that people are, at last, wising up and fighting back. Your presence here today is one of those signs.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been paying close attention to politics since I was a teenager in the 1960s. I’ve never been so optimistic about America’s future—and you are a major reason for that. For nearly half a century, I wrote and preached about our lost liberties and endangered rights, feeling like a lonely voice in the wilderness. But now, millions of voices are carrying that message.
However, we can’t stop on November 2nd. Our next task must be to transform the Republican Party into something more than an auxiliary chapter of the Ruling Class clique. The GOP has pretended for decades to be the party of freedom, capitalism, and limited government. And it has betrayed those principles repeatedly.
But we have not just a political party, but a cultural legacy, to reclaim—a legacy often described as American individualism. From our nation’s earliest days, when our pioneer ancestors blazed trails through forbidding frontiers, we Americans have never viewed ourselves as victims of circumstances. Fiercely self-assertive, proudly independent, we, more than any other people on earth, view ourselves as masters of our fates, as captains of our souls.
The spirit of American individualism, and the moral quest for personal liberty, motivated the Founders to pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to the cause. It is a cause for which many have fought and died, so that we don’t have to.
So, let us win a peaceful victory for that cause on November 2nd—and then, in the words of Washington, let us continue in the months and years ahead to raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair.