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Robert Goodwin

Robert Goodwin

Robert J. Goodwin is CEO and co-founder of Executives Without Borders; former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force and appointee at USAID, the State Department and the White House.

A just cause

Q: On this July 4th weekend, we celebrate Adams, Jefferson and other rebels who dared to challenge the established political order. Putting your own political preferences aside, what do you think the leaders of the American Revolution would view the leaders of today's 'Tea Party?'

The Founding Fathers and Tea Party activists are in many ways cut from the same cloth. Where Washington, Adams, Franklin and Jefferson saw an oppressive British regime playing an increasingly disruptive role in their daily lives, the men and women railing against big government see an erosion of the very principles those luminaries fought to establish. And where the founders were willing to take up arms in pursuit of liberty, the Tea Partiers are now speaking out against the ways in which their government is limiting personal freedom and diminishing the vital role of personal responsibility in our society.

From health care to energy and from education to personal protection, there aren't many aspects of American life today that aren't in some way influenced by the government. There may not be Redcoats in our homes and communities, and citizens' tax burdens may not be those of the British colonists, but Tea Partiers see the country moving closer and closer to the day when such comparisons might not be so outlandish. Our founders secured for them the right to peaceably rise against such a tide - and they are taking full advantage of the voice guaranteed to them by those who came before.

Just as some of the founders disagreed with the radical revolutionary tactics - such as the Boston Tea Party itself - some might also disagree with lack of civility with which some Tea Partiers have chosen to make their case. But, at the same time, I would be surprised if any of 1776's revolutionaries would find fault with the arguments and emotions driving the Tea Party's cause.

By Robert Goodwin

 |  July 2, 2010; 6:33 AM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The original Tea Party protested taxation without representation, which is not the case today. I think it is more like the Whiskey Rebellion that protested taxes (imposed to pay off the debts incurred during the Revolutionary War).

So, it appears they've chosen the wrong beverage for the wrong reasons (particularly since our leaders refuse to raise taxes to pay for our current wars).

Posted by: wonder5 | July 6, 2010 9:32 AM
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This guy favorably compares T-baggers to founding fathers? Looks like the post has gone nuts with the right wing lunatatis.

Posted by: jimbobkalina | July 6, 2010 1:32 AM
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Our Founding Parents were be embarrassed and sad to see such a group of bigots and losers. Their theories, rhetoric and ideas are from a planet of a different reality. One thing that is consistent: the biggest problems we have faced: decimating the middle class and poor while serving the rich; breaking the bank with military overkill spending; defense of Wall Street/ corporate America, energy kingpins, would be worse if this group of mentally unbalanced people came to power.

Posted by: revbookburn | July 5, 2010 7:20 PM
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The original crafters of the Constitution were from the Enlightenment era, which was charaterized by a rational, critical and open discussion of public issues. The Tea Party may represent a certain spirit of public discourse, but their orthodox views betray rationality.

Posted by: MHawke | July 5, 2010 11:16 AM
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The founding fathers were educated, thoughtful men. The teabaggers are neither educated nor thoughtful. It's a huge difference.

Posted by: bob2davis | July 5, 2010 7:52 AM
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The current administration won a democratic election legitimately by a comfortable margin. The people who have become Tea Partiers had ample opportunity to express their views and they simply lost the election. This is entirely different from an irresponsible monarch imposing taxes on people when those people have no opportunity to participate in the choice of the policies they are supposed to obey. The analogy is completely false, and I can't imagine how any intelligent person with the least bit of objectivity can claim anything else. Sore losers in a democratic election are not analogous to people forced to pay taxes without political representation.

Posted by: twm1 | July 5, 2010 5:44 AM
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the original tea party was a tax revolt. the rallying cry was "no taxation without representation." today's tea partiers care more about their own pet peeve issues rather than "taxation without representation." isn't it odd that the tea party is silent when it comes to dc voting representation in congress? i'm sure that just like other political parties, when wayne lapierre says "jump!" they say "how high"

Posted by: erniek4567 | July 2, 2010 12:06 PM
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coughlinc you are still brain dead aren't you. Apparently you still miss bush's stupidity!!!

Posted by: davidsawh | July 2, 2010 11:52 AM
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Is there a single adult among the teabagheads. They seem about as intelligent as that moron w.

Posted by: davidsawh | July 2, 2010 11:50 AM
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The teabaggers whining about attacks on the Constitution now were either silent, or enthusiastic about the following:

The "Patriot" Act

Warrantless spying on US citizens and their purely domestic communications

Torture as official US policy

Indefinite detention

Suspension of habeas corpus

What was heard from the teabaggers regarding the above was usually along the lines of "Good Job President Bush, way to stick it to those terrorists and dirty liberals".

The teabaggers and their Gods, Bush Jr and Cheney, drove this country into the ditch, yet, somehow, the teabaggers are "victims" of an overarching government they enthusiastically supported from 2001-2009.

A drop in the middle class, and a rise in those living in poverty, a greatly-weakened military and a love for unchecked corporate power at the clear expense of consumers, patients, investors and policy holders, that's what nonsense like that peddled by the teabaggers and this drivel by Goodwin.

Here's some freedoms people-except for the teabaggers apparently-DON'T want:

The "freedom" to go bankrupt due to medical problems

The "freedom" to lose your 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendment rights in the name of "national security", over your expressed objections.

The "freedom" to get screwed by corporations with no legal recourse whatsoever.

The "freedom" to go broke due to the financial industry's shady, opaque procedures, such as credit derivative swaps.

The "freedom" to be unemployed, with corporations also getting tax breaks for firing their employees.

The "freedom" for those same unemployed workers to have their pockets picked to fund the pensions, health-insurance premiums and health care costs of elected officials who claim those jobless workers are just lazy and trying to game the system, and then vote to deny the same financial benefits to the unemployed that the jobless provide-involuntarily-for their elected overlords.

The "freedom" to die on the job and watch our environment destroyed by governmental deregulation and industrial self-regulation.

When the teabaggers and those other extremists on the far right want to advance policies which increase, rather than shrink, the middle and investor class, then that would be a miracle, seeing as how their policies-hostility to unions and the minimum wage, support for tax breaks of businesses that offshore their jobs, attacking a progressive income tax-are inherently anti-middle class.

The teabaggers-and since they insisted on that title for themselves before they knew its vulgar connotation, that's the label they're now stuck with-deserve to be mocked and ridiculed as mercilessly as they mocked and ridiculed anyone who took exception with the Bush Jr/Cheney Administration and GOP rule of Capitol Hill.

If the teabaggers hate losing elections so much, then instead of threatening violence when their candidate loses, perhaps another country with a strong leader who brooks no dissent is more their style, say, North Korea.

Posted by: kingcranky | July 2, 2010 11:36 AM
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Well said Mr. Goodwin.

Your post has elicited the normal, hysterical Left that tout slogans without even rudimentary facts.

Republican policies? Doesn't the Left read anymore?

Between 2001 and 2008, the US added the equivalent weaalth of the GDP of Japan to the US GDP. That's right Leftie....go check it out.

Bush deficits over eight years totaled $2.1 trillion. Obama's deficits in just TWO YEARS total $2.75 trillion. The red ink just gushes from here. After eighteen months, when are the lefties going to take responsibility for their own economic policies and the morass it has created?

But I digress. You made a crack about Tea Party civility. Yes, I know those lawn chair-sittin', cooler-carrying, flag waiving, Pledge of Alligience sayin', freedom-loving, limmited-government enthusiasts can sometimes seem seditious to those who don't agree, but they can't hold a candle to the flag burning, car-destroying, police attacking, vulgar vandals of the left that created chaos at the G-20.

Given the choice I'd pitch a tent with the Tea Party any day. Infuriating for the white wine and brie set, so would a majority of Americans.

Posted by: CoughlinC | July 2, 2010 10:37 AM
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The Tea Party movement is a disingenuous Republican farce.

From the beginning, they have displayed outright dishonesty with seniors on Medicare denouncing Socialism.

NONE of them were criticising the previous ten years of financial ruin brought on by the Republican Party.

You can't be anti-establishment after you WERE the establishment and broke everything without being disingenuous.

From Sharon Angle to Doug Hoffman to Rand Paul, they have offered nothing but flakes as leaders.

Posted by: vigor | July 2, 2010 10:11 AM
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There's a huge difference between any situation in today's U.S. and the situation that the Founding Fathers were in - namely, representation.

The colonists had no representation in governance issues, but - more importantly - had no mechanism for attaining that representation.

Today's Tea Party is railing against a democratically elected government, and it is their right to do so. However, most often I hear hyperbolic comparisons from Tea Party folks to a time in our history where there was no democracy.

I think the Founding Fathers would be proud that the Tea Party folks have the right to say what they want, but they would probably remind folks that the situations are not comparable. They might also ask the Tea Party to come up with possible solutions to the problems that they perceive.

Posted by: kenzoan13 | July 2, 2010 9:48 AM
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The Tea Party only cries about Big Government now that Obama's in office. I doubt we'd hear the same thing if Palin is elected in 2012....same government, colorless President....no more Tea Party.

Posted by: massmedia77 | July 2, 2010 9:25 AM
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The Tea Party would have more credibility if what they are ranting about is accurate, if they had been this vocal when personal liberties were being trampled on...remember Terri Schiavo?, and if they hadn't formed exactly when Pres Obama took the presidency.

But most of all, they offer no solutions. What would the Tea Party have done in 2008 when our major banks were about to go under?, etc.

Posted by: jimbom | July 2, 2010 8:53 AM
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Really?? I think the founders would be absolutely appalled at the Tea Party. The founders brought vision and a constructive "can-do" attitude to their work. They were practical intellectuals with a coherent philosophy that went far deeper than "Remove the King" with concrete ideas of what was to follow. And they understood the concept of shared sacrifice.

Most of today's TP is a shrill, hollow shadow of the founder's legacy.

Posted by: jack824 | July 2, 2010 8:34 AM
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Robert Goodwin in WaPost: "From health care to energy and from education to personal protection, there aren't many aspects of American life today that aren't in some way influenced by the government."

The point of having a federalist government was to carry out the six covenants of the constitution, which all 'citizens' thereafter agree to abide by, in a manner that is "uniform throughout the United States" as stated in Article I, Section 8:1, powers of the congress. The Preamble gives those agreed to covenants as Justice, Tranquility (peace), General Welfare, Common Defense, Liberty (including freedom from excess taxation and debt), and our Posterity (leaving something better). These six items actually contained nearly all of the accumulated wisdom up to 1789 and their dynamic interaction was an excellent baseline for human beings to live within the same infrastructure. To suggest that a human being could improve himself without being a part of that infrastructure is a narcisstic fantasy; the objective of government should be to use the six covenants to ALLOW a person to enhance his existence over that of building a fire in a cave. But it is also necessary for each individual, without exception, to contribute to the six covenants in some way. Unfortunately, the current state of affairs in America has caused Liberty and Justice to be sacrificed to 'foreign' entities who do not adhere to the constitutional covenant. Rebalancing the six parts of the constitution into a progressive dynamic for our Posterity requires a ‘Tea Party’ mentality and at some point, if the enemies of the constitution continue their current activities, Americans need to decide whether that restoration of values requires bayonets or not. Trusting a dysfunctional government to re-balance its reasons to exist on its own has been a dismal failure throughout history and the current American ‘system’ is no exception. Does the Newtonian Law of ‘equal and opposite’ force apply?

Posted by: arjay1 | July 2, 2010 7:49 AM
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the tea party would have a lot more credibility if they hadn't let the republicans run rough shod over our democracy and only complain when a democrat is in the white house.

Posted by: blinwilly | July 2, 2010 7:32 AM
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