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Mickey Edwards
Political leader

Mickey Edwards

Former U.S. Congressman, Mickey Edwards is vice president of the Aspen Institute, where he directs the Institute's Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership.

Vague grievances, uncertain goals

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 revolution, at least until the outbreak of war, was largely decentralized; so is today's tea party movement. That is where the similarity ends. The Founders had very specific grievances and very specific goals; the tea party, on the other hand, is made up of people with very general grievances and uncertain goals. The Founders rebelled against monarchy and demanded a government selected by the people; the tea party is a rebellion against government selected by the people.

The tea party is upset by the size of government; the Founders were concerned not about the size of government but about its scope. The Founders created a constitution -- rule of law --- that put limits both on government leaders and on the power of the majority; many in the tea party seem to favor rule by majority. The tea party is focused on outcome; the Founders were focused on process.

The Founders might wonder why they were being asked what they thought of the tea party since they would probably consider it an undertaking not at all related to their own actions in creating a new nation with power to act, clear limits on the areas in which government could act, and a clear division of authority between government officials.

By Mickey Edwards

 |  July 1, 2010; 12:14 PM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Transcript: Chamberlain at Gettysburg | Next: Our feuding Founding Fathers


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To even pose this question is a ludicrous example of how the government has been taken over by corporations. The teabaggers are fully funded by rich,arrogant,big money conservatives like Dick Armey and Grover (I WANT TO DROWN GOVERNMENT) Norquist. The patriots of 1776 declared independence from Britain to the benefit of EVERY AMERICAN. These greedy creeps want a government of, for, and by the rich. The stupid teabaggers are merly STOOGE REPUBLICANS being used to give a grass roots feel to this BOGUS MOVEMENT. Just a coincidence that this trend started the day a black Democrat was elected. Yeah. Right!

Posted by: hughsie48 | July 5, 2010 12:35 PM
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The USA seems to become like an old man
walking backwards eyes firmly fixed on
where he has been, and only occasionally
looking over his shoulder to see where he
is going.

Posted by: George-W | July 5, 2010 10:37 AM
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Founding Father's focused on 'process' not 'outcome?" Do you seriously believe that?

I'd say that the Founding Fathers were completely focused on the outcome...that being complete and total independence from the the British democracy of which they were a part.

The 'process' that the American colonies used to accomplish their outcome included, treason, riots (Boston Massacre), destructive political actions (Boston Tea Party), secret militias, armed resistance, alliances with nations hostile to their nation (France), piracy, and a host of other actions that make the Tea Party look like...a tea party.

I personally don't care for the rather vitriolic approach the Tea Party movement employs. However, I have to admit that they are as American as apple pie on the 4th of July. They are protesting loudly, organizing, and voting just like progressives and others have done through out the history of our nation. I don't find the Tea Party any uglier or unAmerican than Code Pink, the unions, or any number of progressive-leaning groups.

Posted by: Bsix | July 2, 2010 12:16 PM
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I get the feeling fire eaters like Thomas Paine would have loved the Tea Party. But he was more interested in outcomes and not so thrilled with process. Fortunetly the Adam's and Jefferson's won out and created a nation. Not just vented their anger in a war with Great Britian.

Posted by: kchses1 | July 1, 2010 1:19 PM
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