American Love of Liberty is Not Dead

American Love of Liberty is Not Dead

By Robert Tracinski - April 16, 2010

This is the prepared version of a speech given yesterday at the Tax Day Tea Party sponsored by the Jefferson Area Tea Party in Charlottesville, Virginia.

This day-Tax Day, April 15-has a special meaning for a lot of us in the tea party movement. On this day exactly one year ago, we first realized how many of us there really are. We got our first confirmation that the distinctive American love of liberty is not dead.

And that brings me to the other reason why we're here today. On this day, we are reminded of the enormous seizure of wealth being perpetrated by our government. Yet even as the federal budget skyrockets up toward $4 trillion, a recent study showed that 47 percent of people don't pay income taxes. In fact, 20 percent of the public gets the majority of their income from government.

On the other side, a minority of taxpayers are shouldering a bigger and bigger burden to pay for the benefits that go to everyone else.

I am by no means rich, yet somehow I don't fall into the 47% that gets the government benefits without paying the taxes. And I don't want to. It is not my goal in life to live off the work and effort of others. It's not my dream to be sitting around hoping that daddy Obama and mama Pelosi will take care of me.

But that is the future of this country, if we don't stop it-a majority of people living off of government, while the number of people who actually work and produce wealth becomes smaller and smaller and gets bled more and more every year.

The whole idea behind income taxes and runaway government spending is a reversal of the original meaning of America. It is a switch from a system of individual rights, a nation of independent individuals, private enterprise, and private property-to a system of subservience to the state.

Subservience is really what April 15, Tax Day, stands for. What are we all supposed to be doing today? What are the people pulling into the post office parking lot today, clutching their envelopes in their hands, what are they doing? We're all supposed to sit up late into the night bending over our tax forms, then we're supposed to rush to the post office to mail in our checks before the deadline.

That's the worst thing about our tax system: that it relies on so much of our own effort, on the illusion of our voluntary cooperation. April 15 is a day that is supposed to symbolize Americans' voluntary submission to the rapacious grasp of big government.

You don't have to take my word for it. A year ago, a Democratic Party political hack, a guy by the name of Paul Begala, wrote an article praising Tax Day as "the one day most Americans sacrifice for government" and so he said it ought to be known as "Patriot's Day."

The individual sacrificing for the government? Is that your idea of "patriotism"? It's not mine, either.

I didn't think I'd see anything worse than that article-but wouldn't you know it. On Monday, there was a new article in the Boston Globe by somebody named James Carroll, who argues for "the true patriotism of paying taxes." He says that we should show gratitude for paying taxes, because it is our chance to show our dedication to-and this is a real quote-"the sacred treasure we share as a people." That "sacred treasure" is the state. And, he says, "Taxes are its sacrament."

The state as "sacred"? Taxes as a "sacrament"? I've heard it said that the left wants to put the state in the place of God, but I've never heard someone on the left admit it so clearly. Religious folks would view this as sacrilege. I'm secular in my outlook, but I agree-it's a sacrilege against America.

The whole idea this nation stands for has been turned on its head. They are trying to tell us that patriotism consists of showing the subservience of the individual to the state. But the basic principle on which America was founded is exactly the opposite. It is the subservience of the state to the individual.

The Declaration of Independence doesn't just declare our inalienable individual rights, it also says that "to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men." What this means is that the government serves us, and its whole purpose, its only justification for existence, is to protect our liberty-and specifically to protect our right to the pursuit of happiness.

So we know what the left stands for: the individual sacrificing his life and effort and wealth to their God, the state. And we know what America stands for: the state protecting the individual's right to the pursuit of happiness.

So we also know that patriotism means fighting for freedom and individual rights. I can't think of a better way of expressing that patriotism than making April 15 into an annual day of protest against the government's assault on our wealth and freedom. We can reverse the meaning of this day, making it into an annual reminder that the government's looting of our lives and effort is not inevitable, that we don't consent to it, that we have the power to stop it.

I used to hope that someday, when we finally get rid of the income tax, that maybe April 15 will be just another day on the calendar. But not any more, not since last year's Tax Day Tea Party.

Now I hope that some day, when the beast has finally been caged, when our government has been restrained within its constitutional limits and no longer needs to be fed with trillions of dollars of our tax money, maybe then when the income tax has finally been abolished, April 15 will remain-as an annual Tea Party festival.

Let's turn April 15 from Tax Day to Tea Party Day. Let's make it a second Independence Day, on which we celebrate our liberation from big government. Let's make it a day when we celebrate our rejection of the whole doctrine of the individual's sacrifice to the state.

That's what I'm here for today, and I hope you'll join with me to send that message.

Robert Tracinski is editor of The Tracinski Letter and a contributor to RealClearMarkets.

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