Shaping the Debate

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

The left leaning media outlets made much of the numbers at Wednesday’s Tea Parties. Keith Olbermann especially mocked some Tea Parties attended by less than recent sporting events. Understanding that Olbermann’s primary objective is not to inform (but rather to sell advertising), his observations (as well as those of his fellow travelers) avoid the important point.

Legend holds that at the time of the American Revolution 1/3 of the colonists were in favor of revolution, 1/3 were against the revolution and 1/3 were apathetic (plus ça change…) The number of men standing on the Green at Lexington was less than 100. To paraphrase that old saw “it is not the size of the crowd at the revolution, it’s the size of the revolution in the crowd.”

It is a mistake to argue whether the number of people at the Sacramento Rally was 5,000 or 10,000. It matters not that Atlanta’s numbers were inflated by Sean Hannity’s appearance. The proper response to these sorts of comments is not to gainsay; rather, the best retort is to emphasize the gravity of the issues discussed at the Tea Parties.

Too often a good idea will die on the vine because of a perceived lack of interest. Note that Olbermann and Maddow et al. spent very little time discussing the topic of tax reform and reduction of federal spending. Those who attended the Tea Parties and those who support tax and spending reform should be talking about how these ideas will create more opportunities and eliminate the impediments to financial success.

Perhaps the most grotesque attempt to suppress discussion of these ideals was Janeane Garofalo’s commentary on Olbermann’s show. She claimed that the Tea Parties were gatherings of racists whose limbic brains were enlarged. Garofalo’s attack could be dismissed as the ignorant rant of a misinformed actress; instead Tea Party participants should ignore the temptation to counter- attack Garofalo and her ilk. There is no way to win the argument as Garofalo seeks to frame it. There probably were some people at the Tea Parties who are racist with enlarged limbic brains. So what? That addresses not at all the validity of the points made by the Tea Party organizers.

The better course is to invite those who attack to discuss the merits of tax and spending reform. The person who defines an argument has already won the argument. If the history of the Tea Parties is reduced to head counts and allegations of racism then the cause will be lost. Proponents of tax and spending reform should insist that the discussion and arguments be on the merit of the ideas.

The battle will be won by convincing the apathetic that this is a fight worthy of their time and effort. It will be lost if the apathetic are allowed to think that the tax and spending revolution is the province of a cabal of racists. Shaping the argument is the destiny of the movement.

Less than 750 people were present for the inception of the American Revolution at the Green in Lexington and the North Bridge in Concord. These men were willing to sacrifice all in order to security the “blessings of liberty’. What moved others to join them was not their number but their passion and courage. The next American Revolution (whenever it comes) will be defined by similar passion and courage not by head counts.


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