Remarks to the WNY Tea Party on July 4th

by James Ostrowski by James Ostrowski Recently by James Ostrowski: The Political Class Crosses the Rubicon

Frank Sinatra used to ask in song, "What is America?"

Let me change that question slightly to "What was America?", because whatever America was, no longer exists.

You can say the pledge of allegiance and sing the national anthem all you want but please don’t pretend you are honoring the land of Washington and Jefferson. It has been many decades since America was governed by Jeffersonian principles of limited government or Washington’s foreign policy of minding our own damn business. Having a global military empire is not what I would call minding our own business.

America is a free country? In your dreams maybe. Or, if you define a free country as a country whose government is free to do whatever it pleases, then, yes, America is a free government. Perhaps you think a free country is a country with elections. When did you ever agree to exchange your right to liberty for the right to vote for which politicians will be your new slave masters? And where do you go to undue that idiotic "bargain" you never made in the first place?

If we can’t tell the difference between individual freedom and voting, all is lost. If you fail to understand that majority rule and elections are just an excuse to violate your natural right to liberty, we might as well all go home right now.

We just stumbled on the answer to the question "What was America?" For thousands of years of recorded history, men and women were governed by thugs who grabbed power by brute force and then called themselves kings, emperors, czars, kaisers, caesars, khans, shahs, and sultans. Then, about 300 years ago, a movement arose that led to the creation of America. We keep that movement alive here today. That movement holds that all human beings have a natural human to right to liberty that the government, democracy or not, could never violate.

I asked at the last tea party, what were those men and women at Lexington and Concord fighting for? The natural right to liberty. Liberty is simply the ability to do what you wish with what you own. Doing what you wish — with what you own.

Liberty is what the American Revolution was fought for. Jefferson explained that in the Declaration of Independence and in his first inaugural when he said: "a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."

It’s not an issue of left or right, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. Neither party has remotely stood for liberty for many, many decades, in fact, during the lifetimes of anyone standing here today.

The idea isn’t liberal as that term is now understood, or conservative. America was based on the radical idea of natural liberty which led to the violent overthrow of the evil old regime first in England, then in America, then in France.

Radical doesn’t mean violent, however. The founders tried every peaceful means for redress and their actions at Lexington and Concord were defensive in response to an attack by the British. No, those who favor the natural right to liberty constitute the party of peace since liberty is peace and peace is liberty.

So, radical doesn’t mean violent. It means principled. It means going to the root cause of our problems. That root cause is the death long ago of the natural human right to liberty as a governing principle.

Liberty, that age-old dream of humanity — we have never tasted it. We can only imagine what it was like after the Revolution for Americans of that era to wake up in the morning and know that the day is yours, not the king’s or some politician’s. Your life is yours. Your property is yours. You are in command of your destiny.

May I suggest that’s why we are here today. We Patriots are here today to keep the flame of liberty burning. We stand on the shoulders of giants who have fought and died for liberty for many centuries in many countries. Their dream has not died; it is merely asleep. America is not dead so long as the idea of liberty lives. We here today are keeping its flame alive. And we honor those brave men and women at Lexington and Concord who stood up to the best army on earth and sent them scurrying back to Boston, carrying their wounded and dead.

If we have one-tenth of their courage, we can win this fight to restore the Republic and finally win the fight for the natural right to liberty which is the very definition of America.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of The People to alter or to abolish it . . .

Happy birthday America. Long live the American dream!

July 4, 2009

James Ostrowski is an attorney in Buffalo, New York and author of Political Class Dismissed: Essays Against Politics, Including "What’s Wrong With Buffalo." See his website.