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CARSON: The enduring spirit of the Tea Parties

Time hasn’t dimmed liberty set afire in Boston Harbor

- - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The famous Boston Tea Party involved disgruntled colonists who felt unfairly treated by the British Motherland, which was imposing an ever-increasing burden of taxation with little or no input from those being taxed.

The British reasoned that they were offering protection to the colonies and, therefore, the taxes were justified.

Because the British Empire was almost continuously expanding and engaging in warfare, a great deal of revenue was required. There appeared to be enormous natural resources and the capacity to develop them in the New World, and the monarch thought these could provide an endless source of revenue.

There was no consideration of the fact that the colonists worked hard to sustain themselves and also wanted to accumulate enough wealth to provide for their later years and for their families.

Interestingly, the much-maligned Tea Party of today faces the same concerns as the brave pioneers of old. They are also concerned about government overreach with programs such as Obamacare, unnecessary and unlawful surveillance of citizens, blatant and unchecked abuse by the Internal Revenue Service, and government cover-ups and media complicity.

Neither did the Boston Tea Party's participants, nor supporters of the modern Tea Party object to paying their fair share of taxes, but both witnessed an incessant escalation of government spending, which was always taken out of their hides.

The concept of cutting back on government expenditures was as foreign to the British as it is to our government today, which provides lip service but no meaningful action.

Why do so many members of the political class go to such great lengths to demonize the Tea Party?

It is not a sophisticated political organization, but rather consists of a loosely knit group of American citizens from many backgrounds who are not ready to relinquish the power of the people into the hands of government entities whose interests and values do not seem to coincide with theirs.

I think it is because certain politicians have forgotten that they work for us rather than the other way around. These politicians are deeply offended by anyone who would dare challenge their "wisdom" and authority.

Recently, a prominent senator publicly spoke out in favor of efforts to crush groups such as the Tea Party, which is considered by those like him to be troublemakers, rather than agents of free speech.

This kind of attitude has not been denounced by the Obama administration, and it is antithetical to the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, which were once regarded as precious in America.

As we approach the national elections of 2014 and 2016, the Tea Party and all other groups who respect the Constitution and our Judeo-Christian heritage should put aside minor differences and issues that can be addressed later and present a united front of common sense to combat forces that wish to fundamentally change America.

These forces will make every attempt to magnify a host of social issues upon which legitimate differences will always exist. Our entire social system is people-centric, rather than government-centric.

Those who truly understand this will not fall easy prey to those who wish to distract and divide them on these issues. We who think logically will not be shaken by those who say, "These are not minor issues." We realize that they are simply up to their old tricks in an attempt to maintain their power.

Unfortunately, they do not understand the consequences of their misguided ideological agendas of change. They have either refused to read the history books or have engaged in the rewriting of history.

In either case, honest reappraisal will educate them to the fact that governmental dominance does not create productivity and prosperity on behalf of the people.

It is obvious that our God-given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are jeopardized in today's environment of overt deceit by high government officials and blatant disregard of our Constitution.

When those in power pick and choose the laws they wish to enforce and grant waivers and exemptions to their favored groups, it is clear we are moving away from the principles of fairness and equality that once characterized our nation.

When the president can change laws with the stroke of his pen or a phone call and not be challenged by the other branches of government or by the media, we are in dire straits.

The central question is this: Do you trust the future of your children and grandchildren to this kind of governing structure? Or do you trust those patriotic citizens who wish to preserve the liberties that were fought for by the early Tea Party patriots, and by "the greatest generation," who stormed the beaches of Normandy in the face of fierce machine-gun fire?

These modern-day patriots are ordinary citizens who toil incessantly day by day to provide food, education and safety for our citizens. These are the people who fill the ranks of the Tea Party. They are not demons, but defenders of freedom. They are you and me.

Ben S. Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University.