Thursday, May 02, 2019

Op-Ed: The dangers of political showmanship

Shutterstock photo

“If we really want to know who is responsible for the mess we're in, all we have to do is look in the mirror. You and I own this country and we are responsible for what happens to it.”
– Ross Perot

Hyde Park in London is located near the entrance to Buckingham Palace. It’s been hosting free concerts, festivals, fairs, noble duals, and events since the 1500s. During the 19th century when Europeans were passionate about social and political change, people from all over Europe fled to Hyde Park to share their grievances. Today, activists from around the globe flock to Hyde Park to voice their views about anything and everything freely. It has been dubbed the free speech zone for “bewailing.” On any given day, there is enough hot air generated to launch the Goodyear Blimp.

America has been a free speech zone since our founding. Free speech led to The Revolutionary War. It fought wars. It stopped bad wars and ended slavery. It provided equal opportunity. Activists didn’t just talk the talk but walked the walk and made social and political history in America. Their voices were the call to action. Their battle cries were not criticisms for self-enamoration, but for a cause greater than they were. They finished what they started. They weren’t like some activists today that fill social media with so much hot air that climate changers accuse them of global warming.

One of the virtues for those seeking political and social asylum in the New World was freedom of speech and assemblage. America was founded on activism by men of honor whose actions spoke louder than their words.

Thomas Paine, our forgotten founder, walked from township to township to motivate passive colonialists to revolt for freedom. During the Revolution, he inspired our soldiers to keep fighting when defeat was on the horizon. If it wasn’t for Paine’s activism, we’d still be subjects instead of citizens.

“A man’s actions say much more than his most noble words.”
– Thomas Paine

Throughout our modern history, the activism of true leaders has made our nation stronger and far better than it would have been without them. Dynamic speakers like Ronald Reagan and Dr. Martin Luther King inspired the actions of others to bring about social and political change that made America a better place for everyone. Real leaders create more leaders than they have followers because:

“There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit.”
– Ronald Reagan

American activists responded to abuse of power by politicians like Huey Long, Franklin Roosevelt, Barack Obama and others. Activist legislators in FDR’s party revolted against his attempt to stack the court with hand-picked justices. Obama, who pledged to unite our nation, divided it soon after he took office.

When he laid out plans to transform America into a socialist democracy, patriots around the nation organized and joined the Tea Party movement. They stopped him in his tracks by retaking the House from progressives the year he socialized healthcare. They were organized and knew their Constitution and how to derail Obama.

Activism can easily become contagious. Part-time patriots have discovered pseudo-activism is a way to garner public attention by forming conclaves of like-minded misfits with patriotic monikers. Following the Tea Party Movement, tribal clans of self-anointed activist groups sprang up around America faster than Obama could say “change.” And the America Obama had divided, subdivided into activist bedlam. These mock activists cheapened the triumphs of the true reformers and their patriotic efforts to stop the progressive destruction of our democratic republic. This reversed our patriotic momentum. Despite their interference, enough patriots survived to elect Donald Trump.

Today, activists from every school protest something for some reason, some place, everyday. They come in a myriad of flavors; social justice seekers, socialists, climaters, gun controllers, preachers, pro-morality, anti-morality, “our-way is the only-way activists” and more. Some are organized, know Constitutional law and address real issues that can be corrected in our courts and legislatures. But there is such a potpourri of wayward cartels vying for a soapbox; their chaotic misbehaving drowns out rational reforms.

“Chaos only serves the most extreme elements of society.”
– Daniel Lubetzky

When the Tea Party put people in Congress to restore Constitutional order, other politicians tried to capitalize on their success. That was a fatal mistake. By then, many Tea Parties had been infiltrated with clone-startups that polluted their message. And this fueled a new breed of activist lawmakers who proposed unrealistic “feel good” laws in social media’s court of opinions. They were heroes of the day with mock activist groups. But their social media fame faded on Election Day as voters elected people who’d write laws to improve their lives, not to entertain activists. And they all lost their jobs.

Philosopher Iris Murdoch wrote, “The great task in life is to find reality.” Informed voters fear overly aggressive politicians force-feeding their personal menu of quick fixes for things they don’t believe are broken. Stroking the egos of selected social media whiners might make one a hero, but it does not appeal to the electorate or win elections. Business responds negatively to instability during an election cycle. Obama took advantage of a major recession and “conned” well over half of America with one “say-nothing” catchphrase:

“We are the change we've been waiting for.”
– Barack Obama

The antics of Obama not only birthed the Tea Part movement, but worse, it opened the legislative chamber doors for a host of very dangerous and aggressive leftist activist legislators who revealed they know less about constitutional law than Barney Fife. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, rapper Antonio Delgado, and activist Sharice Davids should have never been elected. They had no experience, or knowledge of law, and campaigned to cause chaos in Congress. The support from mock activists helped them transform Congress into a circus show. These bad actors didn’t run for office. They auditioned for starring roles on Congress’s stage at taxpayer’s expense.

Americans like Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 ignited the Civil Rights Movement. Other activists started campaigns to change local laws. No matter how big or small, America has benefited from citizen activism done for the right reason that benefits society. But when a small group of misfits and radical legislators disrupt constitutional law and order for personal gain, it discourages the activism America depends on to maintain our liberty.

“People are not going to change because an activist goes around shouting.”
– Jens Martin Skibsted

Thomas Paine wrote, “Every man has a right to his opinion.” Our nation was founded by men with informed opinions they shared to form our great republic. We have the longest-surviving republic in history due to citizen interaction with government. Timely protests have ushered in needed change. But disruptive engagement has resulted in riots, mob violence, and socio-political unrest.

America is at a critical crossroads. We need an enlightened voice from citizens and legislators to recover law and judicial order for our republic to make the “right turn” in order to survive another two centuries.

“There never was any truth or principle so irresistibly obvious that all men believed it at once. Time and reason must cooperate with each other for the establishment of any principle.”
– Thomas Paine

William Haupt III is a retired professional journalist, author, and citizen legislator in California for over 40 years. He got his start working to approve California Proposition 13.