We’re excited to share this excerpt from the introduction of Michael Patrick Leahy’s COVENANT OF LIBERTY: The Ideological Origins of the Tea Party Movement:
Four Broken Promises: Why the Tea Party Arose
The story of civilization can be told in the conflict between the individual’s desire for liberty and the state’s need to establish social order. Every government, once established, seeks to centralize and consolidate its own power at the expense of individual liberty. This is as true for a democratic republic as it is for a constitutional monarchy, an absolute monarchy, and oligarchy, or a dictatorship.
From the moment the citizens of a country bind themselves in a constitutional covenant that guarantees the rights of the individual and defines and limits the powers of the government, the battle lines are drawn between the faithful defenders of that covenant and those who seek to corrupt it.
The Tea Party movement arose in 2009 because the political class of the United States–in the form of members of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of our government–broke four promises found within the Constitution, thereby accelerating the natural tendency to centralize and consolidate power at the expense of individual liberty.
The first promise–to abide by the written words of the Constitution–was broken before the ink was dry on the last documents that sealed the uniquely American secular covenant contained in our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The second promise–to refrain from interfering in private economic matters–was broken whent he modern party that routinely pays homage to “free markets” first came to power. The third promise–to honor the customs, traditions, and principles that make up the “fiscal constitution”–was broken by Herbert Hoover and Franklin Delano Roosevelet 143 years after the Constitution was ratified.
Had not the fourth and final promise–that members of the legislative branch would exercise thoughtful deliberation while giving respectful consideration to the views of their constituents–been broken in such a disdainful and audacious manner in January and February 2009, the grassroots activists who came to be known as the Tea Party movement would never have been compelled to action.