Joe Biden's Tea Party 'Terrorists'

Politico is reporting that Vice President Joe Biden recently lashed out at Tea Party conservatives for "acting like terrorists" during the recent budget battle in Congress. 

Sources who were present at a closed-door, Democrat Caucus meeting on Monday said Biden was voicing his agreement with an incensed Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), who was busy verbally unloading such gems as: "We have negotiated with terrorists" and "This small group of terrorists have made it impossible to spend any money."

Think about it.  As reckless and immoderate Democrat politicians continue to ravish what remains of America's fiscal carcass, the "terrorists" among us are those, according to some on the left, who "have made it impossible to spend any money."

Democrats ought to be more careful, however, when choosing colorful epithets to describe their conservative political opponents -- especially their Tea Party opponents.  Tea Party conservatives trace their philosophical lineage to James Madison and John Locke -- the father and grandfather of the U.S. Constitution respectively.  And although the word "terrorist" had not yet been coined, both Madison and Locke made reference in their own terms to certain politicians who posed the gravest threat to constitutional government.

Today, those menacing politicians to whom these brilliant and early Tea Party philosophers referred sound suspiciously like the coterie of twenty-first century, redistributive ideologues who are calling themselves Democrats.

Take, for instance, America's honorary founding grandfather, John Locke.  The seventeenth century English philosopher argued in his classic "Second Treatise of Government" that the most important law of nature was self-preservation.  In light of this basic law of nature, Locke basically inferred that God could not have been a socialist, because the resentment and envy characteristic of spread the wealth, zero-sum political theories actually destroys the incentive to creatively increase the economy in the name of self-preservation. 

Tax and spend philosophies therefore are against the law of nature since they cripple the most rational means humans have to fulfill the natural drive for their, and their children's, self-preservation.

For Locke, "[God] gave [the world] to the use of the industrious and rational (and labor was to be his title to it), not to the fancy or covetousness of the quarrelsome and contentious."  God did not give the world to socialists because covetous, contentious socialist policies punish the very industrious and rational individuals who increase what Locke called "the greatest conveniences of life" which establish the foundation of a prosperous community.

Locke's "Second Treatise" is a masterpiece on how to design a political system with the greatest chance of guaranteeing our self-preservation.  It's no surprise then that Locke was at times highly suspicious of government and politicians in general -- both are the most likely threats to our self-preservation.  It was Locke who famously said that since the people constitute the authority in a commonwealth and the politicians comprise our servants, a proper understanding of "rebellion" would have to be turned on its head: it is indeed government that perpetually threatens to rebel against the people.

Those "being the likeliest" to destroy the social contract and deliver society back into a state of war are "they who are in power" (i.e. politicians).  The reason, says Locke, is that politicians, much more than the people, will succumb to three weaknesses: "the pretense they have to authority, the temptation of force they have in their hands, and the flattery of those about them." 

People, in other words, naturally choose to set up a limited, divided government that protects private property in order to give the society the best chance at flourishing.  Left alone, says Locke, the people have the best chance at self-preservation.  Our politician-servants however who succumb to the authority, power, and flattery characteristic of political life will begin to pollute the original laissez-faire system set up to reward the rational and the industrious.

Locke says the people are typically "more disposed to suffer than right themselves by resistance" when "the ill-designs of the rulers become visible."  The people, in short, are more apt to want to just get on with their lives and let these mini-government rebellions pass.  But once there is "manifest evidence that designs are carrying on" against their freedom and the people finally surmise the "evil intentions" of the rulers to "overturn the constitution" then the people "cannot but feel what they lie under, and see whither they are going."

The crucial point for Locke is that it is the government, not the people, "who put things into such a posture."  Politicians thirsty for power disrupt the normal functioning of a society originally set up by people who were interested primarily in human flourishing.  Locke calls those who disrupt this rational, constitutionally organized state of affairs the "pests of mankind." The rebellious pests will eventually "rouse the people" who will in turn "put the rule into such hands which may secure to them the ends for which government was at first erected."

Recall Locke's argument that the quarrelsome, contentious, and covetous of society will violate nature's most basic law -- self-preservation.  When a leftist political faction with a two year supermajority in Congress runs up trillions in debt and is reduced to terrifying senior citizens about their basic living expenses "we cannot but feel" that something is terribly wrong and unnatural about the current Democrat administration and its economic policies.

What Locke would call "terrorists" in other words are the covetous, quarrelsome, and contentious "pests of mankind" who "rebel" against their own citizens and attempt to smother in the name of power and self-interest our God given right to flourish in freedom and prosperity under a limited government.

Locke's most famous American protégé and a genuine constitutional scholar, James Madison, argued at the end of his brilliant Federalist #10 that there were three "wicked projects" that -- in the hands an unscrupulous political faction -- could potentially inflame our Republic with a most devastating plague: "a rage for paper money, [an] abolition of debts, [and] an equal division of property."

In other words, deficit spending, bailouts, and welfare state socialism -- the three pillars of the modern Democratic Party -- were, to Madison, the likeliest and most "wicked" threats to America's self-preservation.

For Madison and Locke then, some form of economic and political terrorism would eventually destroy the Enlightenment experiment in constitutional government.

When I read on Monday that the Vice President of the United States referred to those Americans most closely aligned with the Founders' philosophical vision as "acting like terrorists" I thought back to a typically truthful but in this case somewhat ominous essay entitled "Parting Company" penned last year by the incomparable Walter Williams. 

"I believe," says Williams, "we are nearing a point where there are enough irreconcilable differences between those Americans who want to control other Americans and those Americans who want to be left alone that separation is the only peaceable alternative."

Separation.  And one can only wonder about those who might be responsible, as Locke so presciently put it, for "[putting] things into such a posture."

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