An old friend and graduate of the Ashbrook program, Jay Hartz
, writes a compelling essay discussing the similarities between the ideas of the Tea Party and those which animated John Ashbrook when he challenged Richard Nixon in 1972 for the Republican Party nomination for President. Reflecting upon some of Ashbrook's speeches and the issues Ashbrook considered most important, it is
remarkable to think that he was speaking nearly 40 years ago! Hartz questions whether Ashbrook was the Lycugus of the Tea Party Movement--the man who paved the way for a turn back toward a more thorough understanding of liberty. Ashbrook spoke of liberty uncorrupted by what he called "political semantics" that he predicted would cause us, "[o]ne of these days, . . . [to] wake up and believe that individual freedom is tyranny and government control is really liberty."
I can't speak to the example of Ashbrook as Lycurgus to the Tea Party, but--without fear of insulting Ashbrook's memory--I am
happy to see that, thus far, he has not achieved fame as a prophet. That's because instead of sitting back and watching Ashbrook's prediction above unfold, Americans are standing up and refusing to allow that frightful prophecy to become our "new reality." Like generations of Americans who have come before, we appear now to be waking up to the fact that our "new reality" is not going to depend upon the powers of Barack Obama or the work of any other political savior. Our new reality is going to depend upon whether or not we want to live in freedom and accept the consequences of that freedom, or whether we want to cling to a false sense of security in government control and beneficence. Are we serfs, or are we men? Now, more than at any time in our recent history, we may really be at a crossroads and be up against "a time for choosing." But the choice--at least for this November--will be ours.