To help us launch It’s A Free Country, we reached out to politicians, academics, cultural thinkers, and activists to help us define our mission. The question we asked is simple: “What’s Broken in Politics, and How Do We Fix It?” This is David Webb’s answer.
I began losing faith in the institution of government in the late 1990's.
I had high hopes when the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years, but then they settled into the swamp they swore to drain. I took the Contract with America seriously, but the GOP leadership didn’t keep their vows to require balanced budgets, to hold Congress to the same laws as the rest of us, and to open up the work of Congressional committees to greater public scrutiny.
Under their watch, existing government programs continued to weaken America’s social fabric. The social engineering through entitlement programs failed to help those in need, and instead made the vulnerable more dependent on government. It created a welfare class, especially in the minority communities as evidenced by the further destruction of the family unit and degradation of the black community. Personal responsibility was gradually removed from the life equation. Bloated bureaucracies became the foundation of government instead of the Constitutions at the state and federal level.
But all this is not just the fault of Washington lawmakers. It is our responsibility to become a smarter, more demanding electorate. Americans -- especially Baby Boomers -- became complacent, financially fat, happy, apathetic and cynical of the process. We must delete short-term thinking and stay engaged between election cycles. We must accept that there will be a great deal of pain to extricate ourselves from this current crisis to leave a better America for the future. To remain selfish and shortsighted is to doom the future.
Government is needed and plays a vital role, but it needs to be cleaned out. That will not come from within. It will take outside pressure. We also need to decentralize power and put responsibility back in the hands of officials at the state and municipal level. We must give them the latitude to make choices and live with the consequences. The parties must put forth qualified candidates who not only express their desire to serve but, more importantly, their ability to do the job if elected. The American voter must not accept slick and polished mediocrity.
There is optimism in the awakened America mainly through the Tea Party Movement and in every citizen who now sees an overreaching government as the problem. In a confluence of times and technology, ease of information access and sharing, we have begun to ask government at all levels to do what is enumerated in the Constitution.
I have witnessed many simple but encouraging examples of citizen courage. The volunteers and leadership of my organization, TeaParty365, work tirelessly to educate themselves, each other, neighbors and strangers honestly. They’re Republicans, Democrats, Independents or have no political affiliation. Recently a tall imposing black man in a dashiki stopped me in Columbus Square with the words, "Tea Party?" I hesitated, not knowing what would come next. He shook my hand, said thanks and told me keep up the good work and said that no one defines him. I do not know his party nor did I ask. He is simply an American.
David Webb co-founded TeaParty365 in April 2009. It has an active membership of thousands in New York City and was a founding member organization in the National Tea Party Federation. He is host of "The David Webb Show" on Sirius XM Patriot.