Letter to the Editor: Response to Claims of Historical Ignorance

Dear Editor,
This is in response to the letter, “Tea Partiers should try learning some history” published Friday April 23rd.

Limiting government is a very real and historical American political tradition; from the founding and the institution of the Articles of Confederation, limiting Federal power in such a way as to make the common defense of our citizenry difficult, to the balance created in the United States Constitution so as to ensure ONLY those powers specifically enumerated to various levels of government are exercised, as a people we have often been at odds with government power whether for ill or good.

What the Tea Party represents is simply a reflection of this tradition: a simple repudiation of a level of taxation and spending that is hardly good for the fiscal future of this nation; a realization that what works best in a Federal system is more local control, rather than centralization of control; and finally, a problem with elected officials adhering to a set of principles that serve their careers better than constituents, whether Republican, Democrat, or somewhere in between.

Another bit of history: the debate concerning the power of the Federal government has been taking place since the Articles of Confederation were in place. There was a very real concern at the time of the Constitution’s writing that the Federal government would be granted too much power, and the debate has continued well beyond its ratification.

You can read what arguments were written in favor of our constitution in the Federalist Papers, but note that these arguments do not emphasize the need for unlimited Federal power, only enough to grant the government the authority to attend to its affairs without the constraints placed on it in the Articles of Confederation, which made such action impossible.

I didn’t learn any of this from Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, et al. Instead, I cracked open a few books and read them long before the Tea Party was ever in place. Traditions change, and there is nothing wrong with that, but we should read and understand the real needs and concerns surrounding the founding of our nation in order to better understand why people feel the need to continue in them. This debate is a legitimate one, but it is better to address the issues rather than to disparage the messenger for the beliefs they hold.

Mike Mattner

Sent to the Herald Palladium for consideration.