It was a comment I read on Frank Strategies, refuting accusations that the Tea Party demonstrations are being formed by corporate lobbyists, that got me thinking about Sir Edmund Burke.
I’ve been working in politics professionally for 15 years, and I can attest that this is undoubtedly an organic grassroots movement unlike anything else I’ve ever seen on the Right.
Burke was an 18th century Irish Orator and Parliamentarian who is credited with opening the door of thought for modern day conservatism. Burke's defining moment was in his writing, "Reflections," later to be titled, "Reflections on the French Revolution." While there is much more to Burke, it was with this single book in which he epitomized his philosophical brand.
Burke was a believer in "organic reform" versus "abstract principles."
America, it now seems, is in a similar, but far less violent, situation as the French after their "hope and change" was enacted.
However, Burke did not oppose reform per se. He believed in organic reform and organic growth: that is, natural evolution. He had no time for drastic revolution. He opposed rapid, uncontrolled change, as was happening in France, particularly since the demolition of the Ancient Regime was in the hands of amateurs who had little or no political expertise.
In his Second Speech on Concilliation with America Burke wrote,
"Deny them (The Colonists) this participation of freedom, and you break that sole bond which originally made and must still preserve the unity of the empire. Do not entertain so weak an imagination as that your registers and your bonds, your affidavits and your sufferances, your cockets and your clearances, are what form the great securities of your commerce.
Do not dream that your letters of office and your instructions and your suspending clauses are the things that hold together the great contexture of the mysterious whole. These things do not make your government.
Dead instruments, passive tools as they are, it is the spirit of the English communion that gives all their life and efficacy to them. It is the spirit of the English Constitution, which, infused through the mighty mass, pervades, feeds, unites, invigorates, vivifies every part of the empire, even down to the minutest member."
As Burke so poignantly expresses, it is not the legislative processes or policies which make for good governance, it is the people. Their community and spirit are what drives the engine of this country and gives it its life. By potentially denying them their freedom, whether it be socially or economically, the very fabric and meaning of the Union could be dissolved.
Some are starting to recognize the attempted creation of an expansive government burdened by debt and economic controls, which are both extrinsic and incongruous to with which they are familiar. Potentially entering dangerous territory from where there could be no return.
Even more disturbing is the speed at which the "Hope and Change Revolution" is morphing.
Government, cannot systematically solve all problems and social ills that infect our society and culture, contrary to what we are being led to believe. Nevertheless, there is a basic need for its existence. An existence which should be be taken seriously by those governing and those being governed, for the sake of future generations.
From Reflections on the French Revolution.
Society is indeed a contract. Subordinate contracts for objects of mere occasional interest may be dissolved at pleasure — but the state ought not to be considered as nothing better than a partnership agreement in a trade of pepper and coffee, calico or tobacco, or some other such low concern, to be taken up for a little temporary interest, and to be dissolved by the fancy of the parties. It is to be looked on with other reverence; because it is not a partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are to be born.
This wisdom shows us that the practice of responsibility by our government and citizenry is far more important than our agendas.
From Burke's speech on the Independence of Parliament (1780)
Corrupt influence, which is itself the perennial spring of all prodigality, and of all disorder; which loads us, more than millions of debt; which takes away vigor from our arms, wisdom from our councils, and every shadow of authority and credit from the most venerable parts of our constitution.
The Tea Parties, or even the Left's variations, are a natural counter-revolutionary movement in response to this attempt at an agenda driven revolution of thought. With people starting to stand in peaceful opposition, it is only natural that attempts of discrediting their intentions, character assassination, or painting them in the light of extremism are being made by politically dominant.
There is so much more to Burke than I could ever hope to post here, he, like many other conservative thinkers, is a blog unto his own. His thoughts and philosophies have greatly influenced my own personal brand of conservatism. I can only hope that within this fervor of populism some might find solace and wisdom in Burke's words. Becoming inspired to lead a new generation of thought, that is more suited to our country and needs.