Jeff Neal for C.U.R.E. - Certain Unalienable Rights Endowment

A Tank or a Little Girl? A Politician or a Leader?

In Opinion, Political Critique on February 28, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) appeared at the Tea Party Patriots’ National Policy Summit on February 26, 2011.

Without expressing any opinion about the rest of the weekend, the Tea Party in general, Sarah Palin’s fitness for office, or Barack Obama’s citizenship (I don’t really care where his mother gave birth) I will express an opinion about the modern political establishment, Democrats and Republicans, as exemplified by this portion of Mr. Barton’s remarks.  (Watch from 1:03 to 1:55)

[Rep. Barton compares majority and minority status with little girl and the tank in Tiananmen Square]

After a little nervous laughter, 800 people in the room went nearly silent, Rep. Barton paused, knowing his joke had fallen flat.  There was a fearful, sunken feeling deep in the gut of the group.  I’m not sure whether many of the crowd could have described the feeling, but it wasn’t admiration or respect.  I think it was shock.

Free men give our admiration, hearts and prayers to the little girl when we recall Tiananmen Square.  Americans don’t aspire to be driving the tank.  Emphatically we want no elected official to identify with the tank operator, even if he’s suggesting that the little girl symbolizes his or our political opponents.  We don’t think in those terms about ourselves, our neighbors, our opponents, our government . . . or anyone’s little girls.

Joe Barton prefaced this part of his speech by reminding the group that he is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. House of Representatives.  The portion of that long tenure that he chose to emphasize was the stark difference between his experiences serving in the majority versus in the minority status.  He grinned as he bragged about how fulfilling it is to be back in the majority, how important it is to have command of the tank again.

Of course he was speaking figuratively and was attempting humor, but the truth behind the bad joke is this: like every other member of our modern political establishment, Joe Barton relishes the power of his office and is seldom mindful of the individual liberty and unalienable rights of those he is privileged and paid to, uh, govern – One can’t call what they do “leading.”

We need a better brand of politicians.  We need men and women who don’t covet and are not seduced by power, who will not conclude that it is their mission to pass laws and regulations that dictate other people’s lives; men and women who don’t fantasize about driving a tank over their political opponents.

We will only find those men and women if we look beyond Washington and outside of the Republican and Democratic Parties.  We will find them if, and only if, we look for leaders who are proud to live by the creed that all men are created equal and abide by the law of nature that governments are not instituted to elevate or demote ANY man, or little girl.

Where is your heart?


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