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THOMAS: The power of the tea party isn't terrorism

According to the website Politico, Vice President Joe Biden agreed ‘‘with a line of argument made by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) at a two-hour, closed-door Democratic Caucus meeting’’ that congressional tea party members ‘‘acted like terrorists’’ in the way they stood against attempts to raise taxes and force spending reductions as part of the debt-ceiling deal.

Biden denied making the comparison. Given the heated rhetoric behind and in front of the scenes, the use of such a phrase, particularly in light of Biden’s known salty language, has credibility.

Apparently tea party critics are constitutional illiterates. The preamble to the U.S. Constitution begins, ‘‘We the people.’’ Rights come from God, not politicians who think they are God. We grant power to our leaders to serve us. We are not their slaves.

The arrogance in the reported slander by Biden and Doyle is what voters hate most about many politicians. They see them as out of touch and unwilling to face challenges average citizens must confront when it comes to their personal budgets and behavior.

It is not tea party people who are the ‘‘terrorists.’’ A terrorist seeks to destroy. Who is the real destroyer in the debt-ceiling debate? Who wants to continue spending money we don’t have, borrowing it from nations like China that would be happy to destroy us if our politicians don’t do it first? Tea party people simply want to make their government accountable again and for this they are called ‘‘terrorists?’’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged there would not have been a deal in which taxes are not raised and spending curtailed had it not been for tea party members. He is right. Asking career politicians not to spend other people’s money is like asking Lady Gaga to sing from the Great American Songbook, dressed in conservative clothing. For her, that would be an unnatural act.

What we are witnessing in America is a re-awakening to the idea that the people own the power and do not have to sit idly by while the country they love and often sacrifice for is torn apart by irresponsible political leaders who wouldn’t have their jobs if the rest of us weren’t paying their salaries and benefits. The debt-ceiling debate showed that more people are demanding their government live within our means. We are tired of spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need.

Instead of hacking away at defense, should this ‘‘bipartisan commission’’ not reach the bill’s spending targets, how about closing the Department of Education, which does not educate, the Department of Energy, which produces no energy, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which builds no homes?

Far from being a spent force, as many predicted, individual citizens are rediscovering a power many may have thought they no longer possessed. Heading into the 2012 election, this renewed sense that the power to make or break a nation does not reside in Washington, but rather in the hearts and minds of its citizens, will add to a sense of hope that real change is about to happen.

While tea party critics are re-reading the Constitution, they should also consult the Declaration of Independence. That philosophical foundation of the Constitution reserves the right of the people to change their government when it no longer serves the interests of its citizens. The Declaration outlined the proper relationship between government and citizens, noting that government derives its ‘‘just powers from the consent of the governed’’ (and) ‘‘whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.’’

The British no doubt considered those who wrote and believed such things ‘‘terrorists.’’ We call them patriots. And those patriots just might force the vice president and his boss out of a job next November. That is their right. They have it in their power.

Email nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas at tmseditors@tribune.com. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/calthomas.