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AN AMERICAN TRADITION: Two hundred twenty-eight years ago, a group of men gathered in Philadelphia and declared their independence from the British crown. This act was perhaps one of the most momentous in the history of mankind, because it fundamentally challenged the idea that any individual monarch, despot, or government aristocracy could possess sovereign power over the individuals of a nation. Instead, these “Sons of Liberty” boldly asserted the sovereignty, liberties, and property rights of the individual. We must do this again. Our ideals are at stake.
The process that produced the Declaration of Independence was in some ways typical of American politics today. The result, however, was anything but typical of American politics. It was radical in principle. And, it was revolutionary in practice -- sweeping political change driven by a small cadre of committed individuals armed only with their passion and their principles. Politics as usual would not stop them.
It is hard not to view the Declaration as a political fluke, but it was not. The political momentum for liberty was in large part created by the efforts of an organized cadre of patriots, men who shared a passion for freedom and a willingness to stand up and be counted. These so-called “Sons of Liberty,” led by Samuel Adams, used targeted grassroots activism to undercut American support for British rule and create the political conditions that made ratification of the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution possible.
Speaking truth to power was important, Adams knew, but nothing beat the power of grassroots activism. In the early 1750s, Adams began recruiting activists to the cause of liberty. His tactics often involved anti-tax protests under the Liberty Tree, a large elm across from Boylston Market. Tax collectors were hung in effigy, as they mocked the Crown-appointed governor. Adams also organized boycotts of British goods and town hall meetings at Faneuil Hall, packing the room with patriots so that Tory voices were not heard. Every new policy handed down by George III and the House of Commons was used to build the ranks of the Sons of Liberty. Even the most famous act of Whig defiance against the Crown -- the Boston Tea Party -- was not a spontaneous looting by angry taxpayers, but an operation carefully choreographed by Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty.
The British response to the antics of the Sons of Liberty inevitably helped galvanize public opposition to British control, and ultimately led to the gathering of the first Continental Congress at Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia.
Thirteen years and a successful war for independence later, the Founders codified their ideas for a government that would unite the thirteen colonies while protecting the freedom of its citizens. The Constitution delineated severe limits on government power, created checks and balances within the system to help maintain those limits, and outlined the rights of individuals that could not be infringed by the government. But the Founders were well aware that the freedoms delineated in the Constitution would only survive through the active participation of future generations – new Sons and Daughters of Liberty, people like today’s members of CSE.
PROTECTING THE FLAME: At Citizens for a Sound Economy, we believe that the American Revolution for independence and the ensuing battle to ratify the U.S. Constitution were not ends, but two extremely important and successful battles in the continuing fight for the freedoms, sovereignty, and property rights of individual Americans. The Founding Fathers lit the “sacred fire of liberty” that George Washington referred to in his first inaugural address, but they knew that it would only burn bright as long as committed citizens actively fought to protect the flame.
Building a sustainable grassroots army to fight for more individual freedom, less government, and lower taxes is the sole mission of CSE. We understand that this is not easy work. The radical left has worked longer and harder to “own the streets.” But it can be done. As the original Sons of Liberty demonstrated, freedom can overcome extraordinary odds armed with little more than the principles and passionate commitment of its defenders.
In truth, we have no choice but to fight. The battle has been joined. This Fourth of July, please join us in the fight.
THE SOLUTION: We need to build a powerful, countervailing citizen force that can go toe to toe against the labor unions, liberal “consumer” groups, and radical environmentalists. The ideas of liberty need the political power that can be produced by an organized group of Americans committed to our values, trained in effective mobilization skills, and organized to drive the policy agenda at the local, state, and federal levels.
That is who Citizens for a Sound Economy is, and it is what we do. We recruit, educate and train citizens to fight for their beliefs. And we are effective.
We believe that the only way to change the direction of public policy to reflect the core values of our Founding Fathers, our institution and our members is through an organized, national, and sustained grassroots presence across the country. This, not sound ideas, is how the organized left continues to win policy debates and thwart responsible reforms.
The Founding Fathers of our great nation always knew that republican government was a process that required the full participation of passionate and patriotic citizens. As Thomas Jefferson observed, “the People are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our Liberty.” The mission of CSE reflects this view, and on this Independence Day 2004, we rededicate ourselves to the mission of rebuilding American liberty.