by Phil Russo

There is a very important and interesting conversation taking place amongst tea party groups right now. It can sometimes be uncomfortable and awkward but we, as tea partiers, are not afraid to tackle big issues, right? The conversation I’m referring to is about civil liberties, how important they are, and their relationship to the Constitution.

When I wrote a blog post about the Times Square bomber and how he should have been read his rights I expected to be blasted by my fellow tea partiers – but I wasn’t. Most people agreed that John McCain was wrong.

I have also heard others talking about the Obama decision to assassinate American citizens and how unconstitutional it is. And, there’s plenty of talk about denying people on the “terrorist watch list” their second amendment rights even though they have not been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime. The progress being made on the right with respect to civil liberties is very encouraging.

Many tea partiers ask me how they can reach out to younger people like myself and I have been telling them that younger people are with us on economics; it is when we get to civil liberties that they look at the GOP and they see big government, Big Brother, unconstitutional hypocrites.

One of the reasons Ron Paul’s following was so young was for this exact reason. Young people don’t want higher taxes or bigger government. They believe in free markets. What they also don’t want are things like a national ID card, even if the Republicans say it is needed to “fight terrorism.” In fact, many young people don’t want to give up their constitutional rights for any reason.

I am with Patrick Henry, “I know not what course others may choose but as for me, give me liberty or give me death”! A lot of folks my age, who would vote Republican on economic issues, look at the constitution and don’t see anything about gay marriage. They see no power granted to Congress to create a Federal Reserve Bank. They see no power in the Constitution giving congress the power to regulate marriage. Similarly, they see no power there giving Congress the power to prohibit pot smoking.

There is a thick libertarian streak in the under-30 crowd and especially in the under-20 crowd. If we tell them that freedom means the government staying out of the economy, they rightly think that the government should also stay out of their homes, personal lives, and bedrooms. They also think that the bill of rights should apply to every American citizen regardless of the charges against them. This should make sense even to my post-40 tea party friends.

If we allow the government to assassinate an American citizen overseas the next step will be assassinating American citizens on our own soil. If we allow the government to assassinate American citizens accused of “terrorism” the next step is allowing them to assassinate anyone accused of being a “threat to national security.”

Imagine if Obama had decided to assassinate the members of the “Christian” militia that was busted a few months back. They were “terrorists” – they were going to use a bomb to kill a police officer and then set off more bombs along the funeral route. That’s a tactic straight out of Bin Laden’s playbook. Should these men be held without charge in Gitmo and tried before a military tribunal?

I obviously don’t speak for all young people, but I do talk politics with a lot of them. There are neo-cons that are under 30, less of them under 20, and they think that if you have brown skin and the government (that they claim to distrust so much) deems you are a terrorist, it is ok to suspend your constitutional rights for “national security.”

I find this particularly ironic since these neo-cons claim to hate socialism and collectivism so much but then they preach about the “greater good” which is textbook socialism talk. Giving up our constitutional rights in the interest of security is no different from the commies that used to say “better Red than dead.”

So to answer the question – how do you reach the younger people in this country? The answer is simple – if we really want to reach them we should continue this conversation about civil liberties and we should not shy away from it because it makes us “uncomfortable.”

When I think of my favorite Founding Fathers like Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and Thomas Jefferson, I see those men more in Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, Barry Goldwater, and Jim Demint than I do in George W Bush, John McCain, Eric Cantor and the others.

If we present young people with a consistent message of economic and personal liberty, and if we elect people who follow the constitution and repeal the tens of thousands of pages of laws that are unconstitutional, we will not have a problem turning young people to our side. That will happen naturally.

Phil Russo is a grassroots activist and co-host of the radio show, “Tea Party Patriots Live” which can be heard on Saturdays on 660 WORL in Orlando, FL. Visit his website at

Copyright © 2010 by Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given

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