Friday, December 24, 2010

Institute for Political Justice

We like to refer to our new initiative as Tea Party 2.0.

You may recall that the Tea Party Movement began as a kind of unformed populist tax and mortgage bailout revolt without any clear philosophical basis.

We tried to give the Asheville Tea Party some kind of ideological focus around the classical liberal principles of individual rights, limited government and free markets. Some other groups attempted the same thing and I think they have been the most successful. For the groups that adopted this strategy, this formulation has served them well.

We also altered the organizational to reflect a more project-oriented structure to refocus the group toward effective project management practices and distributed leadership.

However, I suspect that, for the movement overall, the tea party brand will not be sustainable for the long term and will fragment into an assortment of agenda-driven efforts. Some would be grassroots, some ideological, some exploited, some remaining philosophically unformed. And quite possibly all keeping the tea party name with no explicit criteria for involvement.

What we want to do is propose an organization that carries the tea party ideals forward with a clear ideological vision from the start as opposed to finding out a year later that your members don't agree with you on anything.

Our idea is to take one of the primary principles and make that principle the focus of an organization. Candidate principles might be: Liberty, Peace, Justice, Property, Self-Determination, and so on. Any principle chosen would be interpreted from a classical liberal point of view and any one would reflect the same libertarian perspective. Put differently, all roads lead to Rome.

We have decided to adopt the concept of Justice and place it in a political context. Our focus will be the promotion of Political Justice. Justice, simply put, means getting what you deserve. We believe that individuals have rights and deserve to have them protected in a variety of ways. In a political context, it means that governments are instituted for the sole purpose of acknowledging, respecting and protecting those rights. That is, a proper government in a free society is charged exclusively with the task of ensuring that individuals get what they deserve; which, in our view, is the protection of the rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.

The mission of a new organization focused on political justice would be to champion, promote and educate the public on this principle in the abstract and as applied in concrete cases. We will need an organizational structure designed to support this mission, a staff that understands our mission and funding resources to fulfill our mission.

We imagine similar organizations around the country taking the approach of leveraging our contacts, experiences and successes as tea parties to build a network of affiliated political organizations that have a set of explicit and shared goals.

This is a possible vision for advancing the promise of the Tea Party Movement by other means. I believe that politics follows culture and that to change politics in a meaningful way for the long term, we must start with cultural change. We hope that the Institute for Political Justice can become a model for effecting that kind of change.

Justice in a Free Society

A free society requires a limited government that enacts and enforces objective laws for the sole purpose of protecting individual rights. Also essential to a free society is a proper concept of Justice.

Justice, in short, means getting what you deserve. If you were to get what you do not deserve or to not get what you do deserve, it would be unjust and either you or someone else would suffer an injustice.

The question becomes: What do you deserve? -- as an individual and as a human being.

A squirrel deserves to gather nuts. An eagle deserves to fly. And the lion deserves to hunt. What does Man deserve, in general? -- and, in particular, what do you deserve?

Man is distinguishable from the animal kingdom by virtue of his reasoning mind, free will, self-consciousness and individuation.

Man deserves to be Man. Free to eat and breathe --yes. But also free to think and free to act. But what does that mean in a social context? It means the freedom to peaceably act in the world on your own rational judgement without interference.

Justice is "a concept that designates the act of judging a man’s character or actions exclusively on the basis of all the factual evidence available, and of evaluating it by means of an objective moral criterion?" -AR

Justice is the confluence of ethics and politics. It is where you in fact do what you ought to do and are judged as you ought to be judged. Justice is the concrete application of abstract principles. It is the concrete realization of what ought to be.

You, as a human being, and in a community of fellows, ought to be free to peaceably act on your own judgment -- alone or in concert. To do what is in your own best interest -- whether privately or in cooperation with others. You ought to be able to exploit the resources around you for your own ends. You ought to be able to trade freely with others, enter into binding contracts, and speak your mind without censure. You ought to be free from coercion, predation, force and fraud. And you ought to make life, productiveness, prosperity and happiness your goals.

In the event your peaceable, rightful pursuits are met with force and ill intent, you ought to have recourse to justice. In the private realm, in the economic realm and in the political realm.

The idea of political justice is grounded in the concept of Man's rights. First, that Man possesses individual rights and that those rights are inseparable from his nature. Second, that those rights must be protected by standardized and narrowly constructed legal customs and institutions.

The Institute for Political Justice is a research, education and advocacy organization that supports and promotes the application of justice in the political realm. Specifically, with respect to the recognition and protection of individual rights in a free society.


Liberty issues advocacy organization, funded by grant money. Focus on any/all issues where the government is infringing upon individual rights. List of issues would include many items which bring together people from across the political spectrum. (Ideal for Asheville.) Main focus would be organizing and hosting educational forums in Asheville. Opportunity to invite and host guest and expert speakers from around the country to address specific topics. Some issues that spring to mind:

  • Parental rights
  • Decriminalization of marijuana
  • Rights when confronted by law enforcement
  • Property rights/Imminent Domain abuse
  • Forced annexation
  • Rights during a state of emergency
  • Contract rights (same-sex, civil marriage)
  • Health freedom
  • Free speech rights
  • Rights when demonstrating/protesting
  • Homeschoolers’ rights
  • the list in endless...

In addition to hosting events, we would maintain a website and newsletter. Possibly a print publication of some kind.

Two-to-four salaried positions:

  • Executive director
  • Communications director
  • Events coordinator
  • Treasurer/CFO

Leased office space.

People I would like to have involved:

  • Erika Franzi
  • Tim Peck
  • Nancy Grace
  • Dan Eichenbaum
  • John Maltry
  • Betty Jackson
  • Will Vine
  • Robert Malt
  • Aaron Watkins

Art Pope: