As a founder of Cascade, I was asked to speak at the fourth annual Oregon Tax Day Tea Party, this year held on April 14 in Clackamas County. Some 400 activists attended what turned out to be the most inspiring event of its kind since the Tea Party began organizing in 2009. For a full description and video of the event, go to www.OregonTeaParty.org.
I told the audience a human story from when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. My friend Wall Street Journal editorial writer John Fund wrote about his encounter with four teenage girls while visiting East Berlin in 1984. As he prepared to board the train that would take him back to the West, John asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up.
“A schoolteacher, said one. A hairdresser, said another. A nurse, said the third. Only Monika, the oldest and clearly the wisest, hesitated. Finally, she sighed and said, ‘It doesn’t make any difference what we become when we grow up. We will still always be treated like children.’”
That statement made a profound impact on John. He noted how he could go anywhere in the world from that street corner, but these teenagers could not go 500 yards to see the bright lights of West Berlin.
They had to remain in “a semi-comfortable, but drab and kindergarten-like existence, in which independent thoughts were hidden from the government.”
John and Monika kept in touch over the next few years. Then, two days after the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, John’s phone rang.
There was the unmistakable sound of an overseas call. “This is Monika!” she shouted in halting English. “I am calling from Berlin West! I am over the Wall!”
Monika did not plan to flee East Germany. But now that the Wall was down, she could leave if the people who ran that government reneged on their promises of free elections and economic reforms.
John reminded Monika of their first meeting and asked if she felt she was finally being treated like a grownup.
“Yes,” she said. “I think everyone in my country decided for themselves to grow up overnight.”
I explained to the Tea Party audience that Monika knew what it was like to be treated like an adult by her government; but Americans are now being treated more like children, as the limited government our Founders gave us morphs into a behemoth. Activists like them must stand up and tear down the Walls of national programs like ObamaCare, and the Walls erected by local programs like “Smart Growth” that have overtaken Multnomah County and threaten to encroach into neighboring counties.
Many in the Tea Party audience were part of what is becoming known as the “Clackastani Rebellion” because of their efforts to defeat smart growth and light rail plans in cities like Damascus and throughout Clackamas County.
Cascade Policy Institute has helped educate Oregonians since 1991 about the benefits of freedom and liberty. We look forward to working even more closely with everyone who is committed to keeping our communities and our state from being encircled by our own, self-created Berlin Walls.