Congresswoman Bachmann: Liberty and Tyranny is “intellectual foundation” of Tea Party.
“The time hath found us.”
— Thomas Paine
Common Sense, 1776
It’s the book that changed America.
And it isn’t often that a book — any book, even a popular, bestselling book like Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto — can be said to have changed the course of American politics and history. The phenomenon is rare, extremely rare, usually taking both the country and even the author by surprise.
Yet Levin’s book has done just that, saluted by Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in an exclusive talk with The American Spectator as “providing [the] intellectual balance and foundation” of the Tea Party movement. A movement that stands triumphant this week in the wake of the conservative landslide that Levin himself believes can revitalize the conservative cause that Ronald Reagan once led to the White House.
The results of the 2010 revolt against the Obama Era are staggering. The success of the Tea Party; the defeat of over 60 of Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats; the election of a half dozen U.S. senators, ten governors and almost 700 state legislators. What startles even more is that one campaign after another focused on the issues Levin featured in his book — the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, statism, the dangers of a powerful central government.
Campaigns “motivated and inspired” specifically, says Bachmann, by Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny..
Levin himself emerged as an unlikely rock star in the cause of the Constitution, the author literally besieged at book signings as thousands waited hours for a seconds-long meeting and signed copy. This video posted by a Levin fan of a book signing at Tysons Corner, Virginia, outside a rainy Washington, D.C., illustrates a fraction of the Liberty and Tyranny phenomenon that was sweeping the country.
Liberty and Tyranny’s red, white, and blue flag-and-flame cover bearing Levin’s bearded visage was waved aloft at Tea Party rallies. Bachmann marvels that “it’s difficult to educate a nation” but says Tea Partiers made a point to “take copies of the book to town hall meetings” to grill House and Senate members on their knowledge of the Constitution they had taken an oath to obey. The book’s cover itself appeared in poster form. One memorable photo captured former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin at a rally seated next to a soldier, the Levin book clearly visible in her lap. While the Palin photo was both real and un-staged, there was the inevitable humorous photo shopping. North Korea’s Communist dictator Kim Jong Il — aka “The Great Leader” — was pictured brandishing a copy of the book written by the man his friends and fans call “The Great One.” Another Liberty and Tyranny fan went to work mocking Obama’s famous 2008 campaign poster, replacing Obama’s image with an iconic rendering of Levin, the caption changed from “Hope and Change” to read simply: “The Great One.”
Inevitably, there was a bumper sticker with a simple message: Mark Levin: President 2012.
ALL OF WHICH IS TO SAY the Liberty and Tyranny phenomenon is that rarest of occurrences — a book that actually changes the course of America. While other books have gained fame and bestseller status, arguably what occurred with Levin’s book has happened only three times in all of American history.
Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, first published anonymously in January of 1776, was actually a pamphlet. In bold language (and treasonous language in the eyes of the British government), Paine set forth the idea that “many strong and striking reasons” demanded “an open and determined declaration of independence” by the thirteen British colonies. The response was astounding. In numbers that are remarkable even today, Common Sense is said to have sold 120,000 copies in the first three months, and half a million copies by year’s end, going through 25 printings on its way to becoming the most successful publication in American history up until that date — and not coincidentally providing the intellectual grounding for the American Revolution. The Declaration of Independence — the very idea ignited by Common Sense — was a historical fact less than seven months later, dramatically changing the course of America — and eventually the world — forever.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe was published in 1852. An anti-slavery novel, the book and its characters — Eliza the slave risking death to win her freedom and that of her child, Simon Legree, the slave master who became one of the most hated characters in fiction, and Uncle Tom, the gentle old slave who died as freedom was within his grasp — set off a firestorm of debate. Within ten months it had sold 300,000 copies and eventually over a million copies in the next seven years. It is credited by historians with launching the Civil War. “If Uncle Tom’s Cabin had not been written, Abraham Lincoln could not have been elected President of the United States,” remarked anti-slavery U.S. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts years later. The book is listed as the best selling novel of the entire 19th century, second only to the Bible in both sales and influence.
In 1960 Barry Goldwater, then a rising spokesman of the fledgling modern conservative movement as the U.S. Senator from Arizona, wrote The Conscience of a Conservative. The book, adapted from Goldwater’s speeches by Brent Bozell, an editor at William F. Buckley, Jr.’s National Review (and the father of today’s Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center), was an unexpected sensation. It explained what Goldwater called “the conservative philosophy” and “spelled out conservative principles in everyday language” — challenging head on the then-consensus view that the liberal agenda was a stellar political gift to mankind. Daring to ask questions that liberals of the day sought to portray as extremist and out of the mainstream — just as they still do today — the book had a first printing of a mere ten thousand. Eventually, it sold more than 4 million hardcover and paperback copies, helping to build the foundation for what became the modern conservative movement. It also helped Goldwater to the 1964 Republican presidential nomination while making possible Ronald Reagan’s 1980 election and the Reagan Revolution that followed.
When Mark Levin decided — in 2008 — that it was time to write a book about the importance of what he saw as “the modern liberal assault on Constitution-based values” no one, Levin included, could see what was coming.
LEVIN IS, FAMOUSLY, a considerable talk radio star, ranked number four in the nation with eight and a half million listeners. He is as well the longtime head of the conservative Landmark Legal Foundation. A former Reagan aide, Justice Department lawyer (serving as chief of staff to Reagan attorney general Edwin Meese III, among other positions in the government) and conservative activist who began his march on liberalism as a precocious 13-year old, Levin is no recent entry into discussions of law, politics, or conservative principles. His friend Rush Limbaugh calls him “F. Lee Levin” in humorous reference to the great trial lawyer, but the humor alludes to Levin’s significant legal abilities that doubtless played a role in his ability to write a book that has stirred such consequence.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?