For Lt. Col. Bill Connor, who's running for lieutenant governor, the answer is apparently "yes."
It's a pretty bold statement. I didn't speak to him personally, but Connor did not strike me as a frivolous person. And yet, speaking to the Myrtle Beach Tea Party on Thursday, Connor essentially described the efforts of his commander-in-chief as more dangerous than the enemy combatants he faced in war.
"Frankly, we right now are fighting for the guys who are overseas fighting for us. We really are. And the battle here - I hate to say - this battle is more important," he says (just before the 4-minute mark). "Because basically, everything they're fighting and dying for right now is lost if we lose it back home."
Even though Connor never precisely defines the oppressors he's waging battle against on behalf of liberty, my personal reaction is that there's a degree of hyperbole here. While I acknowledge that certain "freedoms" are indeed being restricted - maybe the freedom to draw the boundaries for your child's public school around your neighborhood alone, or the freedom to smoke inside McDonald's - I do not believe that our country faces a crisis of liberty that even remotely compares to that of colonial Americans.
Connor's statement does seem, however, a pretty apt expression of what The New York Times termed "a narrative of impending tyranny" that characterizes the Tea Parties. The Tea Party movement has, from my first experience with it last year in Chapin Park, struck me more as simply the conservative version of the Iraq War protests of several years ago - different only superficially in that the tea party crowds usually reflect conservative demographics of older, whiter people than go to war protests. (The "Bush lied" crowd had their own narrative of impending tyranny, too, I'd note - until their guy won.)
In that sense, the Tea Parties seem like a fine thing, an expression of our First Amendment rights to gather and even denounce our government. It's encouraging that it's no longer a tool of only one side. But, as with any gathering, you are sort of left wondering how much the crowd shares his exact sentiments, and how much is just the excitement of having someone to applaud for. And I also wonder how much more heated the national dialogue really needs to be.
Finally, I have to share video the evening's emcee, Mark Bennett, who frankly gave such a rousing opening statement that it caught me off guard (which is why I started recording a second late). If nothing else, watch it just because it's not often you hear such powerfully-delivered words at your local train depot.