What started out as a ‘Grass Roots’ movement is low on steam.
By definition grass roots is: ‘ordinary people regarded as the main body of an organization’s membership. Therefore, the ‘main body’ of the Tea Party is a collection of ordinary people with a common interest.
So what is the common interest of the members of this Tea Party: government spending, or taxation, or a return to the Constitution, or seeing President Obama’s birth certificate, or maybe the elevation of Sarah Palin?
Which ever it is, it is clearly evident that even the members of this ‘grass roots’ movement aren’t sure which it is.
From the moment of the first demonstrations, Tax Day, Wednesday, April 15th, it was evident that the movement was destined to struggle!
People screaming of “no more taxation” when there hasn’t been any new taxes in more than 6 years. Some were adamant about government spending which was creating a deficit that was untenable, despite the fact that the Bush administration had more than doubled government debt in his 8 years in office.
But, any party that has Sarah Palin at the heart of it’s national agenda or platform is in serious trouble. Sarah referred to the Tea Party Movement as the ‘future’ of politics. But, contrary to what the Tea Partiers believe, there is no future for any group as fragmented as this movement is.
The Tea Partiers do have one thing right. This country is ripe for revolution. But their anger is misplaced and they’re attacking the wrong target.
As I stated in an article entitled “The MadHatter’s Tea Party,” written and submitted to the Los Angeles Times on Tax Day last year, the movement has no clear direction. Nor is it a ‘grass roots’ movement when it’s organized and supported by right wing lobby organizations and Fox Views.
Those who are pushing the Tea Party movement have become more ‘grass roots’ in their attempt to affect change. Several different factions have sprouted up in an attempt to keep their varied agendas moving forward.
In order to be ‘truly’ grass roots the Tea Party needs to shed organizations like Freedomworks, Human Events, and Fox. They must avoid the talking points these self-absorbed organizations use to manipulate the message and adopt platforms and an agenda of their own.
The newest agenda of some Tea Party organizations is to promote candidates for many elected positions on the local, state, and national level. Their intent, to replace incumbent elected officials, is admirable. There is a growing nationwide desire to clean up government by removing corporate bought partisan congressional representatives and replacing them with individuals who will work ‘for the people.’ The Tea Party thinks they have the solution!
A few of the small Tea Party leaders visualize their ideals as the seeds of a third National Party. But to many outside observers they appear to be the Libertarian Party without the clear focus.
There are some pretty smart people who have joined the movement, who have some good ideas, and a ‘real’ desire for positive change. They could help the Tea Party movement survive if their ideas and plans are embraced by the members. The big question—will their voices be heard above the din? Or will the crazies drown out the voices of the sane?
The recent Tea Party Convention was an attempt to bring Tea Party factions together. But it only served to further fracture the fragile movement. Despite attempts by the organizers to declare the event a success, the low attendance and late withdrawals of featured attendees was evidence of the struggles the embattled movement faces.
Convention organizers, Judson and Sherry Philips, founders of Tea Party Nation, had high hopes for the first National Tea Party Convention, but the event ran into early troubles over fees and payments to speakers.
The low attendance, estimated at about 600, the exodus of Representative’s Marsha Blackburn and Michelle Bachman, and the disjointed speech by ex-congressman Tom Tancredo were all signs of fractures within the movement.
As the keynote speaker they chose Sarah Palin, whom, reportedly, was paid over $100 thousand for her appearance. Those deeply committed to the movement are enamored by Palin who feigns the suggestion that she is their potential leader. Her bubbly, charismatic presence clearly energizes the Tea Party base, but her star is fading outside the movement as more people realize she has little substance in her convictions.
Her speech to around 1,000 people at the convention was a series of the same tired talking points. Rarely does she advance any issue with facts. Even her charisma will not get her beyond mere talking points.
And as Palin’s leader role runs out of steam, so, too, does the Tea Party movement. Unless someone rises with a clearer platform Tea Partier’s will begin to lose interest. And if things improve in the economy and unemployment, the passion for revolt will die.
Regardless of whether they survive or not, the Tea Party movement has proved one thing. It proves there is a strong and pervasive level of unrest throughout the nation. A stirring nation that has tired of politicians who no longer represent the interests of ‘the people’; career politicians who treat their constituents with utter disdain, no longer listening to their needs.
Unless the factions of the Tea Party coalesce their ideas, narrow their scope and message, find some dynamic leaders with vision, it will lose steam. But even in failure the movement will have left an indelible mark on the political landscape.
This country, if it is to survive, needs change.
And it needs it, NOW!