My Thoughts on the Tea Party Movement

The Tea Party movement is interesting to me.  The people involved seem to mostly be normal everyday people who are very concerned about the future.  I would say most of the folks have never before taken an interest in goverment until recently.  The groups are largly unorganized (the Dallas Tea Party group and the Ft. Worth 912 Group are probably exceptions, they both seem to have strong leaders and are pretty organized).  I was very annoyed at first with the technical skills of the people who seemed to be the ones at the center of the Allen tea party.  They didn’t seem to be comfortable using computers, or understand Internet ettiquite.   Also, their complaints and ideas for improvement included a long list of items that was impossible to agree with.

As time has passed, I actually appreciate the disorgainzed and decentralized nature of the movement.  It amazes me that the tea party folks have been able to achieve so much.  I am very encouraged to see common people so involved in government.  If this continues, I know the corruption that prevails in government will be decreased.  I think constant interest and involvement in political issues by common citizens is critical to our future.

I received the email below from one of the Dallas Tea Party coordinators.  It highlights the differences in opinion from people on both sides of the sepctrum.

… we got a little more ‘love’ from the Dallas Morning News–this time from the Editorial Board:

[I]f you aren’t at least a bit concerned over some of the things on display at the tea party, you aren’t thinking it through. Many of the demonstrators’ lurid signs bore insane and repugnant messages about Obama. Some utterings, as from the marcher who called the Constitution an extension of the Bible, are extreme. The anger among the marchers was worryingly inchoate.

The tea partiers’ main problem is lack of responsible leadership to bring focus, coherence and moderation to their movement. (TV conspiracy crackpot Glenn Beck is a sad choice for a movement guru.) It’s more ironic that former House big shot Dick Armey is a key organizer – and the current GOP is cynically fanning the flames – given that he was part of the Washington GOP establishment responsible for the big-government overreach the tea partiers claim to despise.

The tea party movement deserves to be taken seriously. But until and unless it finds a way to police its radical fringes – and articulate its critique in a constructive, rational way that appeals to the great middle – it will not be. And must not be, except as an example of how not to win allies or influence debate.

Some thoughts:

First, Dick Armey’s group FreedomWorks WAS heavily involved in promoting the 9-12 March on Washington event.  Dick Armey IS NOT a ‘key organizer’ of the Tea Party movement.  There is no ‘key organizer’–nor should there be.  The Tea Party movement is highly decentralized, which drives its enemies crazy with frustration.  Left without a target upon which to focus and tear down, the media sternly warns the great unwashed that ‘the movement will never succeed without a leader.’  In the meantime, the movement, apparently not knowing any better, continues to grow by leaps and bounds while chalking up one success after another.

Second, the Editors’ criticism of Glenn Beck would carry much more weight if the so-called ‘conspiracies’ Beck is presenting turned out to be false.  In reality, Glenn Beck is doing the investigative journalism that newspapers used to do before they apparently retired from the investigative journalism business.  On one story after another, the 19th- and 20th-century media outlets have been asleep at the wheel, and it’s been left to the 21st-century media to take up the slack.  Glenn Beck is no more a leader of the Tea Party movement than Dick Armey is.  Beck is, however, a source of useful information and analysis, most of it accurate, thoroughly researched and well-laid-out.  If the Editors of local newspapers have an interest in staying in business, they would do well to take notes.

Third, far from being ‘unfocused’, the Tea Parties and their brothers and sisters in parallel movements (e.g., 9-12 We Surround Them) have been EXTREMELY focused–much to the chagrin of the White House and its allies.  On Saturday, they were focused on the U.S. Capitol, in numbers at least several hundred thousand strong.  If the movement is so unfocused and ‘inchoate,’ how is it able to cause so much frustration for the elites who now control the entire legislative and executive apparatus of the federal government?  Van Jones is gone.  ACORN is being defunded.  The Health Care Bill is on life support.  The Cap-and-Trade energy tax bill may never again see the light of day.  Unicorns and rainbows are on indefinite backorder.  How did this happen?

Fourth, public opinion polling has consistently reflected that independent voters identify strongly with the Tea Parties and town hall protesters.  A Rasmussen poll released earlier this month indicated that fifty-nine percent of the American people believe town hall protesters are citizens accurately reflecting the concerns of their neighbors.

Finally, anyone with an agenda can identify the most exuberant in a group and find something objectionable.  In contrast to the left-wing rallies organized by the President’s ardent supporters, the objectionable content at a Tea Party rally is the EXCEPTION rather than the RULE.

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