The tea party movement is in danger of imploding.
Go re-read that first sentence again please.
The implosion is not because there is no momentum. It is not because there is no desire for more. It is not because of a lack of enthusiasm. To be clear, there is plenty of enthusiasm, plenty of desire for more, and plenty of momentum.
The tea party movement is in danger of implosion because like many truly grassroots movements, there are a host of competing egos and entities all claiming the title of "leader" and in the desire to be leader, they are not willing to work with each other. Some are using it to advance their own agendas. Some entities, which otherwise are known for nothing, have tried to claim the tea party movement as their own. Other groups, which do massively good work and just want to help, are being shut out by the so called grassroots leaders who want all the glory and are deeply suspicious of credible organizations willing to help.
The tea party movement was and is a truly organic movement. The moment the left started screaming that they were astroturf, however, some of the new organizers ran as far away from the professional organizations willing to help out as they possibly could. That was a mistake. As I mentioned, there are some organizations out to establish themselves on the backs of the tea party activists. But there are many established organizations that are simply willing to help out with forms, insurance, technology, etc.
At the same time, a number of the individuals involved in the movement have deemed themselves indispensable to the effort. No one is indispensable and those who think they are should be driven off the stage. The indispensable people are those who showed up to the protests, giving up hours on the job or time with families. And the so called leaders of the movement will fail the movement when they begin to think this effort is about them and not about the people and the passion.
I would suggest all the players sit down and see if they can get some focus. If not, the movement will be hijacked. It should not come to that when there is as much passion as there is. So what is my suggestion?
Stop having tea parties and launch a coup. Go below the fold to find out what I mean.What I am seeing, besides some rather embarrassing attempts at self-aggrandizement by some of the "leaders" of the movement is simply an effort to have more tea parties. That's going to get rather mundane after a while. And mostly these new tea party efforts are just efforts by a few organizations to fill their email files.
Instead, the tea party movement needs to go underground and launch a coup.
No, I'm not advocating a coup against the country. I'm advocating a coup against the Republican Party. And not so much an overthrowal as an infiltration and reform.
Raise your hand if you have been to a tea party. Now, raise your hand if you have been to a local Republican Party meeting. I bet those of you raising your hands to the former outnumber the latter. And that is the problem.
Real change comes not from throwing tea bags at the steps of city hall, but by accumulating political power to effect change. And it is extremely easy to do so at the local level. As a long time activist within the political party and now an elected Republican, I can assure you that very few people ever turn out for a Republican precinct meeting in most areas.
Those who turn out to the precinct meetings elect the precinct leaders. Then they go to the county meetings and elect the county leaders. Then they go to the state and elect the state leaders. Along the way, those people get to vet potential candidates, come up with positions for the party, etc. They accumulate influence and then power.
We are at a point in the calendar where most of the local Republican leadership has been put in place. But that actually is a good thing. It allows truly committed tea party activists to infiltrate, learn the business of the local party, make connections, and establish credibility. There will, as time goes on, be plenty of opportunities to get inserted into the party apparatus at the local level.
Now I know many tea party activists don't want to be considered Republicans. But it is time to get a clue: ballot access rules and the laws of the fifty states make it virtually impossible for a third party to ever get off the ground. Therefore, you are playing with the two parties that exist nationwide: the Dems and the GOP.
Between the two, the GOP is, at the grassroots level, more in tune with the tea party movement. And the way to get the national leadership to get back in tune with the local grassroots is to take over the local party apparatus.
It will take some time. But the tea parties are never going to be treated seriously long term unless the energy is harnessed toward the accumulation of power. The best way to do that is to infiltrate the GOP and start cleaning it up.
Likewise, the tea parties are going to go nowhere as long as there is a leadership vacuum caused by equally large competing egos. Keeping the passion alive with more tea parties is all well and good, but the people I saw turning out in Macon and Atlanta have jobs and families. They can't turn out every month to protest on the town square at noon. They can, however, involve themselves in their local precinct one evening a month.
The tea parties should not be about the people organizing them. The tea parties should be about the passion of people across America who want their country back. And the best way to get it back is to start acquiring political clout.
I am going to have more on this later because there are some tea party leaders, like Jenny Beth Martin in Atlanta, and others along with some organizations like Americans for Prosperity, who should be elevated because they fundamentally get it and care more about the cause than themselves. The good guys need to supported and I don't want to paint with so broad a brush as to label all the leaders and organizations within the tea party movement as bad.
The key point here is that everyone should put down the tea bags and show up at their next local GOP meeting and start freaking out the establishment by taking it over. Oh, and while you are at it, find out when your next town or city council meeting is, get a group together, and show up there.