While reading Politico the yesterday, I was surprised to find an article about a schism that has taken place within the Coffee Party USA camp founded by Annabel Park. And here I thought the Astroturf USA’s cup had run dry; guess I was wrong. You can view the schism article here. It is today’s article about yesterday’s article that just made me shake my head and confirmed my belief that the progressives still don’t understand what has made the Tea Party what it is today. However, what really caught my eye were some of the responses by Eric Byler to the airing of Astroturf USA’s dirty laundry:
1) There is a lack of actual democracy within the organization. In a democratic organization, one person does not have the power to dissolve Boards, Interim or not. In a democratic organization, all votes (and all people) count equally. This is not the case within the CPM. We have had multiple experiences of having completed a task that we were asked to do, and then having all our work undone, because the founder of the Coffee Party did not approve of the outcome. It is our understanding that this experience is not limited to members of the Interim Board.
Here is one of the biggest differences between the Tea Party and Astroturf USA – a overseeing managing board. Don’t get me wrong, there are groups running around the country who appear on Fox News that try to say they are part of some national Tea Party organization, but in no way shape or form does any of those self-appointing national groups control or dictate to the individual Tea Parties what to do or say. Each local Tea Party is autonomous from other groups, but are connected via common principles.
2) There is a lack of actual civility toward the Interim Board, as well as toward the Managing Director, David Overcash. We have been sent emails from our founder calling us timid bureaucrats, sexist jerks, out of touch with the people, fearful, intimidated, unable to understand the historic importance of the moment…etc.…
Again with the hierarchy. In Byler’s first point and in his second point, Astroturf USA shows how orders seem to come down from on high. How does that reflect democracy in his first point? In addition, we have two references in Byler’s first two points here about “the founder”. The Tea Parties sprang up from the grassroots. As a Tea Party leader in Central Illinois, I never once have received a call or email from some corporate office or some national board with marching orders let alone with marching orders from “the founder”. The other Tea Party leaders in my area and outside my area have not received those calls or emails either. Not sure what about the Astroturf USA is of historic importance other than its epic failure. The Tea Party is historic because of it’s autonomous and decentralized nature allowed it to effect an election and helped drive the national discourse on government while serving as a defense against further government encroachment into our lives and our pocketbooks. The Astroturf USA was founded after the Tea Parties started taking off and was founded in response to our advances onto the national scene (to the lament of the MSM), into the national psyche (to the lament of progressives), and into the national parties (to the lament of the establishment and leadership) and failed to capture the “independent” voter or the citizens who feel our current direction has strayed from the 6 purposes of government spelled out in the Preamble to the Constitution.
3) There are no clear lines of authority in the Coffee Party. In a democratic organization, decisions made by the majority cannot simply be overridden or delayed, or undercut by one person.
Once again, we hear rumblings of being told what to do by a “majority”. It’s a movement, not a political party, and not a government – “majority rules” does not apply. The various Tea Parties in Illinois do not get together and then vote to do x, y, and z. We will from time to time get together, as we recently did, to share ideas and network, but nobody leaves the meetings saying that since the majority wanted to do this, we have to do that as well. The Tea Party is focused on common principles, but the diversity among the groups has allowed for each to stay autonomous and has for the most part prevented the Tea Party movement from being co-oped by either of the major parties or fringe elements. Last year’s primaries should show that anyone that doesn’t adhere to Tea Party goals will be replaced by someone who will….right ex. Sen. Bennett (and soon to be ex-Sen. Lugar)?
4) There is a proliferation of groups and people that are empowered to do the same work, without coordination, or even knowledge of each other. If the results from one group empowered to complete a task are not acceptable to Annabel, their work is discarded, and another group or person is given the responsibility, ad infinitum….
Astroturf USA is a progressive movement/organization, and they are complaining that they are being told what to do and that a higher power is dictating to them what they can or cannot do? These are the same people that adhere to a philosophy centered around the principles of a higher authority telling them what to do, how much to earn, and what they can or cannot do. No complaints about individual mandates from the federal government to buy health insurance though. So it’s ok when the Dear Leader uses the full force of the federal government to dictate their lives for them it’s ok, but when the Coffee Maker does it, it’s not? The world of the progressive must be something akin to Alice in Wonderland – up is down, left is right, east is west, contradictions and double standards be damned. It’s a mad, mad world.
5) Projects are authorized and positions offered and filled with no knowledge of the Interim Board.This creates a situation where the Board is/may be responsible for assisting actions or funding projects that were never even discussed by/or put on the agenda of the Interim Board. This is fair neither to the Board nor the projects.
More central authority complaints, however funding is an issue. Most of the Tea Parties in Illinois do not have rich donors backing their local groups. Sorry MSM, no checks from News Corp or any other corporations. Many have funded their rallies out of pocket. Some try to do fundraising to cover costs of their rallies, meetings, etc., but no Tea Party group I have run into here in Illinois has much in the way of funds period. I believe this too is what makes the Tea Party movement special. We get things done without support of major donors and help campaigns in ways the state parties can’t or refuse to do. Just ask newly minted IL Reps. Joe Walsh and Bobby Schilling and newly minted IL State Sen. Sam McCain the influence and effect the Tea Parties have had. And none of these things were done with or without approval of some kind of Interim Board, managing board, or “the founder”.
6) The result of this pattern of organizational chaos has been to limit the effectiveness of our organization, as well as having led to the burn-out and departure of numerous earnest and hard- working individuals, many of whose names and contributions are not even known to those who joined us later. The lack of organizational coherence has limited our ability to work collectively, and taken much of the joy and camaraderie out of the work.
And here lies the problem with Astroturf USA – the mentality of the collective. The Tea Party is based on the power of the individual to change his or her township, city, party, state, etc. Our decentralized nature is our strength not our weakness, but the progressive mind cannot wrap itself around such concepts. Taking pride in what we can do as individuals promotes the camaraderie with other individuals as we share our experiences and work towards common goals – a government that is limited, fiscally responsible and utilizes the free market capitalist ideas that once made this country the envy of the world. Progressives have made a cottage industry out of destroying American exceptionalism and this is why Astroturf USA has failed to gain traction – not because of the ego of “the founder” or some schism in leadership.
The groundswell that took place after Rick Santelli’s rant that one fine morning is still going and still growing. I, like many others, were sitting on the couch watching that rant as it happened. I remember my girlfriend and I looking at each other and saying that Santelli is absolutely correct, let’s do a Tea Party rally. It fantastic that someone like Annabel Park can wake up one morning and be so frustrated at seeing the progressive world begin to topple and start a group and then try to foist that movement onto the main stage as the alternative to the Tea Party only to fail. Remember the old adage, “you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink”? A fake movement supporting a failed ideology is doomed from the get go. Haven’t heard much from the No Labels people lately either have you. People are looking at their federal government and how it is affected their lives. They see their schools failing, their taxes rising, companies being bought and bailed out at the taxpayer expense, the national debt exploding, their jobs leaving and America being the butt of jokes around the world. They wonder what went wrong. They’re tired of compassionate conservatives and those who promised hope and change. The Tea Party is made up of individuals who have come together to fight further erosion of our republic and to turn back the tide of progressivism restore confidence in ourselves and in our American exceptionalism. To do nothing is to admit that our grand experiment has failed. Astroturf USA was created to shore up the cracks in the progressive intent to further degrade our republic and way of life. They’re goal was to buttress progressivism against the relentless attack of the rising conservative wave who wants to cling to their money, guns and religion – the horror! The self appointed enlightened ones seem to be a bit dim when it comes to what America is feeling right now. To establish a movement/organization such as Astroturf USA based on progressive ideas, “the founder” and her followers fail to understand that more people right now identify themselves as conservative AND as independent and that the Tea Party, not Astroturf USA, is the home for them. Long live the Tea Parties, long live conservatism, long live America.