Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sour Milk at the Tea Party

I couldn't help but chuckle with smug satisfaction at the disintegration of the Tea Party movement. It was a cynical movement built upon rage against the machine to begin with; but this latest fiasco will only hasten the demise of a wannabe social movement. Sure, there will be fragmented bursts of local Tea Party frenzy every now and then, but as for making it a national movement with legs? Forget about it. Now, every Teabagger associated with the movement (or at least the Tea Party Convention in question) -- and this includes Sarah Palin, whose exorbitant speaker fee is an outrage against the very sentiments of fiscal frugality and average-Joe accessibility that the Tea Party movement supposedly represents -- is forever tarnished by the fraud and controversy it has engendered. If I were a politician facing the wrath and ire of a Teabagger at a town hall meeting, I would patiently sit through the rants and then get up and ask if they would rather that I protect the public trust according to the example of the Tea Party Nation as reflected by the Tea Party Convention. And then I'd watch their veins pop as they try to explain how that Tea Party is not this Tea Party. And then I'd just smile and say: "Oh, really? ... Interesting ... Next question."


Eric said...

And yet among independant voters (the fastest growing voter demographic), the Tea Party, which doesn't even formally exist mind you, is more popular than the DNC or RNC. Write them off at your own risk.

andrew said...

Eric: Due to the internet such "non-parties" are actually going to get quite powerful in the coming years, what faltered with Ron Paul, matured and succeeded with Scott Brown. The next couple of decades are going to be quite interesting, and of course I'll be doing my part to feed the chaos a bit.

Movements like the Tea Party have me tickled pink because it seems suburbia finally woken up and denounced the idea that bread and circuses equate to being successful. A part of me is hoping things get worse in the next 5 years to get more and more Americans paying attention. Our government is only effective and just when its citizenry are willing to keep it in check.

Strife will break the stupor that most of us are living in.

Huck said...

Well, Eric and andrew - There is no doubt in my mind that as legitimate as the underlying motivations of Tea Partiers may be, the fact that the grass-roots movement was coopted and then exploited by the organizers of the Tea Party Convention will certainly do some damage to the sustainability of the movement. That's my point. Eric, I seem to recall that even you were hopeful that the Tea Party movement would gain some traction and institutionalization so as to maintain momentum and longevity. A disorganized mass of disillusioned and disaffected folks does not a coherent voice make. The scandalous Tea Party Convention has taken the wind out of the sails of converting grass roots Tea Party activism into something national, enduring, and substantive.

eric said...

"I seem to recall that even you were hopeful that the Tea Party movement would gain some traction and institutionalization so as to maintain momentum and longevity."

My hope and expectations for the Tea Party have always been that it would get a handful of conservatives/libertarians elected who had ideological intergrity. The people trying to co-opt the movement for power and money have done nothing to change these hope or expectation. If the Tea Party Convention somehow results in helping to get a serious small government fiscal conservative candidate elected to public office anywhere in the nation, then it will have been worth the scandal and strife.

Much like the social conservative/libertarian friction that has always existed in the GOP, the Tea Party movement is going to mean different things to different people and will be a fractious and tennuous proposition. I do not expect it to be a coherent movement a decade from now, but my hope is we will still see a rippling effect from what is being done around the country right now... sort of like how Goldwater gave birth to Reagan, I still see great potential for the Tea Party to remain a small movement that gives bith to a larger one.

eric said...

"A disorganized mass of disillusioned and disaffected folks does not a coherent voice make."

A few words about this comment, because I think you strike on something important. The Tea Party movement does not need a coherent voice to be effective. All it needs to do is convince conservatives with private sector day jobs to get involved in the political process at the local level. That's it. All the potential of this movement flows from there. All this talk about it being a sweeping national movement is a bunch of malarky... it is thousands of small-to-medium sized local movements uniting under the same banner. They aren't uniting under that banner in order to consolidate their power into a central national party, or even to invite politicians to come speak for them (the Oklahoma Tea Parties I've attended are very strict about not letting anyone take the mic who holds or is seeking a political office, even if they are in agreement with 90% of the people there). They are uniting under the Tea Party banner because they have nowhere else to stand if they want to get involved. It is an important distinction.