What happened? The Tea Parties have become or are becoming irrelevant. What do they have to do to win?
The first issue is to answer the question: “Win What”? The big rally in DC on Sept 12, 2009 was a massive protest against just about all things government. A friendly eclectic crowd of maybe a million ambled along in protest about President Obama’s poor handling of things but there was a small amount of push back against President Bush too. Fast foreword to Paul Ryan, -a sort of Ayn Rand Objectivist who passed out copies of her book: “Atlas Shrugged” to his staff who was John McCain’s Vice President pick for McCain’s Presidential Campaign up to Conservative Republican Rand Paul’s surging popularity. But where is the Tea Party Movement today? Mostly battling the dragons from the shadows. their issues are Smaller Government, Lower Budgets and Tax Cuts. (Snoring sounds). Ho Humm.
The Tea Parties have to be seen as fighting for something tangible. If they want to fight for a Republican Senate in 2014, fine. Step up and announce it. But there’s no one who can announce anything for “The Tea Party”. there is no actual Tea Party. There are organizations that speak to many of tea Party ideas but there’s no Leadership, no Common Goals, and as one pundit summarized: “The Tea Party exploded in early 2009, quickly establishing itself as a national force that could capture attention, harangue Democrats, and purge Republican officeholders it found insufficiently devoted to conservative orthodoxy.
This happened in large part because the Tea Party’s grassroots appeal to conservative Republicans was met with an opportunistic boost from elite Republicans who saw in the nascent movement a perfect vehicle through which to battle the Obama administration. As soon as the Tea Party appeared, groups like Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks—staffed by experienced Republican operatives and funded by the usual corporate coffers—swept in to offer training and organizational support. And as Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson write in their excellent new book, The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism, “the Tea Party cannot be understood without recognizing the mobilization provided by conservative media hosts who openly espouse and encourage the cause. From Fox News to right-wing radio jocks and bloggers, media impresarios have done a lot to create a sense of shared identity that lets otherwise scattered Tea Parties get together and feel part of something big and powerful. Media hosts also put out a steady diet of information and misinformation—including highly emotional claims—that keep Tea Party people in a constant state of anger and fear about the direction of the country and the doings of government officials.” But that’s a lot of feel good with no progress.
“The Tea Party didn’t stop the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and while it pushed deficit reduction to the top of the agenda, as of yet, it has not succeeded in dramatically reducing the size of government. The Tea Party is fundamentally a movement of opposition, all anger and resentment. It has shown itself quite clearly to have no interest in governing. And so, the Tea Party has a hard and fast expiration date: the first day of the next Republican presidency. On that day, it will become little more than a memory—one of a fascinating and significant episode in our political history, but a memory nonetheless.”
Resentment against government is not going away. It happens all around the world as we just saw in Ukraine. So despite the left wing critics, it’s not going away. But that doesn’t mean it’s effective.
To be effective it needs to take some simple steps. First, write letters to the newspapers. Imaging a squad of a half million Tea Party Types writing letters, e-mails and tweets to downsize government. Who should be targeted? Every government, every newspaper, every news show, every racial and sexual group, every religious institution, every actor and every actress, every movie studio and every neighbor. Next, it needs to demonstrate. No reason except laziness that a Tea Party Rally can’t go on in every major market at least twice a month. The Tea Party wins when everyone gets tired of hearing “the government takes too much, does too much to us and for us”. It’s not rocket science, is it? the new symbol of the Tea Party should be a postage stamp. Imagine the power of a million letters a month going to Congress, the President and the Supreme Court. A million postage stamps a month. So get moving before even more freedom becomes a memory.