The TEA Party movement has exploded onto the scene as an expression of frustration toward our government and elected officials by regular citizens. The TEA Party believes that their representatives are no longer listening to them. They see their representatives as kowtowing to the national political parties and special interests over their constituents. The TEA Party sees most politicians are concerned more about staying in office than protecting the rights of the people. They also view government as too large and becoming more and more intrusive into our personal lives. When you analyze their arguments and positions in the context of what is happening in Washington, DC, it is hard to find fault with their reasoning.
I have been working around the TEA Party movement for quite awhile and I have come to some conclusions that I’d like to share.
First, the survival of the TEA Party movement rests with their ability to understand the existing political structure. In doing so, they will develop the ability to work within the system when it is to their advantage and around it when it is not. It is also absolutely imperative they acquire the ability to adapt. No species in the history of the world has survived without the ability to adapt, and the TEA Parties are no different.
The concept behind the TEA Party movement has actually been around for several years. They really started to gain strength, momentum and recognition when the liberals of the hard left tried to discredit them by calling them extremists. The liberal main stream media joined in to try to give validity to the claim. Because the TEA Party is comprised of concerned Americans and not your usual political participants, these false charges have strengthened their resolve and increased their numbers. The recent race baiting from the leaders at the NAACP proves the growing political influence of the TEA Party movement. It also reflects the concern by the national Democrats that the TEA Party movement will hurt them in the midterm elections.
The rise of the influence of the Tea Parties is also linked to an increased awareness by the general public of just how deaf and out of touch our elected officials really are, especially those in Washington DC. Last year’s vote on healthcare galvanized this opinion when Obamacare was shoved down our throats. The TEA Party phenomenon is on the cusp of a revolt against what has turned into the most totalitarian government ever seen in these United States.
This President and his co-conspirators in both the House of Representatives and US Senate believe they know what is best for you. They are systematically removing individual choice and liberties in favor of their version of 1984 – or maybe Animal Farm. Remember, all pigs are created equal, but some pigs are more equal than others. The regime in Washington personifies the liberal elite. They believe they know more than us and if we disagree, it is because we are not capable of understanding.
.So, fast forward to the fall of 2009 and the huge outpouring of public sentiment against the country’s new “health care initiative.” The TEA Parties began to unite around that issue because it demonstrated the fact that their representatives just weren’t listening. The blatant disregard of the people’s will fueled a desire to try to take back control of their government..
The TEA Party got people on buses to go to DC to protest at the Capital several times. TEA Partiers traveled from the northeastern states to work on Scott Brown’s US Senate campaign in Massachusetts. All observers agree that the TEA Party played a significant role in Brown’s victory. Yet, despite their success, they continued going back to DC to try to convince our elected representatives to reject the trillion dollar healthcare initiative.
The TEA Party got also behind candidates like Rand Paul. They defeated a long time incumbent US Senator in Utah and elected a non-establishment candidate, Anna Little, to run against Frank Pallone in New Jersey.
Those victories, and they are victories, also illustrate the challenge to the TEA Party movement. Former Speaker, Tip O’Neil said it best: “All Politics is Local”. If the Tea Party movement is to really become a long term player they have to start getting involved locally and establish a base. The national attention has given them recognition and credibility, but without a base and the ability to use the system to their advantage, the TEA party cannot sustain their success
Arranging Tea Party rallies Washington, DC makes for impressive television (if the mainstream media chooses to cover it.) However, it is more effective if the TEA Party specifically rallies against the elected officials in their own state and district. It has to be personal.
Hundreds of thousands of people showed up in Washington protesting Obamacare and it still passed. Why? Was it because they did not hear the protestors? No! The Congressmen and Senators saw a sea of faceless, nameless protestors – mostly from the eastern portion of the country. A senator from Michigan could safely assume that the number of his constituents on the Mall was probably in the single digits. In other words, he felt no pressure to comply with their wishes.
The fundamental issue is actually very simple. If you want to change things in Washington, you have to change your representatives. That doesn’t happen in Washington. It happens at home.
Change starts by placing viable candidates on the ballot, helping them win primaries and then backing them solidly come November. Winning the primary is usually the most difficult phase of the process. Challenging the candidate who is hand-picked by the party machine is always an uphill battle.
The true test comes in challenger races when the TEA party candidate loses the primary. Due to pride and principle, the first reaction will be to run as an independent. Big mistake! If you can’t win a primary, what makes you think you can win the general? More important, the votes you take away from the challenger will most likely allow the incumbent to win re-election.
Cutting off your nose to spite your face is politically counterproductive. All you have done is made enemies and impeded the change you were seeking.
So, how does this get accomplished?
Part II: Next week.