Green Room

Beware of Tea Party free-riders and saboteurs, Right and Left

posted at 10:48 am on April 14, 2009 by

I admit it. I was a skeptic during the first round of tea party protests.

I didn’t think many people would come out; that the protests were a flash-in-the-pan, CNBC phenomenon pushed as part of the Ron Paul movement and lacking in broadbased support; and that the purported “attendees” on Facebook and elsewhere would be about as reliable as any other Facebook Event that didn’t promise free booze. I thought when the time came, few people would show up.

Boy, was I wrong. Attendence at the Parties was impressive, with strong non-Paulite contingents. When my parents started talking about tea party protests this past Easter weekend, I realized how big the Movement had become… and how important April 15 might be, both for the movement as well as for the national agenda.

What specifically makes April 15 important?

First there is, of course, the potentially “historic” nature of the event. The initial gatherings were not centrally planned and are, in fact, ongoing; the April 15 protests will probably consolidate these earlier successes into one day. Turnout is important, and it will be interesting to see how many supporters show up that didn’t attend the first time.

Second, the tea parties are reaching a point of maturity where organizers need to start crystalizing exactly what the movement wants, and how it intends to get there. Being “mad as hell” and going on an equivalent “Richhunt” isn’t going to cut it. Set some goals and an agenda that jive with the libertarian principles of the protest’s namesake. Tea partiers need to focus on the core, or else lose its identity to a mishmash of special interests.

It is these special interests, Right and Left, that pose the biggest threat to the movement. Contrary to what the Media Matters crowd might tell you,  the tea parties are a grassroots movement that’s picked up some power players along the way, and not the other way around. It’s the power players that need to be watched. The Founders didn’t forcefully disembark a ship full of tea because of gay marriage, abortion, God in schools, or anything beyond the right of self-determination and right to not be taxed without their interests represented, and if “sponsoring” organizations such as the American Family Association try to make “traditional values” a retrofitted part of the movement, God help us, the movement is going to devolve into a diluted, meandering ideological sideshow that does more harm than good to small-government interests. (AFA, unsurprisingly, doesn’t show up at the “sponsoring” link at the “tea party” website,a testament to how decentralized this grassroots movement seems to be.) 

Likewise, organizers need to keep watch for other, undesirable external groups showing up with their own message. “Nazis” have already been made a corrollary to the tea party’s “angry tax payers”, and you can bet that many groups are going to be trying to crash these events either as outright saboteurs or as, just simply, legitimate crazies. Hint hint. Don’t let these groups, fringe, Leftist, or otherwise, get their grubby hands on the movement and event.

I hope the tea parties are a great success because the underlying principles of small government are extremely important, but I hope organizers are vigilient enough about what they’ve created to set a coherent agenda consistent with the movement and be prepared to repel the unwelcome visitors, Right and Left, wanting to have their say — and in some cases, a final say — on whether the movement will endure, or live on as an example of what could have been, but wasn’t.

And remember: The smears against tea party participants and sympathizers aren’t just reserved to private sector actors. The Left dost protest too much, and for good reason… the political stakes are high.

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So give up? Don’t do anything? Just watch America go down in flames without a fight?

Somebody obviously didn’t bother to read my post.

I’ll say it again very simply, just for you.

We are very quickly running out of chances to change things through nonviolent means. Our public indoctrination centers schools, along with a heavily slanted media are shouting louder and unteaching truth faster than we can counteract them. Thus there are ever fewer people who even know something is wrong. Worse, we may be officially classified as ‘terrorists’ or mentally unstable for daring to protest before long. So if the Tea Parties aren’t our final big shot they’re likely one of the last.

Finally, change through violent means has less than a snowball’s chance. Our forefathers had several advantages we wouldn’t get and they won only by divine providence and the skin of their teeth.

Dark-Star on April 14, 2009 at 2:09 PM

Maybe a new political party will come out of all this with republicans, libertarians and conservative dems.

Maybe we could name it the TEA party…

Hendo on April 14, 2009 at 2:20 PM

It is fine for the organizers of each Tea Party to set the agenda for the Tea Party meeting tomorrow, but ultimately the people involved will set the agenda for the movement, if this continues to build into a movement.

Ordinary American on April 14, 2009 at 1:39 PM

Does it worry you that those disparate agendas, dictated by disparate groups, might very well turn out to be contradictory? Boosting creationism in public schools is a far cry from getting the government out of the Peoples’ lives.

Repurblican on April 14, 2009 at 1:50 PM

I don’t see the Tea Parties as the work of “disparate groups”, but rather as the work of individuals who at this point have many different reasons for their participation. Most people will have multiple concerns, many of which will overlap, but not all. I don’t think you can expect people to set aside issues that are important to them, whether it is small government or “creationism in public schools” (or the issue du jour pro or anti same sex marriage). Some issues will find broad consensus support across the country, other issues will have regional consensus support. Some will have no consensus support.

We need people putting out agenda suggestions (plural) for the future of our country (including a plan for how to get there) and see what ideas resonate with people. But I see that as separate from the Tea Parties.

I’ve only read a couple of your blogs, but it seems that you have some ideas about what you feel the agenda should be. I have some ideas as well, but if a significant number of people don’t share those ideas, it won’t make much difference.

Right now a number of political figures are trying to coopt the Tea Parties. I think the Tea Parties should remain grass roots events. I think the pot needs to simmer for a while before people will start to seriously think about the details of their concerns.

Ordinary American on April 14, 2009 at 2:25 PM

The Indianapolis group has an estimated 5 to 8 thousand to attend. The group also is NOT allowing any politician to speak at the event. Speakers are:

Founding Father “Thomas Paine”
(portrayed by Dr. Bob Basso)

Greg Garrison
Garrison Show – WIBC radio

Kim Tabor
Singing our National Anthem

The Wright Brothers Band
Performing a patriotic melody

Frank Anderson
Independence Caucus

Our message is:


And this message was sent to everyone on the email list and any emails from the group always ends with this message.

kthomas8268 on April 14, 2009 at 2:31 PM

Does it worry you that those disparate agendas, dictated by disparate groups, might very well turn out to be contradictory? Boosting creationism in public schools is a far cry from getting the government out of the Peoples’ lives.

Repurblican on April 14, 2009 at 1:50 PM

How so ? What if it is a segment of the american public that wants creationsism taught and not a governement agency.
Christians can and will advocate for whatever they want.
Even if it is taught at school it will not stop the teaching of evoultion.
I’m more worried about liberal provacators invading these tea partys and pretending to be (nazi’s racist) just to get on TV.
My guess is this is the only way CNN will cover this. Show some poser holding up a sign saying something very non pc.

kangjie on April 14, 2009 at 2:42 PM

Does it worry you that those disparate agendas, dictated by disparate groups, might very well turn out to be contradictory? Boosting creationism in public schools is a far cry from getting the government out of the Peoples’ lives.

Repurblican on April 14, 2009 at 1:50 PM

the Govt. is in people’s lives with Education policy as it currently exist, they force only one theory on lifes beginnings to be taught. Its not proven science, its a theory. The Origin of Speicies stuff is pretty Crackpotish itself.

not to say that microevolution isn’t actual science, but these are two very different subjects.

jp on April 14, 2009 at 3:12 PM

I’m taking an extra sign:
“Left Wing Plant: Be polite & Informed”

If we identify any trying to get damaging interviews, I’ll just politely follow them around with the sign. It could be fun.

michaelo on April 14, 2009 at 11:32 PM

SKYFOX on April 14, 2009 at 11:51 AM:
Shays’ Rebellion moved from civil actions to marching to an armory for powder and weapons and expecting that the newly formed state militia would join them. Instead Shays’ men were fired on and 4 died. Our civil disobedience should be the minimum of picketing the local offices of Senator and Reps. If congress still continues its spending, then it should be ratcheted up to peacefully occupying said offices. I would not want to see a Shays’ Rebellion II start, but it is a long time until the November 2010 elections and what do the people do when there is no other recourse when congress does not uphold its oath. Although a Rebellion would be classified as sedition, remember the Declaration of Independence’s words, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness”.

Take care and be safe.

amr on April 15, 2009 at 6:06 AM

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