Sarah Palin, the political huckster, comes to mind. She was suddenly “with” us, just like she had been “with” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) before. Palin helped hijack our purpose over time. Others clamored to get on the stage with their own special agendas, and they did. Eventually the Tea Party community would start to lose its shared focus.
How does a leaderless movement police its brand? We didn’t have a good answer for that.
Of course the rallies served a purpose, to get noticed and try to change the incentives of incumbent politicians accustomed to buying votes at the ballot box by bringing home the bacon. Now they were confronted with a tangible community of potential voters who were actually demanding less from government.
We wanted to turn the dismal politics of concentrated benefits and dispersed costs on its head, by incentivizing politicians to act in the common interest. Our agenda was common sense: We demanded that Washington politicians stop spending our money like it was theirs, and keep out of our health care. But in Washington, common sense is often seen as radical.