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Where The Tea Party Movement Should Go From Here: Policy

February 9th, 2010 By: Michael Merritt
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Now that the National Tea Party Convention is over, where should the tea party movement go from here?  I could be completely wrong, but from what I’ve gleaned from the little actual news of the convention’s happenings I can find, it seemed like it was mostly about organizing, wack-a-doos, and red meat.  And while the first and third (and not so much the second) are good for rallying the support of your ideological base and attempting to get your favored politicians elected, those things do little to to get an agenda passed.

The trouble with many protest movements – and I’d consider the tea party movement, at least until the convention, to be one – is that they’re great for expressing what they don’t like.  Take the anti-war protesters of the Bush years.  They were against the War in Iraq (and some were against Afghanistan), but when it came time to discuss what to do about terrorism, they had few answers.  This is perhaps why protesting is a political activity that Americans tend to look down upon: they are seen as whiners.  In a nation of doers, we don’t like whiners.  We like people who get stuff done, and for the most part, those groups have not been protesters.

Now, I understand that tea partiers are not necessarily politicians, but they are certainly political actors, and supposedly have an idea of what kind of agenda they’d like to see for America, beyond “limited government” and “no universal health care.”  After all, I’ve seen the competing plans for health care written by the conservative think tanks.  It seems to me that the tea party movement is well situated to make their voice heard about these ideas.  By using their numbers to put a bug in the ear of their legislators the tea party movement has the opportunity to create the change they’d like to see.

It will take organizing.  Yes, the tea partiers must work together.  I understand the whole point behind the movement is a bottom-up approach, but that does not mean the citizens cannot band together to get things done.  It will be necessary because politics simply cannot be done effectively in any other way.  Interest groups, 527s, and other political organizations do it all the time.  Anyway, strength in numbers, right?

The next convention will happen in July.  This first one had breakout sessions, and I think that is exactly the kind of setting that would be perfect for debating where to go on policy.  I would urge the convention organizers to coordinate with people on the ground to create sessions that will allow attendees to find their common interests, and perhaps even start to get an agenda in order.  Then the attendees can go back home and bug their Congresspersons and Senators, state legislators, and local councilpeople to get those things passed.  If they don’t, those sessions about getting people registered to vote will provide the next step.

The tea party movement is quickly coming out of its infancy, and in order to move forward the activists will have to work together to actually get a conservative agenda passed in local, state, and federal legislatures. The tea party’s future will depend on whether its supporters can be doers rather than just whiners.

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  1. Jay_C

    February 9th, 2010 at 14:44

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    One thing they shouldn't do is become an established party (which I think is what they determined on their own). and 2, they should steer clear of having “leaders” or celebrity spokespersons. As much as this would on face make it appear to be part of the next logical step, in my opinion, it would be a disaster. This would give the left someone to “isolate” and atack and discredit, if that person or persons had any skelatons in their closet they would tarnish the credibility of the group. Or as Doomed says, do the old Alinsky trick.. If there is no leadership, then it is just a movement of like minded people… some of the fringe, like both parties, but the majority in the middle. There would not need to be an “agenda” because, you either get it, or you don't.

    Most Americans that like to keep as much money in their own pocket, and want a smaller government for all the right reasons (not just for its own sake) get it.

  2. Jay_C

    February 9th, 2010 at 14:44

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    So far, I think for the most taxpaying Americans get it. Now as far as organizing a message, that has already happened. Smaller governement, lower taxes, etc. The next thing they should work on is how to get through to the manistream media so they can get the ideas out on HOW to lower taxes, how to spend less and decrease the debt, and how to shrink government. If the Republicans embrace the *ideas* of the Tea Partiers (or dems), but I think it is more likely the Repubs will, then their parties can go ahead an use their message without damaging the source of the message, as the source will just be “the will of the people” not group or party XYZ. Right now, the tea party is making its message known clearly (in NJ, MA, and VA) at the voting booth, perhaps that is where it should just stay… If it aint broke…

  3. Doomed

    February 9th, 2010 at 13:47

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    You know…..forgot in all this is something that most of us have probably forgotten about.

    “The mission of OFA is to organize the grass roots, build the grass roots, to move forward in a way that promotes the President’s agenda”

    And this from

    “Organizing for America” (OFA) is a “grass roots” program (BarackObama.Com) sponsored by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

    It seems that its perfectly acceptable to organize the masses FOR THE DEMOCRATS………for OBAMA………the MSM is cheering them on……


    But heaven forbid……let the GOP have any kind of organizing effort and they are labeled whackos and terrorists. What coverage the MSM gave this event was put in the context of a national organization of gun toting, crazed and lunatic thugs.

  4. Michael_Merritt

    February 10th, 2010 at 03:26

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    I said that it was a good thing for the tea partiers to organize…in the third sentence. And I really wanted to refrain from describing a third of it as wack-a-doos, but when you invite birthers-in-chief Joseph Farrah and Orly Taitz to speak, then well, I found it hard not to include that.

    The birthers need to cut that crap out, and I thought the TPC organizers hardly needed to feed that particular troll.. As their truther companions on the left have been rightly told, year after year, it’s getting tiring.

  5. Michael_Merritt

    February 10th, 2010 at 03:40

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    Also in response to the one above.

    This was my point, actually. Not that the tea party movement become a party, but that they organize themselves to appeal to both the media and their legislators about what kind of policies they’d like to see in place. I’m not asking them to write legislation; that’s what the legislators are for. I’m saying they should figure out some policies they’d like to see, and then bug the media and legislators about them.

    Right now, the tea party is making its message known clearly (in NJ, MA, and VA) at the voting booth, perhaps that is where it should just stay

    That’s little better than a protest group. I think more needs to be done than having “get out to vote” drives if the tea partiers wish to remain relevant. organizes registers voters, too, but they also promote policies they’d like to see passed and send their message through the media.

    The tea party movement is well situated to do that. It requires some organization, but that needn’t mean that one person must direct it.

  6. Jay_C

    February 10th, 2010 at 03:54

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    Good point Michael, regarding the “get out to vote” drives, as well as staging a conservative type organization to promote policies they’d like to see passed . That is a definate area they should work on.

    The media will be the tough nut to crack, but that is where i think the movement as it stands now will help. THE tea parties are already forcing the media to bring issues to light such as the national debt, the displeasure with progressive healthcare reform, etc. (even though they are doing it reluctantly and snydely)

    Id’ also add that creating local “chapter” meetings to inform / provide a forum for debate to all those who are interested in conservative values wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Not necessarily to discuss politics and how to “win votes”, but more to discuss conservative principles and how they apply to the political world.

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