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GOP Fails to Hijack Maine Tea Parties

State politicians in Maine tried and failed to co-opt the tea party demonstrations for their own purposes.

by
Andrew Ian Dodge

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April 18, 2009 - 12:00 am
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So my first tea party is over and its time to look back on what was achieved.

I think there are several ways of looking at the events nationwide. From what I have seen, there was none of the promised trouble from anti-tea party activists, though there were plenty of problems for those brave souls who volunteered to organize local events.

Things were not much easier for the state coordinators, some of whom were finding out about additional tea parties the evening before tax day. Even with all the new technology, we were faced with people who didn’t communicate, dodgy mobile phone reception, frozen and overfilled email accounts, hacked websites, and people who were trying to take over the day’s events for their own partisan aims.

It became obvious along the way that many of those who signed up to arrange events did not know the hassles and annoyances that come with this sort of endeavor. I was able to help people locally and nationally deal with some of the ins and outs of dealing with the media. (In fact, a few kind souls on a conference call took notes which can be found here. These might prove useful the next time you encounter journalists.)

We can all agree that the national effort was a cracking success. We should all be very proud. There were problems that could have been avoided if certain decisions had not been made at the national level. One of the major mistakes made by the national movement was the ill-conceived decision to accept the help of Newt Gingrich and his American Solutions organization. Gingrich is a very divisive and high-profile Republican. His entry into the movement marked the beginning of a campaign by Republican groups to take over and ruin the non-partisan cred.

This decision gave a cudgel to the mainstream media and those on the other side. National Republican attempts to sponsor the tea parties did not help either. The following was posted on a Maine forum after the announcement Newt Gingrich was on board.

Sounds like the perfect event for Republicans to gather together to lament the fact that they lost the election, and that the Democrats are running the country because the people elected them to do so. Also a good time to forget how the Rs under Bush spent like crazy, grew government, and left office with the country in a mess. Should be fun to watch all the teeth gnashing!

Gingrich’s attempt to co-opt the tea parties had the effect of creating an opening at the top. Previously there had be no pyramid, no organizational head. It also gave Republicans an excuse to “move in” on tea parties and it provided a reason for more fringe groups to have tea parties to “counter” alleged “control” over events.

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