As the nation and the tea party movement prepare for the new year, President Obama and the Democrats have been rushing forward legislation which will forever change the country and raise the deficit.
How far has the tea party movement come since the beginning of last year? A massive event occurred in Washington, D.C., on 9/12, and even greater numbers of people demonstrated all over the country to express their frustration. But ultimately, have they achieved any results? The bills have still gone through, and Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Obama have shucked aside criticisms.
Ignoring the (majority) public outcry, some legislators have gone so far as to ban tea party members from their offices under penalty of arrest. Most of the MSM, excluding Fox, has carried the Democrats’ water, portraying tea parties as a fringe movement at best and domestic terror breeding at worst.
Fox has covered the tea parties, though selectively — driving the ratings of Beck and Hannity and legitimizing non-grassroots groups like FreedomWorks and Tea Party Express. Fox’s coverage assisted the left’s portrayal of the tea parties as astroturf, and the GOP-tied groups made it very hard to claim the movement is non-partisan.
So now what?
What should the tea party movement be doing to make itself more effective and to not exist merely as an exploitable outlet for the frustrated?
Some are pushing the idea of a Perot-like third party to challenge the two major parties on all fronts. Others are desperately against such a move, concerned that the tea party movement will hurt the Republican Party and “cost” them victory in 2010. The tea parties have very limited time to affect the outcome of 2010, and the logistics of a national third party seem overwhelming.
Another approach — and one that seems more logical — is for tea parties to endorse candidates that adhere to their principles, whatever the party.
A state third party has been formed from the movement. Florida already has itself a registered tea party to challenge both parties, though it will be interesting to see if they are alone or one of many. Many states have very difficult, perhaps unreasonable, registration requirements for forming a third party.
Will the tea party movement be able to swing races? Their ranks do not lack for motivation and energy, but they may not possess the skills necessary to affect change in state politics. They also may lack money and an effective fundraising apparatus. They may be able to work with local candidates for 2010 primaries, however they will be hard-pressed to find brand new primary candidates to run between now and primary registration dates. This obviously depends on state law, but getting it sorted is a colossal task that takes coordination and great effort.
What may have affected the development of the activists is the fact that many seemed to have been suffering under the delusion that they were “reinventing” politics at the grassroots. Politics is politics, and even the tea party movement has been affected by egos, personality clashes, regionalism, and fakery.
The tea party movement may be best served by operating locally. Mass rallies in D.C. and phone-calling initiatives do not seem to be effective in modern politics. Local activism could have an actual effect, and is a good part of what the left has done to gain power.
The movement needs to be thinking about 2012 and beyond. They need to train themselves to effectively work in the political sphere that exists, not the fantasy one that has been created by the enthusiasm of the movement. Obama fooled millions with a promised “new dawn in politics.” The tea party movement must be wary of reality.
They have the drive and might; they need skills and patience. This year is pivotal for Republicans, Democrats, and politics in general, and the tea party movement has decisions to make regarding its direction.