Last Tuesday, the tea party movement mustered thousands to head to D.C. to do a “mass-lobby” of the House of Representatives, as they did again this last Saturday. A report from the Tuesday “war room” tells of a spit-and-bailing-wire operation. The report concludes:
The tea party movement’s long term viability is likely dependent on people who can actually get volunteers to do more then just bring a flag to a rally. Even if attendance was small, its hard to refute the notion that they didn’t achieve anything, “people dropped what they were doing on a two or three day notice — the rally was only announced three or four days ago — and our whole effort only started ten days ago.” Even if the health care bill does become law, in other measures, the movement may still be enjoying limited success.
On Saturday, there was a “final push” against the bill. The “Code Red” campaign, run by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), had been a source of information on how the vote was going. Ultimately, the valiant effort to rally activists in order to to pressure the ObamaCare waverers failed.
But there are always complications in this sort of grand affair. The event on Saturday, dubbed “the People’s Surge,” was named ironically, at least if you follow the thinking of the left. There will no doubt be more surges by the tea party movement in D.C., trying to convince our elected representatives to stem the tide of socialism. Those on the receiving end of the multitude of phone calls, faxes, emails, and personal visits might not be terribly pleased with the attention.
Because of the small number of activists and limited time, many Republicans who might have had primary opponents either won’t, or will have only lackluster challenges. In some states, like Maine, divided efforts mean there are still places were Democrats are running with no opposition whatsoever.
The mad scramble to get candidates on the ballot has suffered greatly due to the chaos over health care. Fielding a candidate requires collecting signatures, in some states many thousands of signatures. Will the concentration on health care limit the impact the tea party movement will have in the elections?
Leading tea party activists are suffering from burnout and exhaustion. They are finding themselves unable to keep up the pace. Now that the House bill has passed, what will happen? Will the tea party movement lose faith and dissipate? Will the 9/12 rally in Washington this year be able to muster the enthusiasm it did last year? Will it inject a new sense of urgency in the tea party masses? One has to wonder if leading activists will be able to “keep it together” through November and beyond.
Beyond ObamaCare, there are other issues in the Obama agenda, such as cap and trade and amnesty for illegal immigrants. There are many battles left for the fiscally conservative, free-market, limited-government advocate.
Coming battles against ObamaCare will certainly drain the energy and the funds of the tea party movement. Instead of concentrating on getting their “type” of candidate on the ballot in their home states, those in the movement are making mad dashes to Washington and their state capitals to rally or lobby their representatives. I have been asked often where I thought the tea party movement would be in a year’s time. I frankly have no idea and doubt anyone else does.
The fight against ObamaCare is a landmark in the short history of the tea party movement. It could have a profound effect on the movement’s future. The tea party movement must realize effectiveness comes less from rallies and more from getting fiscal conservatives into office.