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How Drama Queens Sabotage the Tea Party

Once I became more active, started my own Tea Party group, and began holding meetings, I quickly found myself on the receiving end of Backdahl’s inquisition. She contacted me, concerned about the name I had chosen for my group because it sounded too much like another which she disliked. On another occasion she questioned my choice of guest speaker, threatening to pull my event posting from the Minnesota Tea Party Patriots website if a Republican candidate was going to be present.

Such antics seemed particularly odd given a sentiment she had frequently expressed about keeping criticism constructive rather then Monday-morning quarterbacking or “effort bashing.” As it turned out, her prescription was for everyone but her. Her rabble-rousing was disproportionately directed toward friends and allies, including the national Tea Party Patriots organization. Eventually, she resigned from her position as state coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, citing its informal association with FreedomWorks’ Dick Armey as evidence of some undefined corruption.

Unfortunately, Backdahl’s anti-activism did not end there. As a group of Tea Party coordinators came together in the aftermath of her resignation to strategize next steps, Backdahl undermined our efforts with wild public accusations and empty threats to sue us for any perceived slight. Like a child in a tantrum before a nap, she flailed about violently until fading into obscurity. The rest of us overcame and formed a thriving coalition, in awe of the fact that our greatest hindrance had been our supposed ally and leader.

That was not the last we saw of anti-activism. One of our coalition’s founding coordinators was similarly inclined. He had a single issue -- judicial reform -- which he deemed the end all and be all of the movement. In spite of the fact that we largely agreed with him on the issue, the fact that we disagreed on strategy led him to regard many of us as the enemy. For example, he wanted to make non-consensual audio recordings of meetings with legislators. The rest of us thought that was inappropriate and counter-productive. After all, accomplishing something politically depends upon building relationships, and taping someone without their consent does not foster goodwill. But our wire-wearing anti-activist would have none of it. We eventually had to disassociate from him, and almost lost our coalition in the process, a cost he would have comfortably inflicted. The movement be damned.