Paul Jossey sat down and wrote a terrifically powerful and informative article that appeared in Politico – that’s right, POLITICO.
The only problem with it is that he sees the Tea Party movement from a “national organization” perspective. That is, large groups that have a single office (usually in the Washington, DC area) fundraise prolifically, and gain new members through mobilizing people to “make their voice heard” by signing petitions.
Grassroots Tea Party organizers are pretty well hip to that jive, and have been for years. Word spreads pretty quickly in Tea Party Land, which is why these organizations have dried up and blown away.
Many of the “dirty-fingernail” grassrooters look at that those big, noisy guys and just. work. harder. And the results over the last seven years have been nothing less that staggering. Over 900 elected offices have been picked up by Republicans in that time frame, and many – most! – of those victories can be traced back to liberty-loving volunteers. That fact alone disproves Jossey’s topline premise.
So, no; the Tea Party is not dead.
Nonetheless, this is an important read because Jossey names names and exposes some of the most frequently used techniques by these marketeers and for that, I am grateful.
As we watch the Republican Party tear itself to shreds over Donald Trump, perhaps it’s time to take note of another conservative political phenomenon that the GOP nominee has utterly eclipsed: the Tea Party. The Tea Party movement is pretty much dead now, but it didn’t die a natural death. It was murdered—and it was an inside job. In a half decade, the spontaneous uprising that shook official Washington degenerated into a form of pyramid scheme that transferred tens of millions of dollars from rural, poorer Southerners and Midwesterners to bicoastal political operatives.
What began as an organic, policy-driven grass-roots movement was drained of its vitality and resources by national political action committees that dunned the movement’s true believers endlessly for money to support its candidates and causes. The PACs used that money first to enrich themselves and their vendors and then deployed most of the rest to search for more “prospects.” In Tea Party world, that meant mostly older, technologically unsavvy people willing to divulge personal information through “petitions”—which only made them prey to further attempts to lighten their wallets for what they believed was a good cause. While the solicitations continue, the audience has greatly diminished because of a lack of policy results and changing political winds.
Jossey wraps his article, presciently:
The excesses of George W. Bush and Barak Obama created the ‘second’ Tea Party – named after the 1773 anti-tax revolt incited by Boston colonials – in 2009, when CNBC’s Rick Santelli extolled the virtues of reining in runaway government and touched a raw nerve. The Tea Party critique of government – the way it has grown, concerned with itself and its vested interests, and benefits the governed as only an afterthought – has never been more cogent. At its best, the Tea Party sought a return to the nation’s philosophical roots of government of the people, by the people and for the people. In sad irony, the Tea Party was hijacked by those who mirrored its critique of government: bloated, inefficient and looking out only for themselves.
If there is a Tea Party 3.0 it must unshackle itself and rise again as a grass-roots movement.
It’s almost as if he’s heard something…