We ask the mineshaft: what went wrong with the Tea Party Movement?

Summary:   The Tea Party Movement began with such hope and enthusiasm, and evolved into GOP shock troops — in effect supporting what they opposed.  Such as bank-friendly policies.   We ask the mineshaft what went wrong?   {Aka ”ask the community”, from the German “Gemeinschaft”. See Wikipedia}

Posts on the FM website quickly and correctly forecast that the Tea Party Movement (TPM) would accomplish few of their goals.

  • Limited government?  No.  The government’s power continues to expand beyond those under the Constitution.  Illegal wars, shredding of basic civil liberties and protections, continued expansion of its reach.
  • Deficits?  No.  Continued massive deficits, voted though by bipartisan majorities.
  • Rollback of bank-friendly government? Nope.  The GOP and Democrats are the bankers best friends.

Instead they’ve become shock troops for the GOP.  Advancing its goals while providing an unpopular lighting rod for public dislike.

But a correct forecast results from logic; it’s only the beginning of wisdom.  Analysis can be correct but still superficial.  Let’s look deeper.

The TPM resulted from passionate concern by millions that America has taken a wrong turn (much like the Occupy Wall Street movement).  Unlike OWS’ street theater, the TPM built a serious and well-crafted political organization.  Local affiliates, with an emphasis on education and mobilization.  Classic work, textbook quality.

What went wrong?  Understanding why the TPM failed is necessary if we’re to build an effective reform movement.  We’re on the clock as the timer runs down on the Constitution.  We cannot afford large mistakes.

Please post your answer in the comments.

For more information about the Tea Party Movement

  1. Are the new “tea party” protests a grass roots rebellion or agitprop?, 1 March 2009
  2. The weak link in America’s political regime, 16 September 2009
  3. More examples of Americans waking up – should we rejoice?, 10 October 2009
  4. Does the Tea Party movement remind you of the movie “Meet John Doe”?, 27 January 2010
  5. The Tea Party movement develops a platform. It’s the Underpants Gnomes Business Plan!, 8 March 2010
  6. About the Tea Party Movement: who they are and what they believe, 19 March 2010
  7. The Tea Party Movement disproves my recommendation for the path to reforming America, 20 April 2010
  8. At last we see a Tea Party political platform, 13 May 2010
  9. Kinsley – “My Country, Tis of Me – There’s nothing patriotic about the Tea Party Patriots”, 15 May 2010
  10. Why has wild man Mark Williams become a top leader of the Tea Party movement?, 13 June 2010
  11. More people participating in politics: is this good for America?, 20 June 2010
  12. Obama scores again against the Constitution. The Tea Party is right about the battle, but AWOL., 28 September 2010
  13. Today’s tea party propaganda: the wonderfulness of slavery, 8 July 2011

30 thoughts on “We ask the mineshaft: what went wrong with the Tea Party Movement?”

  1. “Hope and Enthusiasm” was really Hypocrisy and Sociopathy with a healthy dash of Crypto-Racism.

    Evolved? Show me a Tea Partier, and I’ll show you someone with a 99% probability voted for that Rocket Scientist W. Twice. They can’t evolve. Degenerates can only degenerate.

  2. We spent time, treasure and every free moment outside of our Dayjobs (yes, we all work to survive at ICaucus) attempting to build Unity amongst like minded t.party/grassroots groups in CA. & many sections of the nation. TPP (Mark Meckler, Jenny Beth, Dawn Wildman tpp ldrshp) weren’t interested. Nor were most ego-centric driven groups that had “better idea’s” meaning..follow Me, I’M the leader. Just could not get over themselves to join in. Sad & Pathetic. Bottle line is: too many Chiefs with big ego’s and Personal agenda’s. Ugh.

  3. FM,

    A better question about the Tea Party is “what went right?”. It has been fairly well documented that the Tea Party was created by Republican party operatives with the intent of creating a larger and more durable Swift Boat movement. But the darned thing went viral, grew much quicker than expected, and momentarily escaped its creator.

    The Republicans were able to recapture it and return it to its original purpose but I doubt they are all that happy with their creation. Yes, they’ve now got an army of poorly informed but active drones to do their bidding, but this drone army requires constant maintenance and continually demands things. Do you think Santorum would be anything more than a has-been at this stage in the primary process without Tea Party support?

    They keep pushing the Republican party towards simple, intuitive solutions such as Austerity that are known to be bad for the economy and have a strong preference for candidates that are poorly equipped to lead the country. This is hollowing out the Republican party and turning it into a mockery of what it used to be.

    Your own research shows that Tea Party policies are unpopular with most Americans but the Tea Partiers, caught up in their own enthusiasm (and tone deaf to begin with) keep figuring that all they need is more purity of belief for the policies to succeed.

    The Tea Party will emasculate the Republicans from the inside if the Republicans do not abandon it. And the Republicans show no interest in abandoning it at this time. The Republicans have made a huge mistake in creating the Tea Party and, as a result, will eventually suffer a catastrophe similar to their defeat in 1932.

    A better question for the Mineshaft is how the Democrats can be renovated into an effective political party (instead of being the not-Republican party) so we can have some effective political leadership.

    1. >>> “A better question for the Mineshaft is how the Democrats can be renovated into an effective political party (instead of being the not-Republican party) so we can have some effective political leadership.”

      Yeah that *is* a good question. From my point of view, the Dems have become “Republican-Lite”, but the point still applies, so much that it hurts. Since I’m a bit of a cynic, I’d say the Democrats cannot be renovated. So instead, one of the two parties needs to lose so badly that it just plain dies, and is replaced by something better.

    2. If one political party dies (and I think the Democrats are much closer to dying than the Republicans) it will be virtually impossible to get a large sane party going in the current environment.

      And having the Republicans, with their huge organized media advantage, competing with a bunch of tiny wanna-bee parties would take us places I most profoundly do not want to go.

  4. WTF (unattended gmail)

    A “Song Of A Citizen” interview with JOSEPH McCORMICK at the Coffee Party Convention in Louisville, KY, 25 September 2010:

  5. What went wrong? Two words: Dick Armey. When people of his kind and their extremist organizations are so easily able to co opt a grass roots movement, the question become now what went wrong, but why.

    1. the main reason is disorganization. Nearly every faction of the movement had its own agenda, something like the OWS movement, There is no solidarity of purpose.

    2. Ignorance. Many of the original tea partiers were, and to a grreat extent, remain ignorant of who the real villains are. The ignorance was clearly evident in the single major irony of the health care pseudo-reform, when none of the older citizens recognized the irony of their own slogan: NO Socialized medicine, and KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY MEDICARE!

    When people don’t know the origin of a problem and don’t much care about any segment of the problem other than the one that they believe directly affects them, it is easy for someone like Armey to come in with a whole lot of disimformation and shout a few simplistic slogans and act patriotic and get the sheep herded into action , even when that actio is against their own best interests.

    Until citizens begin to rouse themselves fro, their own laziness and self-absorption and take the time to become informed, nothing will change significantly until there is no chance of changing anything without bloodshed. And this ennui is exactly what the neo fascisists like Armey and many in Congress and elsewhere in the administration are counting on. Indifference is the worst enemy of democracy. Ignorance is a result of indifference. Indifference is willful ignorance. Willful ignorance is stupidity, and as Judge Judy says, you can’t fix stupid. As a result, I don’t hold out much hope. for any kind of effective movement without a lot of blood.

  6. The Tea Party was never going anywhere because most are pure Red, White and Blue Patriots and that means pro- more defence spending. Like the OWS folks they want cuts to government spending but not on their priorities which should have more funds allocated to them.

    Against Obamacare but for Tricare.

    For liberty but also for Gitmo, the Patriot Act and the militarization of the police.

    The contradictions are too great for the Tea Party to be more than a temporary way for folks to vent without leaving trash behind.

    1. Personally, I wouldn’t call the members of the Tea Party “patriots” because so many of them are of the “USA! USA! We’re Number One!” mold (in the teeth of any and all evidence indicating that the United States is far from being number one and indeed falling fast on a variety of measures).

      Although they’re unhappy with and critical of many politicians — or more specifically, the Obama administration, since many of them were not nearly as critical of the Bush administration (if at all) — these are the same people who usually respond to any critique of the American culture with the sneering suggestion that the critic should go live someplace else.

      Let’s make one thing very clear — this is not patriotism, although people in the Tea Party are convinced that it is. This is nationalism, which is a very different animal. At least according to my lexicon, the patriot has a passionate love for his or her country but refuses to let the flag become a blindfold that prevents him or her from recognizing and attempting to draw attention to those areas in which the country is falling short and needs improvement. By contrast — much like someone in a family in which one member is suffering from an active addiction that the other members of the family are refusing to address (or even enabling) — the nationalist has taken pride in his or her country to such an unhealthy and dysfunctional extreme that they either refuse to acknowledge or minimize the problems which exist within the system and meet any attempts to address the problems with accusations of disloyalty and betrayal.

  7. The Tea Party achieved what OWS hasn’t, and that is getting actual candidates elected. By conventional measure it was a success at turning an undirected movement into actual political power. Of course, what happened to the Tea Party is the same thing that happened to Obama, really — corrupted by the system. Simply seduced the view-of-reality distorting Washington bubble. An elite few get invited into the inner-circle, and receive all the benefits of the insider trading deals and other stock scams available only to the Washington elites. They talk nice with the lobbyists and representatives of banks and others committed to keeping the big ball rolling, Then whatever original goals are compromised or lost.

    1. “The Tea Party achieved what OWS hasn’t, and that is getting actual candidates elected.”

      Right, but the converse also works. OWS affected the national dialog, increasing concern about inequality. But the Tea Party elected bank-friendly and deficit-loving congressmen, in direct opposition to their original goals. Electing opponents while becoming unpopular hardly equals success.

  8. WTF (unattended gmail)

    Part of the reason that the Right’s power has increased is that the Left, specifically the Left’s ability to deliver reforms (such as holding the Plutocracy in check), has been discredited. Some Thoughts on Integral Politics, the Introduction to Volume 8 of the Collected Works of Ken Wilber (Shambhala, 1999-2000), which covers The Marriage of Sense and Soul (1998) and One Taste (1999). It provides the necessary background to the essay “Dimensions of Integral Politics” by Greg Wilpert. excerpt:

    Theorists have long agreed that traditional liberalism is inherently self-contradictory, because it champions equality and freedom, and you can have one or the other of those, not both. I would put this contradiction as follows: Liberalism is itself the product of a whole series of interior stages of consciousness development—from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric—whereupon it turned around and denied the importance or even the existence of those interior levels of development! Liberalism, in championing only objective causation (i.e., flatland), denied the interior path that produced liberalism.[3] The liberal stance itself is the product of stages that it then denies—and there is the inherent contradiction of liberalism.

    Liberalism thus refused to make any “judgments” about the interiors of individuals—no stance is better than another!—and instead focused merely on finding ways to fix the exterior, economic, social institutions, and thus it completely abandoned the interiors (values, meanings, interior development) to the conservatives. The conservatives, on the other hand, fully embraced interior development—but only up to the mythic-membership stage, which is nonetheless healthy as far as it goes: a healthy version of a lower level. (Mythic-membership, civic virtue, the blue meme, the conventional/conformist stage of development—these are all normal, healthy, natural, necessary stages of human development, and this sturdy social structure is still the main base of traditional conservative politics.)[4]

    So here is the truly odd political choice that we are given today: a sick version of a higher level versus a healthy version of a lower level—liberalism versus conservatism.[5]

    The point is that a truly integrated Third Way would embrace a healthy version of the higher level—namely, rooted in the postconventional/ worldcentric waves of development, it would equally encourage both interior development and exterior development—the growth and development of consciousness and subjective wellbeing, as well as the growth and development of economic and material wellbeing. It would be, in other words, “all-level, all-quadrant.”

    Moreover, from this spacious vantage point, the prime directive of a genuine Third Way would be, not to try to get everybody to a particular level of consciousness (integral, pluralistic, liberal, or whatever), but to insure the health of the entire spiral of development at all of its levels and waves.

    1. Thank you for including the information about Ken Wilber. I don’t think I’m familiar with him (although the name is triggering a faint chime in my memory for some reason), but I’m definitely interested in learning more about what he has to say after reading the snippet you included. I very much like the description of the Third Way.

  9. Instead they’ve become shock troops for the GOP,

    Actually, FM, there’s really no “become” about it … it would probably be more accurate to say that even if they themselves have not been aware of it, they’ve been shock troops for the GOP since day one. One of the supporting pieces of evidence for this conclusion comes from the fact that there was no such thing as the Tea Party prior to the election of Obama (certainly not as the organized entity it is today), but the problems which face this country and which ostensibly have the Tea Party up in arms were either already in place or at least beginning to come to fruition long before Obama took office. So why weren’t these people more vocal before Obama was elected?

    When you employ Occam’s Razor, the simplest and therefore most probable answer you come up with is that the reason why they didn’t object was because many of them think “deficits don’t matter” as long as there’s a Republican in the White House (and in my response to the recent post which asked why the media continues to maintain the idea that the GOP is the party of fiscal responsibility despite evidence to the contrary, I explained why I think this double standard exists).

    A lot of Tea Party members claim to be Libertarians but the fact is that bona fide Libertarians would never tolerate or endorse some of the policies which many Tea Party members appear to tolerate or endorse…whereas Republicans have done and continue to do so. (It’s also not exactly a secret that many registered Republican voters became disenchanted with the GOP after 2006 and began calling themselves Libertarians in an attempt to distance themselves from the party’s growing stigma, although it would be more accurate to call them neo-Libertarians or even pseudo-Libertarians.)

    Part of what the Tea Party fails to understand is that the Republicans have managed to commandeer them simply by conveniently tailoring the increasingly unpopular neoconservative philosophy of the Bush administration so that it matched the declared agenda of the Tea Party (of course, all that does is demonstrate still further that the Republican Party is not really the “values party” since people who are truly committed to a code of ethics don’t change them merely in order to suit the current fashion).

    1. “FM, there’s really no “become” about it … it would probably be more accurate to say that even if they themselves have not been aware of it, they’ve been shock troops for the GOP since day one.”

      Great point! I was imprecise. More accurately, the TPM mobilized already committed elements of the GOP to become shock troops.

  10. Nothing “went wrong” with the Tea Party. They were always essentially the same crowd of hero yearners who turned out for George Wallace, St. Ronnie, and Ross “Let’s Run America Like a Business” Perot. As noted above, they typically voted for Bush the Lesser.BOTH TIMES, and then round about 2005-06 they flaunted their stupidity by complaining about him, as though his incompetence was some kind of revelation.

    It was always AT LEAST as unsurprising that the Tea Party gang got coopted by the Republicans. That had to be the biggest non-story of 2010.

    And whatever one might think about the Occupy crowd, it differs from the Tea Party clown show in this very significant way: Occupy people have been emphatic about keeping opportunistic Dems at arm’s length. The Occupy people understand that BOTH parties are completely bought by the oligarchs, and are therefore the enemy.

  11. Try to think back to when the Tea Party got its name. It started as Tea Baggers. Hilariously, Jon Stewart informed them about the sexual implications of that name and they decided to change it. Well…who was organizing them at that point? FoxNews. Don’t believe me? Go look at the tapes for Glen Beck and Sean Hannity. They were doing everything they could to bring media attention on the Tea Baggers. They even went to the initial rallies!

    Okay, the what happened? Well…the pundits at FoxNews certainly did not want Democrats in charge. They did everything in their power to tear down Democratic candidates. However, somewhere along the way they lost control of their monster. Tea Party members started going after some Republican candidates/incumbents with as much zeal as they went after Democratic ones. Rand Paul got a Senate seat, but Biden’s seat did not happen to be commandeered by a TP nutjob. That ‘started’ to wake up the Republican Party to the possible overstep they had made.

    Next came several attempts to destroy the country (by not extending the debt limit). To say that people started to have buyer’s remorse would be like saying that Gandhi had a little pigment in his skin. That didn’t stop the TP though. They doubled down, tripled down, then blew the entire process apart. Now the Republican Party has to deal with a situation where the term RINO (Republican in name only) has been coined. Never mind that any citizen–by law–can join either party regardless of his or her political preferences. The Tea Party has decided that they must root out all non-believers. The problem that the Republican Party is facing is that ‘non-believer’ includes anyone who is not exclusively and adamantly right-wing.

    Require all your members to be of one mind. That is a problem in a Democracy. In order to set up your party that way, you must exclude a lot of people. Those people may not join the other party, but they will no longer belong to yours. The Tea Party demands conformity. It is so adamant about conformity that anyone who could possibly run the country as the president can not run while the TP dictates the conditions. There is no compromise; there is no middle ground. The TP religion demands that all parishioners believe only the official doctrine. All heretics are to be purged.

    Well…you can do that…but, at least in this country…you won’t usually stay popular very long.

    1. WTF (unattended gmail)

      Hey Robert,

      Yes, the TP is a “reanimated” version of a medieval society, with its Mythic conformism, Inquisitions, etc. Please note that Absolutism reached its peak at the end of the feudal era, as Monarchial Imperialism, when politicians took over the church (Leonard Liggio http://phillysoc.org/liggiosa.htm ) using the “Concondats” (edicts from a corrupt Papacy) to destroy local wisdom, shared value committments, and representative institutions, such as the “Fueros” and “Cortes” in Aragon and Catalunya.

      Also see: “Beyond Conservatism: Reclaiming the Radical Roots of Libertarianism“, Keith Preston, American Revolutionary Vanguard — exerpt:

      … Rothbard observed the means by which socialism has, throughout the last century, been coopted by state-capitalism, mercantilism and imperialism, resulting in a type of fusionism whereby the apparatus of state-capitalism remains in place, but welded together with the appendage of the welfare state. This state-capitalist/state-socialist hybrid, the foundation of the political order of all modern nations, has met with resistance from traditionalist conservatives who, as Rothbard noted, are really, in their hearts, crypto-monarchists sympathetic to the Old Order. Ironically, this situation has placed conservatives in the same camp with their natural arch-enemies, the libertarians, on the matter of state-socialism. For this reason, some libertarians have tended to regard the conservatives as champions of their own cause.

      Nothing could be further from the truth. Since the beginning of the modern American Right-wing, the conservatives have tended to regard the libertarians as dangerous heretics, unwanted pests or, at best, useful idiots for the conservative agenda. Time and time again, libertarians who have aligned themselves with the Right have been stabbed in the back or, at the very least, come up on the short end. Early on in the history of the modern Right, libertarians were purged from the conservative intellectual leadership circle

  12. WTF (unattended gmail)

    Excerpt A: An Integral Age at the Leading Edge; Part III. The Nature of Revolutionary Social Transformation (page 1) — from Ken Wilber Online, undated.

    One of the easiest ways to get a sense of the important ideas that Marx was advancing is to look at more recent research (such as Lenski’s) on the relation of techno-economic modes of production (foraging, horticultural, herding, maritime, agrarian, industrial, informational) to cultural practices such as slavery, bride price, warfare, patrifocality, matrifocality, gender of prevailing deities, and so on. With frightening uniformity, similar techno-economic modes have similar probabilities of those cultural practices

    it appears that there is a crucially important (if partial) truth contained in Marx’s most famous statement about these facts, namely (to paraphrase): “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their reality but their economic-material realties that determine their consciousness.” That is, the Lower-Right quadrant (which includes the techno-economic base) clearly has a profound influence on the types of beliefs, feelings, ideas, and worldviews of men and women.

    But the fascinating point that Marx spotted was this: the technological innovation happens very fast (in the LR), simply because you can change the materials of production fairly quickly: put down your bow and arrow, pick up a hoe, dig a hole like this, put in the beans, watch. But the superstructure–the worldview, the cultural accoutrements of religion, meaning, beliefs, shared values, and so on (LL)–moves much more slowly, because this involves not just picking up a new piece of matter (in the Right-Hand world), but an interior subjective transformation of consciousness (in the Left Hand)–a notoriously slow and difficult process. Therefore, with almost any widespread technological innovation, the superstructure of values and beliefs now lags behind the transformations in the techno-economic base. In short, there is a disjuncture between LL and LR (between old superstructure and new base, between old paradigm and new realities, between old culture and new social system, between old meaning and new functional fit, between old semantics and new syntax). And that spells disaster.

  13. My take is that it wasn’t a grand construction of the republican party. It was initially made up of allot of republican mal contents and republican leaning people. It also had some good goals, they were simple, less Government, a lesser tax burden and dealing with illegal immigration(not that Latin America is the Mongol Hordes). It lost it’s focus though, it found itself in mission creep and thought that was the way ahead because it was being filled with nationalist and populist thought. Unfortunately, that stuff is pretty ingrained in American Society. Like the battered spouse it opened the doors to the republicans wanting to give them one more chance…Well, a leopard doesn’t change it’s spots.

    Some thoughts:
    1. It scared the establishment, it bucked the status qua by it’s initial goals combined with it’s energy.
    2. So,it had an effective media campaign against it..But, at first the media didn’t know how to deal with them, reporting on them was spotty. I first heard about them on my return from Iraq in the summer of 07…I’m in Kuwait and OWS was all of the head lines this fall.
    3. The Republicans saw it as exploitable…The democrats saw it as a threat and pulled their usual tricks out of the closet to discredit it…Sptting on legislatures, etc.
    4. Nothing was working as well as themselves unfortunately. It let Sarah Palin speak for them, it helped Michelle Bachman(spelling?) who was the cut from the cloth neocon…

    In summary, it lost it’s focus as the ranks grew and it courted the leopard. Same problem we have as a Nation, we abandon our principles. Also, remember, most Americans have been (for lack of better words) brainwashed into believing there is only two parties in this country.

    1. I do not believe much of this is accurate.

      (1) “It scared the establishment”

      Evidence? Your theory seems unlikely, IMO.

      (2) “So, it had an effective media campaign against it”

      I do not believe that is correct. The news media coverage was quite favorable for at least their first year. The general format of coverage was citizens in arms. Assesing the tone of media coverage is a subjective exercise, except when done analytically — for example, using words studies by Lexis.

      (3) “But, at first the media didn’t know how to deal with them, reporting on them was spotty. I first heard about them on my return from Iraq in the summer of 07”

      Your memory is not accurate (mine neither, but the articles on the FM website provide a database). The TP campaign opened on 19 February 2009 on CNBC with this broadcast by Rick Santelli (see a transcript here, posted by Freedom Eden). By the end of the first month it was receiving full coverage, appropriate given the small numbers involved.

      (4) “I’m in Kuwait and OWS was all of the head lines this fall.”

      The numbers involved om the OWS protests were far larger on average than at the TP demonstrations, which is the major factor driving news coverage.

      (5) “The democrats saw it as a threat and pulled their usual tricks out of the closet to discredit it. Sptting on legislatures”

      Do you have any evidence for this allegation? Don’t assume every story results from conspiracy. The incidents might have really happened. They might be the sort of rumors that any large event creates.

      (6) “most Americans have been (for lack of better words) brainwashed into believing there is only two parties in this country.”

      Evidence? I believe most Americans believe that there are only two powerful political parties, which is correct.

      1. (1) Fabius: “Your memory is not accurate (mine neither, but the articles on the FM website provide a database). The TP campaign opened on 19 February 2009 on CNBC with this broadcast by Rick Santelli (see a transcript here, posted by Freedom Eden). By the end of the first month it was receiving full coverage, appropriate given the small numbers involved.”

        No, my memory is a little off, but not that bad, Tea Parties were a home event (Which I didn’t bring up). From the Texas Tea part websiite, “Since I built this website in July of 2007 with many Tea Parties following thereafter” and there was the Boston Tea Party 2007, which was a fund raiser for Ron Paul. I read this as being the spark, “So while the modern Tea Party movement was certainly given more publicity and grew after the 2009 Santelli “rant”, it is clear that its seeds were planted by Ron Paul supporters back in 2007.” (Paulitifact) Though I don’t know how Ron Paul feels about it today.

        From this I say media coverage was spotty . Apparently, it was in it’s infancy in the spring of 07. A web search yields more references to 07. It wasn’t as organized, but was gaining force in the winter of 08.

        (2) “I do not believe that is correct. The news media coverage was quite favorable for at least their first year. The general format of coverage was citizens in arms. Assesing the tone of media coverage is a subjective exercise, except when done analytically …”

        Reason magazine on media coverage: “Tea Party March on DC Draws Somewhere between 2 million and 60,000 People. Go figure“, Nick Gillespie, 13 September 2009. However, it depends on your source, I agree it is subjective.

        (3) However the word “racism” has often showed up with them: “Are Tea Partiers Racist?“, Newsweek, 25 April 2010 — “A new study shows that the movement’s supporters are more likely to be racially resentful.”

        (5) “The democrats saw it as a threat and pulled their usual tricks out of the closet to discredit it. Sptting on legislatures”
        Do you have any evidence for this allegation? Don’t assume every story results from conspiracy. The incidents might have really happened. They might be the sort of rumors that any large event creates.

        ‘Tea party’ protesters accused of spitting on lawmaker, using slurs“, Washington Post, 20 March 2010.

        They offered a reward: “Tea Party groups offer $15k reward for spitting incident proof“, Illinois Review, 25 March 2010.

        The late Andrew Brietbart offered $100K…There was no proof. Jut some vague video. That was March 2010 about the time of the healthcare vote.

      2. theappalachianist,

        Thank you for your reply, but it does not make much sense to me.

        (1) Origin of the current Tea Party movement.

        (a) Yes, the tea party theme has been used throughout US history since the original in 1773. But the current movement started as a coherent protest with critical mass in Feb 2009.

        (b) You provided no support for your statement that “at first the media didn’t know how to deal with them, reporting on them was spotty.” The tea party events in 2007 received “spotty coverage” because they were small and spotty.

        (c) The Reason magazine article you cite shows only that most estimates of crowd size are worthless. It’s a commonplace problem with large events, and hardly proves bias. Worse, his comments are bogus. I wrote an analysis of this article, concluding:

        This is well-written agitprop, like so much written about the Tea Parties. In fact the posts cited by Gillespie provide no evidence that the DC rally was more than 75 thousand or so. He gives no source for the 1.2 million estimate.

        (3) “However the word “racism” has often showed up with them {news media}”

        As the very article you cite shows, racism often appears in descriptions of the TPM because legitimate studies show that its a factor. The news media reports those studies, as they should.

        (4) “The democrats saw it as a threat and pulled their usual tricks out of the closet to discredit it.”

        You offer no evidence to support your assertion that this was a “democrat’s trick”, and not just the sort of rumors produced by most large controversial events. Your citations just show that it was an unverified rumor, which is exactly what I said was likely.

  14. Friedersdorf: "Stop Romanticizing the Tea Party Movement"

    Stop Romanticizing the Tea Party Movement“, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, 6 April 2012 — “In theory, it stands for traditional virtues and against unchecked government. In practice, it elevates absurd charlatans that even GOP primary voters reject.” Excerpt:

    … Put that way, the Tea Party sounds indisputably sensible. Who’d argue against wisdom, reflectiveness, thrift, self-reliance, fidelity, piety, industry, responsibility, frugality, or industriousness? Most Tea Partiers to whom I’ve spoken would react warmly to all of those words. And yet. Do the politicians that the Tea Party elevates embody those qualities more than the various Republicans and Democrats who aren’t affiliated with the Tea Party movement?

    They do not.

    Says Continetti, “The Tea Party’s moral vision … explains why it has been reluctant to embrace Mitt Romney’s presidential candidacy.” He conveniently skips over naming the succession of candidates that the Tea Party has embraced. There is Sarah Palin, the unreflective Alaska governor who blew $150,000 on clothing during her VP run, quit her post in the middle of her term to become a reality television star, and isn’t anyone’s idea of reflective. There is Newt Gingrich, for whom thrift, responsibility, and frugality are not strong suits. Herman Cain stumbled on fidelity, while Rick Perry’s support would seem to cast doubt on Continetti’s assertion that Tea Partiers insist “the business of government is not to help anyone’s profit margin.”

    Perhaps the Tea Party doesn’t actually subscribe to the values that Continetti says. Or perhaps its adherents do, but tend to elevate politicians bereft of those qualities. Does it matter? Neither Mitch Daniels nor Jon Huntsman nor Tim Pawlenty nor Gary Johnson are perfect candidates, but the average Tea Partier prefers Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Donald Trump to all of them. This is not a movement to be trusted, regardless of its core values, because it has proved totally incapable of identifying some of the most obviously irresponsible charlatans in American life. (Remember Glenn Beck? Continetti once called the broadcaster one of the Tea Party’s two founders.)

    Near the end of his essay, Continetti invokes Thomas Jefferson, one of the few libertarians spoken about favorably in the pages of The Weekly Standard, to warn against concentrating too much power in Washington and extol the importance of checks and balances (lest we find ourselves oppressed). It is therefore worth noting that Rand Paul aside, the Tea Party has done almost nothing to protest the extraordinary expansion of executive power and brazen flouting of Madisonian checks and balances that have been instituted in bipartisan fashion since 9/11.

    More often, Tea Partiers are cheering them on.

    Talk isn’t nothing in politics. The fact that Tea Partiers tout traditional virtues and lament unchecked government suggests they earnestly embrace those things in the abstract. They’re mostly well-meaning. Some are effective in advancing their ends, too. But that doesn’t mean that the movement as a whole or the typical member inspires confidence, or is deserving of support. Often as not, their purported beliefs are often at odds with their actual influence on American life. And like the big-spending, civil-liberties violating Republican president most of them supported before becoming Tea Partiers, the baffling champions they choose just aren’t good at practicing what they preach.

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