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The Trouble With the Tea Parties

Politics / US Politics Jul 19, 2010 - 06:17 AM GMT

By: LewRockwell


Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleBrian Wilson writes: Doesn’t look as if I’ll be invited to be the Featured Speaker at any more Tea Parties.

Not that I ever had been – but there was a time I was high on the TP Invite List as someone who knew a thing or three about Media Stuff and was willing to share with the Newly Interested at their "learning meet-ups." Many of those "cut-out" sessions were – and continue to be – quite good. Fresh faces, yearning to learn free all the things they were never taught (or forgot) about the Constitution, the vision of the Founding Dads as well other stuff they never knew about broadcast and print media, promotion, advertising and assorted "mass com" things.

So far, they have done much better with the former than the latter.

Thanks to the ego-plumping effects of Media Exposure and Reporter Fawning, many of the Tea Party Spokesmen-Who-Are-Not-Spokesmen-Because-We-Don’t-Have-Spokesmen have become as thin-skinned and self-centered as just about any politician running for re-election. After humble, emotional beginnings fueled by a resuscitated love of Country and the liberating effects of a little factual awareness of how government is eroding Rights, they have suffered the inflation of the ego that causes Blimp Envy, inevitably the predictable result of overexposure to media exposure and the subsequent public recognition it spawns. After 45 years in radio and/or TV in back of a mic or in front of a camera, I have yet to noodle out what it is about those electronic marvels that turn your average Joe or Jane into a Certified Political Pundit after just one or two interviews. Call it the "Joe the Plumber" Syndrome. One shot on national TV turned a struggling entrepreneurial-sometime-plumber into a Tea Party Icon ***** Headliner commanding private jets and hefty speaking fees. He even (ghost) wrote a book! Nice guy. Local. Lives out in the ‘burbs with his son.

But his basic cliché-festooned bon motes are received as pronunciations of Delphic Oracle proportions because he had a "Brush With Greatness": caught on camera with the Great He, complete with national news distribution. Joe has become more selective now about whose calls he returns, where he appears, for whom and for how much. Not just any Tea Party commands his presence and attention. Sean Hannity has him on Speed Dial now! Celebrity perks – gotta love ‘em! But I wonder how many profound insights have sprung forth from JtP that weren’t more eloquently, articulately and accurately expressed years and years earlier, right up to today by Walter Williams, Tom Sowell, James Bovard, Tom Woods and our own Lew Rockwell to name a few stellar examples?

Maybe I’m morphing into a low-brow elitist.

Since the Tea Party Movement began being cast by the MSM as the "Force To Be Reckoned With," many TP (non)-Leaders are reacting to the slightest criticism with a Rapid Response rivaling the Clinton War Room! On my talk show recently, after complimenting The Movement for all it has accomplished raising awareness on a national scale, I suggested the local TP chapters should get active dealing with local issues. Getting involved in your backyard is easier, less expensive and time consuming than yet another road trip to march around DC with spiffy signage, listening to some of my colleagues pounding on the podium, spouting the same old same old. It’s more productive, too. Curing highly contagious Neighborhood Apathy (16% voter turn-out here) would have immediate, positive repercussions with long-term benefits. And, unlike unseating long-entrenched US Senators and Congressman, a lot easier.

"Tim" was on Line 2. "Tim" was a Tea Party (non) Spokesman. "Tim" was not happy – but he had paid attention at the Media Relations meet-up I conducted so he began by telling me how I am "usually right on target" and he "agrees with me on just about everything." (Here comes the "But"): "But I’m tired of you ragging on the Tea Party all the time. We…(insert super-human accomplishments here) and we don’t… (insert self-serving rationalizations here) and you need to stop criticizing the Tea Party!" I asked how effective were 46 TP’ers picketing and posing for the TV cameras in front of OH 9th District Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur’s local office recently – when she wasn’t even in town – but not one TP member showed up for a public forum with County Commissioners to discuss changing the form of (pitiful) county government?

Crickets from Tim – but the emails were combustible.

This isn’t an isolated case. Tea Party people call often. Many times they have correctly isolated an issue negatively impacting Constitutional issues worthy of attention and discussion. Many times they are incensed when I have called out a disconnect between their professed affection and allegiance to the Constitution while (non) spokesmen speak positively and publicly to the media about a Candidate who just regaled the crowd with all the juicy parts of government wealth confiscation and redistribution to their unemployed friends. Where was the outrage?

Maybe it was hanging out on the blogs…

Writing after attending a Tea Party event in the DC area, James Bovard’s recent Christian Science Monitor piece generated a carpet bombing of scathing denouncements from TP proponents of free expression whose 1st Amendment affection was only exceeded by their masterful exercise of objective analysis. Maybe Jim’s line "Many "tea party" activists staunchly oppose big government, except when it is warring, wiretapping, or waterboarding." While MOA accurate, was Jim a tad too "free" for advocates of Freedom? As Jim noted, too many Tea Party people are conservatives pissed off at the GOP for not being conservative enough – at least on the issues conservatives deem important. If Constitutional concurrence can be firmly established, you win the Back Stage passes.

Responding to Tea Party audiences who say "We love Libertarian principles but we have to vote for Republicans because we can’t let the Democrats win," Ken Matesz, Ohio’s first Libertarian gubernatorial candidate since pterodactyls flew, wrote recently:

"This makes me wonder about the value of the tea party groups. If their only goal is to prevent Democrats from being elected, then why all the education? Why bother with learning the Constitution? Why bother circulating petitions for health-care amendments? Why bother calling and writing to congressmen and senators? Why bother learning more about free-market economics? Why study the founders and our founding principles? If the solution lies in electing Republicans, then there is no more you need to know. Just show up and vote Republican and all will be well."

I read Ken’s comments on the air. The phone lines should be repaired by next Tuesday.

And so it goes: Child-like in its innocence and energy; childish is its conduct and response to constructive criticism. If the Tea Party insists on eschewing "leaders," maybe it would be open to a few adults.

In a letter to Liberty Magazine, Joe Martino wrote: "At present, the strategy of the Tea Party movement is not revolution per se, but getting sympathetic candidates through the nomination process in the major parties. The movement has had only mixed success in the primaries so far in 2010, but since it’s less than two years old, perhaps not much more could have been expected… Unless the Tea Party movement is prepared to put lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the line, it will end up as nothing but a cathartic venting of anger. Ultimately the Tea Partiers – and those who agree with them but don’t actually go out and protest – must make it clear to the clowns in Washington that civil disobedience (or worse) lies at the end of the road those clowns are dragging us down. The issue is not that the Tea Partiers want a revolution; the issue is that the government must be made to believe that a revolution is what they will get if they don’t stop encroaching on our freedoms. More than that, the clowns must be made to realize that if they don’t undo their encroachments, they will get a revolution."

In response, Jay Fisher wrote: "If the Tea Party members decide to remain outside the traditional party model and serve as a barometer of public attitude instead, it runs the risk of creating a schism between those who advocate taking part in "politics as is" to create change and those who advocate for more profound action to influence politics. The most likely method the Tea Party can adopt to appease these conflicting interests is having both a political and an action wing, much like in Northern Ireland there existed both Sinn Fein and the I.R.A. However, the United States has no such political tradition to base this organization upon. Thus, the Tea Party entity still ends up trapped by its name."

There are many good things about the Tea Party Movement. As a result of their outreach efforts and publicity, more people than ever are actually thinking, talking, learning, asking and participating a tremendous nation-wide mass Awareness Raising Learning Experience. Many involved are actively involved, not sunshine patriots who think "maybe nationalized health care isn’t a swell idea" but they don’t know why. They pride themselves on being a "leaderless movement" that doesn’t endorse candidates, encouraging people to vote for whomever they like – even though the Tea Party really likes the most conservative Republican candidate in the race.

Pragmatically however, a "leaderless movement" may be way too similar to a "jobless recovery." What is to become of it? Can it sustain itself without fracturing into facets of partisanship? Can Tea Party adrenalin fuel the size, scope and long-term needs of the Revolution necessary to save the Republic? Can the TPM police itself to keep from being infiltrated – and subsequently marginalized – by the skullduggery of Manchurians From Other Wars?

Just as tough, draconian austerity programs are the unpopular prescriptions for saving Greece and the rest of the PIGS (and coming to America), it will be at least as difficult to deal with the entrenched power, prejudice and super-hubris of the Government-Media complex. With Aggressive Ignorance and Contagious Apathy at epidemic proportions among those who otherwise would be allies in the fight, to have dissention in the ranks of the Tea Party movement would be the cue for the band to play "The Party’s Over."

Brian Wilson [send him mail], nationally ignored talk show host and occasional LRC un-indicted co-contributor, is currently annoying miniscule audiences in a number of markets from his technically challenged studios safely outside the dictatorship of Toledo. Brian may be endured from 3p–6p at

© 2010 Copyright Brian Wilson - All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

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