Sunday, February 07, 2010

"Leadership" for the Tea Party Movement

Glenn Greenwald argues that the Tea Party movement is not unprecedented, pointing to the anti-immigration rallies of a few years ago. I don't think that's a particularly good comparison, given that although their motivations were different the people who rallied against immigration reform were clear on one thing: they opposed immigration reform. I continue to believe that support for Ross Perot (or even the movement in support of candidate Obama) is a better example - there may be overlap, perhaps significant overlap, in what the movement's members believe they want, but there is no consensus either as to specific goals or how those goals might be achieved. (Greenwald could respond that his analogy is better because the Tea Party movement is founded on a set of ideas, and did not form around an individual seen as personifying its goals.)

Thus, as the Republican Party attempts to coopt the movement, there's a concerted (and necessary) effort to stay away from specifics.
Kimberly Fletcher, of the Abigail Adams Project strongly recommends that when trying to convince people to vote for the Tea Party candidates, they not discuss specific issues. She says, keep it general, like Scott Brown did. Discuss smaller government, lower taxes or putting Americans to work. I guess if they discuss specific issues like health care reform or admitting they want to do away with Social Security, they lose.
I don't think you have to go to the extreme of abolishing Social Security or privatizing Medicare before "they lose". As soon as you introduce any specifics you risk goring somebody's ox, and you risk waking up a mass movement to the fact that it is, and has always been, fractious. I don't think that the "don't talk specifics" approach is sustainable, particularly going into a national election, which is perhaps why there's such a strong, concerted effort to shape and control the movement from above. I don't expect that to work - at least not without significantly reducing the scale of the movement - but the chances are better than going into the election with a movement that recoils or divides with every specific policy proposal.

Already, as Greenwald points out, we are seeing the idea emerge that Palin is attempting to "hijack" the Tea Party movement. Yes, this is part of an ongoing, concerted effort to lead Tea Party members into believing that they're part of an anti-establishment movement while leading them to support the Palin/Cheney brand of Republican orthodoxy.


  1. To: Everyone

    Please sign the Tea Party Pledge

    and tell everyone you know to sign it. Thanks.


  2. Wow - he clearly didn't know where he was when he posted that . . .


  3. Actually, he's a pretty good example of what's going on - just at a smaller level. He wants people to go to his site, click ads, buy books through affiliate links, and make him money.

    Like Palin and her ilk, he's trying to turn a buck on the movement, just on a smaller scale.