The Morphing of the Tea PartyBy Lee Cary
The Tea Party movement morphed from protest signs to campaign signs.
That's how a Texas Tea Party activist succinctly put it when I asked him what's become of the movement. He said, "We put down our protest signs, and picked up campaign signs."
He said that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's victory lap after passing Obamacare was a "wake-up call." It signaled that mass demonstrations would not bring significant changes. Change would only come through the ballot box.
Hearing the call, the Tea Party vacated the town squares and hit the streets where it began organizing for the long-term.
It was always a grassroots phenomenon, so no territorial shift was required. And since it enjoyed little, or no, support from established GOP county structures, it didn't need to ask permission from the local GOP leadership, or accept its judgment as authoritative.
Consequently, the movement was largely a Greenfield project, unencumbered by any pre-existing cadre of party hacks, as it morphed from event-driven protests to election-driven activism focused on supporting like-minded candidates.
Today, the local independence of Tea Party organizations remains, but communication between Tea Party organizations has continued to expand, in scope and sophistication.
The absence of central planning is a key to its strength. Decentralization gives it operational flexibility, local ownership of decisions, and continuous learning as concepts are formally, and informally, shared between local organizations. It's a network.
When James Carville recently said that the Tea Party was over, he knew better. He merely signaled what the progressive left of the Democratic Party, which now controls the party's agenda, fears most. Progressives recognize that the Tea Party represents a more clear-and-present danger to their agenda than that posed by the go-along-to-get-along mentality within the GOP establishment, where politics as usual is usual.
Those holding the mindset of the old establishment Republican Party -- like, Obama's Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, soon-to-be-former U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, Bush 43 advisor Karl Rove, and others like them -- are not stupid. They know change is coming to the GOP. The question is: Will they (1) embrace it, (2) fight it, or (3) aim to co-opt and manipulate it? Options (2) and (3) will fail.
Meanwhile, the Tea Party doesn't need "political consultants" or "Republican strategists" to chart its course. Political gurus like Rove, and spin doctors like Carville, are anachronisms in the Tea Party world.
An August 1, 2012 Fort Worth Star Telegram article entitled "Tea Party gains steam with Cruz's victory," has this quote from a "Republican strategist":
One would have thought Mackowiak would have heard the "wake-up call" after the 2010 mid-term elections. Apparently not. By now, though, only the Republican dead are deaf to it.
In a broad context, the Tea Party is the reaction ,underway both within and without the Republican Party, to the progressive take-over of the Democratic Party. Its aim is to move the GOP away from the passive stance of pols like former Republican House Minority Leader Robert Michel (8th Cong. Dist., IL; and once Ray LaHood's boss), former Senator Bob Dole, and current Senator John McCain. The Republican Party of the future, if it's to have one, will move toward conservative Republicans who understand that the dogma of the progressive left doesn't recognize compromise as an option.
For progressives, compromise is not the art of politics; it's weakness. For them, the art of politics is defeat and subjugation of their political opposition. It's bloodless war.
So what are the current threats to the Tea Party? There are at least three:
1. The Anti-Tea Party Meme: The anti-Tea Party meme, a construct of liberals propagated by their shills in the legacy media, calls Tea Party people dangerous extremists. The accusation of a violent streak among Tea Party supporters is at the core of this meme.
The Tea Party has thoroughly debunked that charge with characteristically civil behavior.
Charges of racism against the movement also share the core of the anti-Tea Party meme. The media is still working to make that charge stick. But the disappearance of large Tea Party gatherings have taken away opportunities to display largely white-faced crowds as a sign of racism. Besides, liberals have cried "racism" so often and falsely that the charge has grown stale.
In short, the meme that, from its beginning, characterized the Tea Party population as old-angry-violent-white-people has been a bust. But we'll hear it all again as November nears, because, while the Tea Party morphed its identity, the anti-Tea Party meme didn't change. To use Carville's word, it's the meme, and not the Tea Party, that's "over."
2. The Threat of Widespread Voter Fraud in November: Tens of thousands of dead people will vote for Obama in Chicago. The question is: How widespread will be voter fraud on Election Day? Will it be enough to counteract the get-out-the-vote efforts of Tea Party organizations across the nation? Or, will the voter fraud efforts of the remnants of A.C.O.R.N., which has morphed from its former identity into multiple new identities, be enough to swing a close election to their candidate?
3. The Threat of a Manufactured Crisis: Rahm Emanuel once advised never letting a serious crisis go to waste. Is it beyond the realm of possibility that the Obama Administration will manufacture a crisis to their candidate's advantage shortly before the election?
Think that's tinfoil hat thinking? Maybe. But chew on this article from a periodical that focuses on current U.S. military thinking:
Small Wars Journal "publishes contributed work from across the spectrum of stakeholders in small wars. We look for articles from serious, authentic voices that add richness, breadth and depth to the dialog that too often occurs in cloistered venues."
So what sorts of contingencies are being discussed within the "cloistered venues" of the U.S. Army's intellectual elite?
Last July 25, the Small Wars Journal website posted an article entitled "Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A "Vision" of the Future." One co-author, Dr. Kevin Benson, a retired U.S. Army Colonel, is a seminar leader at the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The other co-author, Dr. Jennifer Weber, is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Kansas.
Their article notes the following:
But consider this description of a hypothetical situation called "The Scenario (2016)" that appears in the Army's report:
The description of the hypothetical crises continues. Does it sound familiar?
The U.S. Army's 2010 contingency plan for how to engage in "Full Spectrum Operations" -- in other words, how to make war -- within the U.S. borders against U.S. citizens uses a hypothetical situation where insurrectionists are "motivated by the goals of the 'tea party' movement."
Makes one wonder: Is the military already engaged in compiling intelligence on the Tea Party movement in anticipation of a potential insurrection? If that's happening, with whom is that "intelligence" being shared today?
And finally, just how big is the step between taking advantage of a crisis, like Rahm recommended, and creating one in order to grasp some advantage?
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