What's in a Name?By Sally Zelikovsky
According to Salon.com, the South Florida Tea Party is changing its name to the "National Liberty Foundation" in an effort to rebrand its image and distance itself from any negative association with the Tea Party movement.
Some might think there is some sense to this -- after all, what tea partier hasn't been on the receiving end of a good friend or relative thrusting his hands up to cover his eyes, recoiling in disgust upon discovering that you -- someone he hitherto considered an intelligent, compassionate person -- is really a member of a racist, homophobic, uneducated, anti-government, extreme right-wing, radical tea party group? Isn't it better to cut your losses as a "Tea Party" and rebrand as something else with a different name? What's in a name anyway, especially one that has been so maligned as the Tea Party?
Well, not really. The Tea Party name is a brand and it stands for Taxed Enough Already, limited government, fiscal responsibility, a return to constitutional governance, individual liberty, and free markets.
The Tea Party name wasn't chosen on a whim. When Rick Santelli had his rant on the floor of the Stock Exchange it brought to mind our origins as a nation and the timeless principles for which average Americans have fought from time to time. Our brand has historical significance: tying the band of tea tossers in 1773 -- rebelling against taxation without representation and a distant, tyrannical government -- to those of us in 2009 rebelling against a bloated, out of control federal government, taxing us to the verge of tyranny.
Yes, the left wing in its entirety has tainted our brand. From the president to party leaders in Congress like Pelosi and Reid, to the unions and political action groups like moveon.org, to Hollywood stars, the media and academics, and yes, even the nice lady in my yoga class who is worried about sustainable development land grabs but cannot make the connection between these policies and the people she votes for -- all of them have demonized the tea party since its resurrection on the floor of the stock exchange.
What's really going on here, Florida? You gave us Allen West and Marco Rubio and had one of the strongest Tea Party coalitions in the country. I know you think you are simply rebranding and doing the enviable job of salvaging what you can from a stinging defeat. But you need to dig deeper. In effect, you are giving in to the left.
It's indisputable that the left falsely defined and therefore misbranded the Tea Party. But, if after 4 years, Tea Party leadership does an about face and abruptly claims that it cannot associate with the Tea Party name, the clear and only implication must be that it indeed stands for all of those horrible negatives like racism, radicalism, homophobia, etc. By changing your name, you acknowledge that there is something in the Tea Party from which you feel compelled to disassociate. Moreover, you abandon your principles, the ones for which you fought so hard these last 4 years.
Can you imagine Medea Benjamin and her Code Pinkers changing their name because they were criticized by conservatives? Or casting off their vagina costumes because they were ridiculed about them? Can you imagine Occupy Wall Street "rebranding" because their harsh stance against the rich alienated some people? Or dismantling their Obamavilles in Frank Ogawa Plaza or Zucchotti Park because of some drug or rape incident? Of course you can't, because they never would modify their behavior in response to conservative accusations or criticisms even though, in contrast to the left wing's Tea Party mischaracterizations, those accusations and criticisms were factual and not fabricated!
As proof that a group will change its name or rename an issue when it's doing something wrong, we need only look to the issue of "Global Warming" which was duly rebranded "Climate Change" as the evidence pointed to a cooling Earth and documents were discovered that falsified claims of a warming planet.
This seems to be a naïve, knee jerk reaction to disappointment on November 6th and probably some disagreement internally about what to do next, how to do it and whom to support. It is naïve because it falls right into the left-wing game plan. Is it any a surprise that the progressive press, punditry, and politicians would hurl all manner of invective at tea partiers, all of which are unfounded and downright offensive?
They've done so for a calculated reason: Alinksy 101. Identify your target, freeze it and ridicule it. This technique is utilized to vilify you in the eyes of the public -- make you so reprehensible that people will recoil at you and discount anything you have to say, no matter how salient and compelling. But it is also designed to discourage you, divide you and dismantle you. To eliminate the opposition. It looks as if some in the indomitable Tea Party have fallen right into the arms of the progressives.
We don't take our marching orders from the left. Just because the left brands us as racist, doesn't mean we dismantle our organizations and start another. To do so implies that there really is some truth to what they say -- that we are racists -- and why should we do that when we know it is not the case?
The best thing any Tea Party group can do is continue to exist and flourish, disseminate the Tea Party message, and become powerful enough to impact elections and policy. This will annoy the living hell out of them.
Yes, only 8% currently identify as tea partiers but that's just a snapshot in time. People will continue to seek out the Tea Party as they witness another 4 years of Obamanomics that don't work, Democrat policies that fail, and paychecks that shrink. And they will look for the Tea Party just as many of us did when we saw ObamaCare decimate our freedom and invade our pocketbooks. And they will search for the Tea Party just as we did when the Stimulus stole money from hardworking Americans to pay back Obama's union supporters and finance boondoggles like Solyndra. As the definition of "the rich" is further expanded to include most of the middle class, millions of Americans will wake up out of their zombie slumber and look for answers. The Tea Party will have those answers and must be there.
If the people who think abandoning the Tea Party name for a new, improved conservative one is necessary because of the snow job the press has done on the Tea Party, do they also believe that Mitt Romney was anti-woman, anti-dog, anti-average American and anti-the 47%?
The South Florida Tea Party is making a tactical error unless it no longer believes in free markets, limited government, fiscal responsibility, individual liberty, and lower taxes. By shedding the Tea Party name, it is lending credence to the left's lies about the Tea Party. The newfangled National Liberty Foundation might as well be in bed with the left or working hand-in-hand with progressive groups who aren't really interested in what's best for conservatism, but in weakening the power of the right in order to make room for more of the progressive agenda.
The South Florida Tea Party aka National Liberty Federation can't honestly expect the left to pat them on the back or treat them fairly in its press coverage simply because of a name change. Assuming the NLF continues to adhere to traditional Tea Party principles, the left will just tear them down until they disappear, are rendered impotent or, in the best of all possible worlds, join forces with them.
Don't think the left will turn a blind eye to your newfound name, your untainted moniker. The left will continue to characterize your group as it sees fit -- maligning, mocking and marginalizing your members until you fade away or rip each other apart.
You can change your name 100 times over and each time it will be like a Whack-A-Mole game, with the left smashing you on your principled head -- no matter where you pop up, under what name -- beating you down until they win.
"What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell so sweet."
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