Wednesday, April 14, 2010

An Attack on the Tea Parties from the Right?

I have some good news and some bad news. First the good news: 24% of U.S. voters now say they consider themselves a part of the Tea Party movement. That’s an eight-point increase from a month ago. More good news: 58% of Mainstream voters have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party movement.

The bad news is that now that the Tea Parties are more popular than ever, one important conservative is leaving the tea party movement.

Erick Erickson, editor of and CNN contributor, wrote today that he is giving up on the movement because it is being torn apart by attention-seeking pundits and public officials. Apparently no one told Erickson that the Tea Party movement was political.

Erick described a number of concerns on his blog. Here are a few of his thoughts:

  • The birthers decided to show and gave the media a chance to claim the birthers were involved in a grand conspiracy with the Klu Klux Klan...
  • The tea party movement, one year later, is descending into a self-parody of infighting, money making, claims of national leadership, protests, unions, federations, amalgamations, etc.
  • It is time to stop calling yourselves tea party activists and start calling yourselves concerned Americans.
  • [B]y continuing to call ourselves “tea party activists” instead of Americans we have made it easy for politicians and others who disagree with us to dismiss us.
  • I would like to say goodbye...I hope the activists on the street will leave with me.
  • We have moved beyond the time to protest.
  • I hope you’ll leave the tea party protests behind and engage in the process.
In the comments section of his blog, Erick dialed it back a little:
  • Go to the protests, but then get involved locally and nationally as an American, not as a tea party activist.
Perhaps I'm not immersed deeply enough in the Tea Party to see what Erick has described, but I certainly haven't gotten the same impression that he has gotten.

What I see, and what polls show, is a growing and popular movement full of enthusiastic political newcomers. And because of their generally optimistic atmosphere, I'm just as inclined to call Tea Party gatherings "rallies" as I am to call them "protests."

How did "Tea Party" become a dirty term for Erick Erickson? I wonder if he would advise conservative activists to stop calling themselves conservative or for Republican activists to stop calling themselves Republicans in order to avoid being "dismissed."

Dan Riehl makes some interesting observations:

Via Melissa Clouthier it seems Erick Erickson is moving beyond the Tea Party movement:

"Today, RedState’s Erick Erickson has decided to leave the Tea Party movement behind–to move beyond it. He alludes to the Tea Party movement disintegrating into sects like churches."

That doesn't bother me. But this condescending nonsense from Erick, excerpted below, sure does, especially as it triangulates one group of would be organizers, trainers and spokespersons, while linking to the one he seems to prefer. I say that, as he links to American Majority, complete with splash page, sign-up apparatus and whatever else. The best spokesperson for the Tea Party movement I've seen so far was Pam Stout. And she didn't need a federation, or a majority to speak her mind and reach a broad audience via Letterman's show...

If Erick wants to push American Majority, by all means, he should. But running down the Tea Party movement in the effort is as insulting, as it is dumb. We need to build up, not tear down. And if that means encouraging Tea Party people to also become involved at another level, as with this, or that group, fine. But, honestly - maligning the movement as he does, when it's actually operators like Erick who now seem intent on ripping it apart, or doing it in, crosses the line, even for someone I consider a friend.

It is also interesting to note that a number of the people who tweeted Erickson's Tea Party breakup letter (including Dana Loesch, Anita MonCrief, Ned Ryun, Brett Farley and Jessica Wood) are also involved with American Majority, which is offering "Post Party" Summits and other products for your "end of the Tea Party era" needs.

Riehl apparently holds Erick Erickson in high regard, and so do I. Erickson is a solid conservative who tirelessly promotes conservative ideals and solidly conservative politicians. But by this notion that we have to choose between the Tea Party movement and other forms of political involvement is simply nonsensical.

I have recently blogged about my concern for the need for Tea Partiers to add to their repertoire of political skills and to get involved in this year's primary elections. But as many others (including Melissa Clouthier) have pointed out, it doesn’t have to be "either/or."

There are so many ways to make a difference. Many Tea Party organizations are doing many of these things. Most aren’t just showing up and complaining. Most are turning their words into action.

Do I think the time for the Tea Party is over? No. I’ll be at a Tea Party event this week and why not? It’s inspiring to be with like minded folks and to hear the stories of triumph. We need that.

I agree.

The Tea Parties are attracting new people. And as one of Erickson's readers notes, "...there is some appeal in protesting so that you can surround yourselves with people of like minds and know that you are not alone. Do we want to abondon that entirely?"

There appears to be some concern that Tea Partiers aren’t projecting a slick image. But let's remember that conservatives comprise a huge plurality of the electorate (about 40%). Inevitably, we're going to discover that many of those right-thinking people aren't particularly beautiful, sophisticated or erudite. Let’s encourage them to speak their minds and show their faces anyway.

Tea Partiers don’t need to get out of the way or "move on." They need to keep rolling.

Keep rolling through the primaries to help small-government fiscal conservatives win GOP nominations. Keep rolling through the general election to help the GOP take back Congress. Keep rolling afterward to hold the new leaders accountable.

Update (9.24.10):

Tea Party candidates defeated or drove out the establishment Republican candidate for Senate in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Florida, Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Alaska ... and now Delaware. Most of those insurgent challengers will be senators in January 2011...

Uhler and Erickson describe the power of the Tea Party movement as it cut a swath through the modern Republican Party.

Erick Erickson (9.22.10):

"Orrin Hatch Embraces His Future as a Scalp Collected by the Tea Party Movement... Time to train our sights on Orrin for a 2012 defeat. The Senate GOP will learn even if we have to defeat them all."

Good to have you back on board, Erick.

American Majority NC (9.24.10):

The Tea Party isn't a political party - it’s far more powerful. It's an idea whose time has come and terrifies ruling class.

Here we go again (11.30.10):

Defective” Tea Party Leaders?


Adding To The Tea Party Movement

American Majority: Have The Tea Parties Outlived Their Usefulness?

Discussion: Memeorandum


Bungalow Bill said...

I hope he's joining Mike Church's Patriot Beer Party, where major parties aren't allowed.

I know the tea parties this year in Southwest Missouri appear more like a who's who of the Seventh District. While we have tea party candidates, we have astroturf republicans like Billy Long.

tha malcontent said...

Those who laugh won't be laughing for long.
The solution? Send this message loud and long and clear to Washington, Springfield, Sacramento, Albany, or whatever your state capital is: Get the hell out of the way because here we come!

The Lonely Conservative said...

I'm with BB and the beer party! ha! As for the tea parties - they're made up of average Americans who know something's wrong. I've had my doubts about the centralization of the tea parties, but from what I've seen it's just a lot of Americans fed up with government encroaching on our liberties.

RightKlik said...

BB: Long is Wrong! Love the slogan.

TM: Our voices will be heard.

TLC: Thanks for stopping by. Love your blog.

I'm very pleased with what the Tea Parties have accomplished. I was particularly happy to learn about this:

Tea Party giving members of Congress big headaches…