Understanding The Tea Party

September 27, 2010 § 2 Comments

What does this short video remind you of?

It could be a bunch of climate/social justice organisers just like me. This one on the New York Times website is even more stark.

This piece in the National Journal on how the Tea Party organises itself gives a valuable insight. It focuses on the Tea Party Patriots and explains how the highly dispersed power structure has allowed the Tea Party to become such a political force. (Needless to say, it doesn’t mention the role of big money – the Koch Brothers, and the role of Glenn Beck and Fox News.)

Tea Baggers talk a lot about the unstoppable power of leaderless organisation – and they’re right. As we’ve seen with recent primaries, the Republican Party is not going to like a lot of what the Tea Party does, but there just isn’t anyone who they can call to stop it.

The empowerment anyone feels when they organise a rally and hundreds of people show up, or when they successfully elect a candidate – that feeling of empowerment is wonderful. It’s what gives people a feeling of control over their own lives, a sense that they matter in the grand scheme of things. I’m totally supportive of that, and it’s great to see so many people organising.

At the same time, it’s easy to dismiss Tea Party supporters because their political analysis is so weak. They are a classic case of people organising against their own self-interest, and for the interest of those who manipulate their actions of their own political gain.

So is the reason why Tea Party activists and supporters are so committed – and therefore successful, because they have claimed power over their own lives, and found ways of publicly experiencing that power – rather than their political understanding? Is the way in which Tea Party activists are organising more important for them than the issues that they’re organising on?

§ 2 Responses to Understanding The Tea Party

  • Jamie says:

    You say “a classic case of people organising against their own self-interest” but can you give me another example of where this has happened/is happening? The Fox agenda relies on exploiting naivety and appealing to emotions only; now that members of the Tea Party movement are inevitably beginning to look at actual policy, I’m not sure how long it can continue in its current guise. That’s the difference between the Bush years and now, and I’m not sure Fox et al have a plan for this bit.

  • cterkuile says:

    Thanks for that comment Jamie – I’m aware I used the word ‘classic’ too liberally there.. I was referring to the idea that the poor don’t want the elite ultra-rich to be taxed fairly because they hold hopes of one day being one of the elite.

    Will be interesting to see where it goes – though I’m not yet convinced we won’t see President Palin in 2012…

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