The Politico has an interesting article about the Tea Party groups dividing. Read the whole thing. I disagree with this conclusion:
The organizational chaos — combined with a widening apathy at the edges of the movement — has produced a growing consensus among local, state and national tea party leaders that for the movement to evolve from the loose conglomeration of fired-up activists who mobilized this summer to register their dissatisfaction with Obama and Congress at town hall protests and marches across the country into a sustainable bloc with the power to shape the GOP and swing elections, it will require the emergence of a national leader, group or structure.
Ned Ryun, president of American Majority, a nonprofit that has conducted organizer-training sessions for many tea party activists, said “the next three to six months” are going to be critical in determining “what’s going to happen with the tea party movement. Are they going to be a bunch of fingers, or are they going to come together to be a fist?”
The diagnosis is wrong. Why will someone have to be in charge? The movement has done fine and no one is in charge of the Tea Parties now. The national organizations could be best described as facilitators and supporters.
Do they want to be in charge of the Tea Party movement? I don’t even know. So I contacted Freedom Works to find out. Here’s what Press Secretary Adam Brandon said:
“FreedomWorks is looking to facilitate the Tea Party in any way that we can. We were never looking to own or control it. The focus needs to be on the issues at hand.”
And then, I contacted American’s For Prosperity Director of Membership and Online Strategy Erik Telford, who has been heavily involved with the Tea Party movement and asked him if AFP would like to be in charge of the Tea Party movement [Full Disclosure: AFP has sponsored me to go to some workshops and I won their 2009 Award for Online Excellence]. Erik said, “No, the Tea Parties are a grassroots, bottom-up movement. We feel privileged to be a part of it.”
Asking the “who’s in charge” questions about the Tea Party movement is to fundamentally misunderstand conservatives. Conservatives do not like being told what to do. The notion of subsuming self-interest for “the greater good” is anathema to them. That makes replicating the Borg-like work of ACORN and Moveon.org organizations nearly impossible on the right. When conservatives see a goal, they’ll take 50 roads to get there. The left will get on the Huffington Post highway and ride along together.
Because of the uniqueness of the conservative activists, there has been some jostling. Impassioned individuals, some with exotic backgrounds like paralegal or college student as examples, were thrust into the spotlight in their respective cities. No training. No experience. Boom! Life transformed in an instant by an internal feeling and desire to get the country going the right direction. Some of these patriots were unprepared for what it all meant. Others have grown and shone in their new-found roles.
And now, the movement as a whole is morphing. Without giving away details, I know of grassroots planning that includes going after corruption, tackling voter fraud and filling precinct chairs. New organizations are growing out of the Tea Party movement and it is all grassroots work.
The national conservative organizations have been trying to help–give training, give funding for venues, give advice for growing organizations. They have been invaluable, background players in a emotionally-charged, fired-up grassroots phenomenon.
The Tea Party movement isn’t imploding. It’s maturing. And that’s a good thing. There’s lots of work to be done. So now that everyone has found a like-minded community, well, the real work begins. So new outgrowths will sprout to fill the many needs out there. That’s what’s happening now.