With the attention that primaries this spring have brought to the Tea Party movement (so much for AstroTurf eh?) and the potential influence that “they” are having I am not struck by the results, but more by the way the movement is still not understood by Republicans, Democrats, pundits and special interest. When you understand what the Tea Party is, you understand the power of the movement…. the power of the citizen!
The Tea Party movement is just that, a movement, an idea. It is an idea which millions of citizens have awoken too, a way to finally be HEARD as citizens. It is about the individual, not an organization with meetings and “leadership”, but a ad-hoc group of concerned citizens willing to educate themselves and work together to MAKE their voices heard on some very basic principles.
It is action, not words. It is outcomes, not rhetoric.
While some would characterize it as a “third party”, others would attempt to co-opt it and still others would attempt to describe it as some monolithic entity, few outside the movement “get it”. They sense the power, they may fear it or covet it, but they fail to respect its true nature.
A good example of this was in Nevada this week when two candidates for Senate claimed “Tea Party” support or endorsement. I am certain that some people or organizations who are participating in the “Tea Party” movement gave support or endorsements, but the media and candidates fail to understand that the Tea Party movement is people, people trying to get their voices heard and binding together with like-minded individuals. That has represented itself as different people working with different groups with little or no connection. So claiming some monolithic “organizational” support is both wrong and a disservice to the cause.
The power of the movement is that it is the individual working at the grassroots and building coalitions with other individuals. There is no Tea “Party” in the strict sense; there is no organization that we are all “members” of. It is the empowerment of the citizen and any attempt to “consolidate” it destroys it.
Some special interests groups and candidates would love to use the lack of a single voice or “command and control” to “claim” the Tea Party. Its very nature lends it to the easy claim of Tea Party affiliation, there is no roster, no dues. Politicians know it is so much easier to grab a few “leaders” endorsements instead of going to the people and working for their votes individually.
Thankfully the very people who make up the movement know this and are aware when their endorsement or “position” is being used without permission.
Here in Cowlitz County we jealously guard our Tea Party independence. We will not be consolidated or laid claim to. We will not acquiesce when some D.C. special interest group or candidate claims some authority or bestows endorsement in our name. We protested loudly when FreedomWorks tried to claim some “leadership” role for what we had accomplished of our own free will and work. We knew they had no hand in our movement, had never approached us individually and had no claim to some collective endorsement. They may be a fine organization, but the muscle of the Tea Party is the citizen, it is We the People!
Within the Cowlitz Tea Party movement the founding “members” are supporting Jaime Herrera for Congress as are many of the ardent and active “member”, but no claim can be made of “endorsement” of the Tea Party. That would be a betrayal of all the other individuals and their voices. Each individual is responsible for their vote and speaking for themselves!
I encourage the citizen to seek out candidates, ask questions and hold them to high standards. More importantly, become active in the governance and policy making process. Attend Town Halls, protest on the street, ask tough questions of the candidates, go to your city council meetings, join a board or commission – RUN FOR OFFICE. Make your voice heard.
That is the Tea Party.
We can only bring our nation, state, counties and cities back to our Constitutional foundation when each citizen takes responsibility for the process and outcome of our government.