Dear Readers: The title is derived from a quote from Napoleon Bonaparte. I needed to add a second post today, to underscore the point that there are no real Tea Party “leaders”, despite some amazing claims and attitudes that have recently surfaced.
For example, Fox News had this article posted:
Tea Party Leaders Meeting With Michael Steele
About 50 leaders of the grass-roots “tea party” movement will meet in Washington on Tuesday with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele and other top GOP operatives to discuss campaign strategies and conservative principles.
As a co-founder of a fairly active and sizable citizens action group, the Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition, I am mystified. Just exactly who are these “leaders”?
I just completed reading a wonderful book: The Spider and the Starfish — the Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations. The book details the amazing successes that leaderless organizations (e.g., “starfish”) have had in contending with highly structured entities. The analogy is that a spider will die if its head is removed; a starfish, having no head, will merely regenerate after damage. The string of Tea Party successes (e.g., May 19th California special election victories, Scott Brown’s MA Senate win) attest to the fact that when citizens get informed and active they can push back on BOTH parties and the entire system.
I feel that communication with party leaders and politicos should be local, as each band of citizens knows its area and people best. There are no national leaders speaking for the movement. Nor should there be. As conservative wins in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts attest, Tea Parties across the country will unite when the race, the candidate, and Constitutional principles are on the line and the local race has national impact. We do not have to be spoon-fed or “messaged” by the GOP to understand where our best interests lay. There was absolutely no need for the Steele-Tea Party session. In fact, given how unhappy many conservatives in the Republican Party are with Steele’s Leadership (example – the infamous What Up blog), such a meeting with Tea Party “leaders” may have done the entire Tea Party movement a disservice by propping him up!
One of the supposed “leaders”, Karin Hoffman — founder of DC Works For Us, had this to say:
“From the get-go, the grass-roots movement emerged from people desiring to be heard and not feeling like their voices are being heard in Washington,” Hoffman said in an interview. “This is the beginning of a formal discussion with the political establishment.”
I would argue that we have had plenty of “discussions” already with the political establishment. Remember — they were the townhalls. Additionally, there has been an upsurge in constituent phone calls, emails, faxes, and tweets! Now, it is up to representatives to act according to their principles, or desire to be re-relected. No need for high-level conferences.
Furthermore, our group has had the experience of the local GOP has regularly attempting to brand itself the leader of the area’s movement (and one or two Republican individuals attempted to do so nationally). So we do not warmly embrace an aggressive outreach with GOP leadership or spokespeople.
Some of our members want GOP to simply conform to its core values and promote candidates that represent those values. Subsequently, Tea Party Organizers in various counties do have an open line of communication with the Republican Party in their respective areas — working hard to clean house and strengthen the base.
But no one has the right to go to Steele and say they speak for all of us on a national level. It seems that many people are upset that they weren’t warned about this “national meeting”, so I have to be very clear that our teams in the Southern California Tax Revolt Coalition and Tea Party Patriots were totally in the dark about it. The organizers I trust, and work with, would not have requested or taken this meeting without being open with its membership or teammates. (Mut Note: Dr. Zero has more on Tea Party Patriots statement of twenty ideals for a Contract From America on Monday, culled from over a thousand suggestions.)
The mainstream media is wrong to designate “leaders”, and since our strength relies on being leaderless, this may harm the movement — especially if certain individuals assume the mantle of “leader”. Now, other Americans may think that the movement-at-large is “tethered” to the GOP; therefore, it is critical that we set the record straight right away. Besides the one group in Florida, my team is unaware of any tea party organization that wishes to be designated a third party. We are working for change with all of the currently existing parties.
What we hope will happen in 2010 is that the Tea Party selects candidates who best represent our core values, not just anyone with an R after his/her name. Frankly, I think that the GOP is having trouble understanding that. Any old Republican will not do anymore. They’ve got to be Chuck DeVore caliber candidates. The Tom Campbells aren’t going to cut it anymore.
We have to be vigilant about our non-partisan status. When Republican party leaders put tea bag post cards up on their websites or throw their own tea parties, it’s a problem. Approximately 40 percent of our group in San Diego are not registered Republicans (including me, a humble Democrat). And we work hard to maintain credibility with those people by keeping core principles as our “leader” vs. any people or organizations.
One of the other key points I discovered in “The Spider and the Starfish” is that leaderless organizations tend to become more decentralized, more effective, and more powerful when attacked. Therefore, I read with interest this item via Instapundit:
Big Government has learned that Clintonistas are plotting a “push/pull” strategy. They plan to identify 7-8 national figures active in the tea party movement and engage in deep opposition research on them. If possible, they will identify one or two they can perhaps ‘turn’, either with money or threats, to create a mole in the movement. The others will be subjected to a full-on smear campaign. (Has MSNBC already been notified?)
Big Government has also learned that James Carville will head up the effort.
Based on “The Spider and Starfish”, I do not foresee Clinton’s Tea-Party-Takedown effort being successful.
If the Clinton Team wants a head start on me:
* I used to belly dance in the 1990’s.
* Co-Founding and supporting my Tea Party group IS the most controversial thing I have ever done.
IN RELATED NEWS:
Michelle Malkin is keeping it real with an interesting take on the Mt. Vernon Statement: An inconvenient question about the Mount Vernon Statement . The money quotes (with a hint of Latin):
Today is the opening of the Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC) — the storied annual gathering of the Right. As I noted the other day, it’s also the season for a bumper crop of conservative manifestos, action plans, and ideological contracts.
The Mount Vernon Statement, which lays out broad principles for “constitutional conservatism,” has garnered the most buzz. An elegant tribute to limited government and the Founding Fathers, the document carries the signatures of movement leaders, Beltway heavyweights, and veteran activists. Two of the most prominent backers: the American Conservative Union’s David Keene and Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist. Keene and Norquist are also CPAC chairman and CPAC board member, respectively, and partners in the Constitution Project.
I have an inconvenient, but necessary, question for those who sign their names:
Do you agree with Keene and Norquist’s views on national security and immigration enforcement?
The guaranteed silence on these issues today will speak volumes.
To borrow a signature phrase of the Tea Party movement, it’s time to be silent no more. Open-borders Norquist is backing shamnesty ringleader John McCain in Arizona and pushing a new “comprehensive immigration reform”/illegal alien amnesty II initiative.
We need real alternatives to Obama politics and policy, not echoes wrapped in constitutional packaging. Which is why, as much as I respect GOP Sen. Jim Demint, I disagree with his call to vote out any politician who refuses to sign the Mount Vernon Statement.