Thursday, August 04, 2011

Tea Party Trouble

The following arrived in my email box. I have decided to redact names from it because while I think this writer is on to something with the situation discussed, I am more interested in discussing whether or not this is an epidemic rather than an isolated case.
When I joined the tea party movement and then the republican central committee, I had very high hopes about bringing tea party values and transparency to politics and government. I had hoped that we common folk could do better than the people that had been in charge. Concepts such as openness and transparency were key values that I was looking forward to being part of.

I didn't recognize the problem at the beginning. Perhaps I just didn't really want to. Let's review the history of how we got started.

Select members of the community were encouraged to attend a tea party meeting at the [locality] Civic Center. It remains a mystery as to how these "select" citizens were chosen for notification, but I'll continue. We all gathered and learned about tea party values and learned about the republican central committee. There was much talk about the corruption of secret meetings and backroom deals. I whole heartedly agreed that this perceived corruption needed to be stopped and I was looking very forward to being part of a process of openness and transparency.

So what did we do next? Again, I really didn't see it at the time (or didn't want to), but we held a secret meeting and made a backroom deal. We secretly decided to "go for the gavel." We even went as far as to decide who would be the four officers of the [location] central committee. Again, this was a backroom deal held in a secret meeting. We won! The election and hostile takeover of the [locality] central committee went exactly as planned.

We stumbled a little when we attempted to stack the deck and slam through the "block vote" for [candidate] for judge. Although we were initially successful, the process stank of corruption and then blew up in the face of our leadership. We learned from that and will make sure that future "block votes" will require that all tea party members put aside our ability to think independently and simply go along to get along.

So lately, I've been finding myself scratching my head and trying to figure out what happened to our initial charter of openness and transparency without any secret meetings or backroom deals.

Throughout this letter, I've been using the word "we." If you read it again, take out the word "we" and insert "[local Tea Party "leader"]," you'll get a better picture of the problem.

Why has [local Tea Party "leader"] wanted all of the individual township tea party groups to disband and consolidate as one [local Tea Party organization] under his control? Has [local Tea Party "leader"] been using the tea party for his own personal political gain? Why has [local Tea Party "leader"] been telling some people that he's definitely running for state representative, other people that he's just thinking about it, and still other people that he's definitely not running? Is [local Tea Party "leader"] secretly engineering a tea party "block vote" to use the tea party to promote himself? Has he been keeping his intentions secret so as not to appear to be self-serving? Now that he has publicly announced his intentions, does this mean that his "block vote" is in place? Why are not all the [locality] committee members invited to these caucus meetings? I now understand the need to utilize more than one email listing for the [locality central committee]. and yet told it was my error when that mulligan had already been used.

Have any of you read the book "Animal Farm" by George Orwell? In this 1945 publication, the animals represent certain characters during the Stalin era before WWII. It is about government and revolution and how power corrupts leadership. The book and movie on DVD are available for free at the library. I am encouraging all of you to read it (or watch the movie) and see the unfortunate parallels to [local Tea Party "leader"] and our tea party. I'm personally disappointed and wish I didn’t have to express my opinion and understand the repercussions Don't misinterpret my intentions. I don't want to replace [local Tea Party "leader"] as the tea party leader and couldn’t as I don’t have his communication skills. Nor do I know of anyone interested in that role. I simply want [local Tea Party "leader"] to not insulate himself with other members when any problem arises, but mostly be transparent about his political ambitions, wear one hat at a time, and not to pervert the tea party for his own personal political gain. We need to get back to our original charter of transparency and openness and stop these political shenanigans.
I have suspicions that this sort of thing is happening all over the country and not just in our backyards. This is exactly the sort of thing that threatens the Tea Party movement in to becoming just another institution that plays the same old politics under a new banner. I don't think anybody wants to see that...

UPDATE: I find it curious that the Tea Party doesn't have "leaders" except for when they do...and boy do they get their knickers in a bunch when you call 'em on it.

UPDATE 2: If by some strange coincidence you actually care what the "other side" of the story is, check out this BizzyBlog post. I agree with the title, this is why good people don't get involved in politics: backroom deals and insider trading. In some places, the Tea Party has become about power and personal agendas.