Friday, February 5, 2010

Tea Party First Principles: Tea Party National Organizing

The National Tea Party is underway at Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee. Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) has already spoken. Six-hundred grassroots activists are expected to attend. Watch for updates here as they happen.

FOXNews today says that the Tea Party Convention held this weekend at Opryland is organizing a "national strategy" for the 2010 midterm elections. The strategy is known as "First Principles."

What I do not understand is the leadership of Tea Parties. I know there was a dust-up over this particular Tea Party Convention. Some Tea Party leaders objected to the Nashville get-together as the planner hoped to make a profit from the event. They convinced Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to drop out of the event. Governor Sarah Palin will be a speaker at the Opryland Convention. She has been widely criticized for receiving a $100,000 Keynote speaker's fee, which she says she will donate the money "right back to the cause."

About the "First Principles," the Nashville Convention group says the following are "simply proposals," and they understand that Tea Parties, nationwide have their varied interests and ideas:

Volunteers here intend to propose a series of broad "First Principles" which have already been generally embraced by most Tea Party chapters around the country. They include: fiscal responsibility, upholding the constitution, and national security.

Prospective political candidates will be expected to support the Republican National Committee platform, though without any specific litmus or purity test.
A Tea Party caucus is planned after elections. That is a great idea. Democrats have powerful caucaus' - generally supporting dreadful policy. This is an idea whose time has come. 
If a particular candidate meets the proposed Tea Party criteria he or she would be eligible for fundraising and grassroots Tea Party support.

Once elected to office, members would be required to join a Congressional Tea Party Caucus, attend regular meetings and be held accountable for the votes they cast. Those who stray from the Tea Party path would risk losing it's support and a likely re-election challenge.
FOXNews just had a segment on the Nashville event. The group made it clear that this not about a third party.

I'll be the first to step out and say that I do not understand the organization of the many Tea Parties: The National Tea Party, Tea Party Patriots, and the American Tea Party Movement, and most famously, the Tea Party/912 Movement, among others. Former Representative from Texas, Dick Armey says his organization, FreedomWorks is working with the Tea Party Patriots, but that the movement itself is "leaderless." If that's the case, this is a good thing. A huge group of Americans throughout the country working toward limited and responsible government, and many staying a "local" force.

Here is an example of how that can work:
In Texas, activists with Tea Party links are split in the Republican primary for governor. Armey is backing Sen. Kay Baily Hutchison's shallenge to Gov. Rick Perry in the March 2 primary. Palin campaigns Sunday for Perry. Debra Medina, a former GOP county chairwoman with a libertarian platform, has been working the Tea Party circuit as she seeks the GOP nomination.
I wish these dedicated American's every success in Nashville. I wish I was there to help craft the "First Principles."

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