Tea Party Split: Co-dependent Infiltrationists vs. Independent Activists

A New York Times report on recent activities of those involved in the tea party movement is, unsurprisingly, careful to focus on those who advocate a strictly infiltrationist policy of "taking over" the Republican Party, while avoiding any mention of those taking independent action against the ruling order of the Democratic-Republican two-party state. We read:
The Tea Party movement ignited a year ago, fueled by anti-establishment anger. Now, Tea Party activists are trying to take over the establishment, ground up. Across the country, they are signing up to be Republican precinct leaders, a position so low-level that it often remains vacant, but which comes with the ability to vote for the party executives who endorse candidates, approve platforms and decide where the party spends money.

A new group called the National Precinct Alliance says it has a coordinator in nearly every state to recruit Tea Party activists to fill the positions and has already swelled the number of like-minded members in Republican Party committees in Arizona and Nevada. Its mantra is this: take the precinct, take the state, take the party — and force it to nominate conservatives rather than people they see as liberals in Republican clothing.
In effect, this faction of the tea party movement has allowed itself to be hijacked by partisan Republican operatives. Their situation is not dissimilar from the way in which the anti-war movement was co-opted (and then defeated) by Democrats over the course of the last decade. However, not all of these tea party activists are as gullible as one might think, given that they appear to have been duped by apologists of the reigning Democratic-Republican two-party state. Many remain skeptical. Minuteman Project co-founder Chris Simcox, who plans to challenge John McCain in this year's Republican primary in Arizona, is quoted at Sonoran Alliance:
All in all it seems the McCain party establishment is nervous. They are being challenged from within by independent minded folks who actually live the conservative platform but have no voice even when they are welcomed to the table. Some folks, part of the “establishment” attempted a last minute New Year’s Eve coup to control the message including the state party money which by decree meant that all efforts and money would go to protect incumbents only.

Common Sense prevailed with a unanimous vote to hold off until this Saturday’s Arizona GOP State Party elections. Many independents, conservatives who left the Republican Party waiting for a viable change in the party structure are watching carefully how this power play will affect the so-called grassroots party vote. Will so-called grassroots leadership stick with principle or play it safe with the status quo?
The “party” convinced thousands of independents to come back and re-register with the party; the “party” encouraged folks to get involved as precinct committeemen and state committeemen; the party welcomed (begged) the Constitutional conservative independents to return to the Republican “party” and have now given them a seat at the table. The question is will they have a voice and how will their votes affect state party leadership? Or, will it be business as usual?
Elsewhere, in Washington state, for instance, conservative tea party activists are fiercely guarding their independence from the Democratic-Republican ruling establishment, and continue to call for organized opposition to the political organs of the two-party state. Constitution Party activists participated in a protest at the state capitol in Olympia yesterday. As reported by the News Tribune:
About 300 people gathered on the Capitol steps Thursday for a "Winter Sovereignty Fest," and participants called for legislators to pass laws reasserting Washington's right to sovereignty . . .
Karen Murray of Quincy, spokeswoman for the Constitution Party of Washington, said she traveled to Olympia for the rally because she believes the federal government has usurped powers not granted in the Constitution. "Slowly over the years people have become aware of how much has been taken away from them," Murray said. "I'd like people to read the Constitution. They can see there exactly what the federal government is able to do. We gave them those powers and nothing else." . . . Murray said the Constitution Party plans to run candidates in 2010 elections in hopes of breaking two-party rule.
UPDATE: At Conservative Firestorm, Rich V. argues that the tea party movement is a "blueprint for a third party." He writes:
all the political parties that have risen throughout our history have started locally. Thus, to make a new, "3rd" party viable, this proposed party must begin working at the local level before all else. That means developing a viable party platform, finding people who are like minded and then banding together and working on local issues . . . The 2nd step in this process must be recruiting and then electing members of this nascent party to state offices, such as representatives/delegates and state senators . . . The 3rd step must be getting party members elected to the US House of Representative and Senate. This is nearly as great a step as the 2nd, but if getting members elected to state houses occurs, then capturing governorships isn't out of the question at this step either.
Rich dismisses popular caricatures of the tea party movement and argues that it has the potential to coalesce into a viable moderate third party:
the Tea Party movement has started organizing locally, though they are also sponsoring a national convention in the near future. That's why I believe this movement has the ability to evolve into a viable alternative to the existing major parties. Despite how they are painted in the major media, most people who profess to the solidifying ideology of this nascent party, they aren't far right wing 'nuts'. Most are much more moderate in their viewpoint. It's only fiscally that they are conservative.

Therefore, this movement has the distinct possibility to become the long wished for "moderate" party. This will be possible as the moderates of BOTH existing major parties are being driven from their respective folds as they move to the left and right . . . Is this possible? Yes it is.
Read the whole thing.


Samuel Wilson said...

As long as the tea-partiers identify themselves as "conservative" relative to a threatening "liberalism" that they identify with the Democratic Party, there will be a consistent, powerful temptation to make common cause with the Republicans on lesser-evil principles, encouraged by the hope that the TPs can reform the GOP through infiltration. If the TPs have nothing more to offer the nation than the same old hysterical liberalphobia, their disillusionment with current Republican politicians will prove no more than a superficial scab over an incurable duopolist infection.

d.eris said...

This split among the TP folks has been there almost from the very beginning. I think already last April I had a post on three emerging factions among them: the closet Republicans, the independents and the third party folks. I think these groups will be fighting over "ownership" of the TP discourse throughout this year. That is, unless some one of them simply trademarks it and starts to demand royalties.